Kennel cough and coughing are a potentially serious problem. Just because your dog coughs does not mean they have kennel cough. Kennel cough is very contagious and it gets its name from the speed it infects a kennel. Kennel cough vaccine is sometimes required before kennelling dogs to avoid it being spread through a kennel. Kennel cough can be transmitted by aerosol droplets which can be transmitted by direct contact, via the air with close contact and by indirect methods like on food or water bowls.
The incubation period is 5 to 7 days so you may not know they have it until after they come back from a kennel. As the pathogens replicate in the upper respiratory tract, a secondary infection can occur in damaged tissues.
The cough usually lasts for one to two weeks and it sounds like a hacking dry cough, where it sounds like they are trying to cough up phlegm. The cough is made worse by exercise and excitement. They lose their energy, stop eating and sometimes have a runny nose.
If your dog gets kennel cough do not worry as it usually not that serious but if left untreated it can lead to other complications like pneumonia.
Kennel cough is treated by stopping the risk of them getting kennel cough by vaccinating the dog. If they do get kennel cough your vet will prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs as well as cough suppressants and recommend a reduction in exercise and plenty of rest. There are also many natural remedies like honey and vitamins to help fight off infections.
If your dog is coughing it may also be other conditions like:
- Collapsing Trachea or the windpipe
- Heart problems
- Inhaled substances or dust
- Lung tumours
- Fungal infections
- Lungworm or heartworm
- A sore throat
- Respiratory tract tumours
- Food or water going down the wrong way
- Pressure from a tight collar or pulling hard on a lead
A vet will carry out different tests depending on the problem from chest x-rays to examine the lungs to listening to the lungs and the cough.
Different coughs can mean different problems:
- Collapsing windpipe produces a cough that it like the sound of a goose honking
Heart problems can be accompanied by a prolonged nighttime cough and a reluctance to lay on the chest area
- Pneumonia has a loose bubbling cough which is caused by fluid in the lung
- Tonsillitis and sore throats produce a gagging cough and lots of swallowing and licking their lips.
If your dog coughs, monitor the frequency and the of a cough and ask your vet on the best cause of action.