Kennel cough, which is also called infectious tracheobronchitis or Bordetella, is a very common upper respiratory infection in dogs. The condition can be triggered by several different viruses and bacteria, but the most common trigger is the presence of both the parainfluenza virus and the bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. Kennel cough is highly contagious and can remain infective for 6 to 14 weeks after symptoms resolve. Both viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough are spread in the air by sneezing, coughing dogs. It can be difficult to owners to understand that treating a puppy cough can take a while.
A sudden dry hacking cough, sneezing, snorting, retching, gagging, or vomiting in response to very light pressure to the trachea, or a spasmodic cough when a dog is excited or exercising – these are all common symptoms of kennel cough. A nasal discharge may be present, and sometimes there can also be fever. Symptoms typically occur 2 to 14 days after exposure in mild cases of kennel cough. Dogs usually continue to eat and remain alert. When the condition is more serious, dogs can become lethargic. They can lose their appetite. Pneumonia can develop.
Bacterial cultures, viral isolations, and bloodwork can be performed to identify the specific pathogens causing the exact type of kennel cough the dog has. Some vets take x-rays, which can show bronchitis. Complete recovery from kennel cough can take up to three weeks in healthy dogs, and twice as long in older patients or in dogs with underlying immunosuppressive conditions. Treating a puppy cough can also take a bit longer, as they need more time to recover. It’s always best to consult a veterinarian immediately if you see consistent coughing and sneezing in your pets!