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Kennel cough

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Dogs often develop an upper respiratory infection after a stay at the kennel or any place where they come into contact with a lot of other dogs. The term "kennel cough" is used as sort of a catchall phrase for any infectious cough that can spread rapidly from dog to dog.

Kennel cough can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or both. The most common bacterium involved is Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is the bacterial component of the kennel cough vaccine.

The most common sign is a persistent, hacking cough. Your pet may or may not cough up phlegm. Pets often have a runny nose or eyes, or other signs of a mild respiratory infection. The condition is rarely serious, and it usually goes away on its own in 7-10 days. However, infected dogs can easily pass the condition on to other dogs.

Treatment consists mostly of tender loving care. Your pet needs rest and a good diet, and you should encourage your pet to drink water. Your veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant to allow your pet to get some rest. Antibiotics may be needed if the infection is bacterial. In general, affected dogs are not hospitalized to prevent passing the infection on to other dogs.

 

 Q&A

What is kennel cough?

The term “kennel cough” is a catchall phrase for any infectious cough that can spread rapidly from dog to dog in a kennel or similar close-contact situation.


What causes kennel cough?

Kennel cough can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or both.  The most common bacterium involved is Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is a component of the kennel cough vaccine.


How is kennel cough treated?

This condition often goes away on its own, but your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic to remove a bacterial infection, and/or a cough suppressant to make your pet more comfortable.  Otherwise, treatment consists of tender loving care, rest, a good diet, and free access to fresh water.  

 

Credit: Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
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