As the name rightly suggests, kennel cough is a common canine illness that affects the respiratory system of dogs. This is a contagious disease which is found to spread in dogs that are kept in close vicinity (as in kennels). Otherwise known as tracheobronchitis, this condition can be caused by certain viral and bacterial infections. The most common among them are bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza - 3 and canine adenovirus type 2. Kennel cough may be a self-limiting condition that may subside within a short period.
Causes and Symptoms
So, kennel cough is a type of bronchitis that causes inflammation of the upper respiratory system. Dogs affected with this condition can infect other dogs through direct contact. The pathogens that cause this disease can also spread through air and contaminate surfaces. So, dogs that are kept in enclosed areas are highly prone to develop this condition, if any one of them gets infected. Even touching contaminated surfaces may spread the disease. Once exposed to the disease-causing pathogens, it will take around three to eight days for the animal to develop symptoms.
The most common symptom of kennel cough is a persistent dry cough with a honking sound. In minor cases, the dog will be healthy except the cough. Sometimes, the animal may develop gagging, retching and may cough up phlegm. Some dogs may develop slight fever too. Other symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge. In a dog with kennel cough, coughing can be triggered by overexertion or exercise. If you gently press the airway of the dog at the neck, the animal will start coughing. This is one of the tell tale symptoms of kennel cough. In case of secondary infections, the dog may also develop a loss of appetite, breathing trouble, fatigue and high fever.
How Long Does a Kennel Cough Last
It is a condition that is as minor as a cold. But, the severity and duration may vary with individual dogs. Kennel cough may lead to secondary infections and may also result in complications like pneumonia. So, it is always better to get it treated at the earliest, as per the instructions of a vet. As mentioned above, kennel cough duration may not be the same for all dogs.
In general, a minor kennel cough may subside on its own with proper and timely treatment. In such cases, the duration of the cough will be around two to three weeks. However, this duration may be affected by various factors like age of the dog, its physical condition, underlying diseases and type of disease-causing pathogen.
- It has been noticed that in older dogs, duration of the kennel cough is much longer than that of their younger counterparts. This could be due to the strong immune system in the latter. Another example is the weak immune system found in young puppies. Even adult dogs may develop weak immune systems due to various factors. So, those dogs with less immunity may take longer to recover.
- As compared to healthy dogs, canines with underlying medical conditions are more prone to having a longer duration of kennel cough. It may happen that a dog that is already suffering from some respiratory illness takes time to recover.
- Even the type of disease-causing agent may affect the cough duration. In otherwise healthy dogs, viral kennel cough is found to subside within a short span, bacterial ones may take longer. Medication may not be required to treat viral type whereas antibiotics may be used for bacterial infections.
- If complications like secondary infections develop in a dog with kennel cough, then it will take longer to recover, as compared to those canines with no complications.
In short, kennel cough duration in normal cases is around two to three weeks. But, older canines and dogs with a weak immune system or underlying medical condition may take longer to recover from the condition. This duration may be longer in dogs that develop secondary infections. Mild cases can be resolved with proper care. You have to keep the dog in a warm and humid atmosphere and provide it with wet food. As collars and leashes may aggravate the cough, remove them. If the symptoms get severe, medication like antibiotics, bronchodilators, decongestants and antitussives, are prescribed. Sometimes, the dog may be required to be admitted in hospital, if his/her condition worsens.
If you have two or more dogs, isolate the one with kennel cough. The mode of treatment for kennel cough may vary from one animal to another. So, it is always advisable to preventthe condition, with proper care and hygiene. Keep your dog in a location with proper ventilation. Above all, you must vaccinate your puppy against this disease.
Even though the effectiveness of the kennel cough vaccine for longer periods is still a much debated topic, it is found to be useful in preventing this disease in dogs, to some extent. Vaccination must be done as per the advice of your vet. Another important point to note is that you have to take the dog to the vet, if you suspect that the canine has developed kennel cough. Early treatment is always beneficial in reducing kennel cough duration.