Also known as canine tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is inflicted by multiple viruses and bacteria, and it's analogous to a mild case of influenza in humans. As this ailment involves both viral and bacterial infections, at times, it becomes difficult to diagnose it. It is characterized by a harsh, hacking cough, and it's similar to common cold in humans. It can be easily transmitted from one dog to another. This condition affects the upper respiratory tract of canines, and in most cases, it's a symptom of some underlying medical conditions. Heart and periodontal diseases, as well as ailments caused due to earthworms and parasites like throat growths, pneumonia, irritations, and allergies, may manifest themselves through this type of cough. Thus, it is necessary for dog owners to be aware of all the causes, symptoms, and treatment methods of this illness.
The bacteria, 'Bordetella bronchiseptica', and the viruses, 'Canine Parainfluenza-3' and 'Canine Adenovirus Type 2', are the primary causes of this disease. The bacteria can be transmitted either by aerial or direct contact, and they can spread inside the dog's body. The Canine Parainfluenza-3 virus affects the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract, whereas Canine Adenovirus Type 2 penetrates deep into the lungs. In some cases, kennel cough also results from a combination of the above three causes, and this requires an immediate medical intervention.
The incubation period (usually 3 - 10 days) is the time interval between infection and the first appearance of the symptoms. The most prominent indication is a persistent dry hacking cough. At times, it's so bad or severe, that the animal may eject out all the eaten food. This is known as retching. It may be followed by a watery nasal discharge, sneezing, snorting, and gagging. When this ailment is mild, dogs generally stay active and have a normal appetite. However, if the treatment is delayed for too long, then the symptoms may progress to lethargy, fever, and pneumonia.
In most cases, this type of cough subsides without the aid of any medical intervention. It takes about 4 - 7 days for it to get resolved on its own. Various medicines and other natural treatment methods can be administered, in order to get symptomatic relief and to keep the pets comfortable.
Antibiotics usually are the first choice for treatment of this disease. The drug dosage depends on the age and weight of the pets. It is not advisable to administer antibiotics without prior knowledge and guidance from a qualified veterinarian. Hence, consult a vet, follow the recommended dosages, and keep checking the improvement of the dog's health.
The vet may also prescribe a certain dosage of vitamin C supplements for your pet. It is known for its effective anti-infective qualities/antimicrobial properties. Take care that the dosage does not cross its required level, as it may result in irritable bowel syndrome.
Vaccination involves two options. The first one is for improving the dog's immune system by giving intranasal vaccine. This is to prevent any future occurrences of the problem. The administration of this vaccine should be done by a qualified vet. Injectable vaccines are another alternative for dogs who are aggressive in nature.
Apart from these treatments, there is another option known as inoculation. In this procedure, a serum (an amber-colored watery fluid, which is rich in proteins, separates out when when blood coagulates) is usually administered inside the dog's body. This serum works towards strengthening the dog's immune system by boosting the disease-fighting cells, to get rid of all the infections. It is similar to the intranasal type. However, it is administered intravenously.
Some Home Remedies
Letting your dog sleep better is an effective remedy. Feed your pet with 1 - 1½ tsp. of honey every day. This will relieve the pain caused by coughing.
Keeping a home humidifier or a vaporizer close to the dog's resting place, helps reduce the severity of the condition. This will provide moisture and loosen up the dry, hacking cough. You can use chopped garlic cloves, essential oils of lavender, tea leaves, and eucalyptus leaves in the vaporizer.
Make tea using the herb called yerba santa (sticky aromatic leaves used in treating bronchial and pulmonary illnesses), and add a few drops to the dog's water. This herb is known for its expectorant and decongestant qualities. Licorice root and peppermint-flavored strong tea varieties can be made and administered in the same way.
Keep your pet warm and decrease any kind of stress on it. Using a harness is better than a dog collar. Encourage it to drink plenty of water. Your pet may also develop a sore throat; hence, it is advisable to feed it soft food.
As kennel cough is a common disease, awareness about it, early treatment, and proper care and love can keep things from getting worse, and help your pet move on with its life as usual.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a professional veterinarian.