Dr Robbie Anderton BVSc (Hons) MANZCVS
Recently we have seen quite a few cases of Kennel Cough in Dogs.
This is a very common condition that we often see in outbreaks.
It is more of a diagnosis on clinical signs, that is caused by a group of viruses and bacteria.
We also call it Infectious Canine Cough, or just Canine Cough, because often as owners tell us after they bring their dogs in to see us – “But She/He hasn’t been to the kennels!”.
When dogs are playing at off lead dog parks, or even getting close to each other when walking, if a dog with an airway infection coughs, it aerosolises the organism, and then can infect another dog.
The Classic signs of Kennel Cough is what we describe as a “Goose honk cough, with a terminal retch” – basically a series of big loud almost wheezing coughs, followed by a loud hack, that sometimes owners mistake as their dog trying to vomit. Especially because sometimes they do bring up a bit of froth or phlegm.
We diagnose dogs with Kennel Cough by history, physical examination and character of the cough (especially if they have a very sensitive wind pipe when we palpate their neck), and ruling out other diseases – especially heart disease in older dogs.
Sometimes we might need to take some x-rays of a dogs chest to rule out any involvement of the lungs, airways, or to check the heart.
Treatment for most dogs is centred around controlling the cough – given that most of the infectious causes are viruses, antibiotics usually do nothing other than make you feel like you are doing something.
IF the coughing fits are bad, we use cough suppressants to help to reduce the clinical signs. Sometimes we may use anti-inflammatories too to help to reduce inflammation.
If on clinical exam the dog has a temperature, is unwell, or has a history of other airway disease or other diseases that may compromise their immune system, then we will use Antibiotics.
But in the VAST majority of dogs, the cough will start to clear up on it’s own, and should be cleared by 7-10 days. If they are not clearing, then we use medications to help to resolve the “post viral inflammation”.
We recommend that you keep you dog away from other dogs for at least the 7-10 days while the cough is resolving.
The other common question we get is “Why has my dog picked up kennel cough when it has been vaccinated for it?” – And this is a great question. In our standard dog vaccinations, we vaccinate for 3 of the organisms that cause kennel cough, but we don’t have any vaccinations for the other 5 – So if your dog comes across one of the organisms we cant cover for, they may still get the infection depending on their own level of immunity to that organism.
However if they are exposed to one of the ones we do vaccinate for, the clinical signs and duration of infection will be less than if they didn’t have a vaccination for it.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS PROTECTED AGAINST KENNEL COUGH, YOU CAN CHECK YOUR VACCINATION CARDS/CERTIFICATE TO SEE IF YOUR DOG HAD A VACCINATION FOR KENNEL COUGH. OR CALL THE CLINIC AND THE NURSES CAN CHECK YOUR DOGS RECORDS.
IF YOUR DOG IS OVERDUE FOR VACCINATION, CALL THE CLINIC TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT, OR CLICK THE BOOK NOW BUTTON TO BOOK ONLINE.