Pet Care Advice

Canine Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly infectious respiratory disease which circulates in the dog population all year round.

A range of bugs can be involved but the two most likely are a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus.

Once exposed to infection, it takes 3-10 days before the disease is seen – usually as a dry, retching, honking cough and a raised temperature. Dog owners often think that there is something stuck in their dog’s throat. Very rarely, serious cases can result in pneumonia and even death, particularly in puppies or elderly dogs, but much more commonly, the result is just a very nasty cough.

Kennel cough can last from a few days to several weeks and even after the coughing has stopped the dog can remain infectious for three months or more.

Every dog is at risk, however healthy. Protection against the most important causes is not normally included in a routine annual vaccination and infected dogs can pass on the disease very easily. Last year, an estimated 65,000 cases were seen by vets in the UK.

Despite the name, kennel cough is not only contracted in kennels - a recent survey suggested that the majority of cases are acquired in places other than kennels. Your dog is likely to encounter it in the park, at dog shows and at training classes - basically anywhere that dogs meet.

As kennel cough is caused by both bacteria and viruses, antibiotics can sometimes help to reduce disease duration but sometimes have little effect on symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to lessen the severity of the cough.

As with any disease, prevention is always better (and cheaper!) than cure. Effective intranasal vaccines are available against Bordatella bacteria and can be administered routinely alongside your pet’s normal annual boosters.

Kennel cough vaccines are 25% off during July at Banstead Village Vets. Call the surgery on 01737 210011 to book an appointment.