Canine cough (Kennel Cough) Dr Stephen Cutter B.V.Sc(hons)
We often receive calls about dogs who have been up all night coughing. Their owners are often distressed and worried that the dog has something stuck in its throat. Canine cough (Kennel cough), rather than something stuck, is often the cause.
Canine Cough is a mostly mild flu like disease that is extremely contagious and easily spread. Any location where dogs gather or play is a good place to pick up the disease. That is why any good boarding kennel or dog organisation will ask that your dog be vaccinated against kennel cough before they participate in any group activity.
Canine cough is spread via aerosol (infectious particles in the air) and moves through shelters and kennels much the same as a human cold virus moves through a day care centre. A little sniffle here, a little cough there and before you know it every one has the bug.
In unvaccinated dogs the cough is usually harsh and honking. One of the major causes of canine cough is closely related to whooping cough so the signs can be similar. Severe untreated cases of Kennel Cough can sometimes turn into pneumonia so if your dog develops a hacking cough or discharge from their eyes or nose then it is time to consult with our vets and find out the best course of action.
Prevention is much easier than cure. Vaccinated dogs may still contract canine cough but their symptoms will be very mild in comparison to their unvaccinated counter parts.
Your dog can be vaccinated in two different ways. If your dog needs urgent protection, such as if they are going into a boarding kennel shortly, there is a canine cough vaccine that can be given up the nose. This provides protection within four days. The standard injectable vaccine is less stressful on the dog but takes over a month to provide protection.