Kennel cough is a condition that affects the respiratory system (or the upper respiratory tract, to be more specific) of dogs and is characterized by severe inflammation of the trachea and bronch.
Similar to the common cold in humans in some ways, several different viruses can cause kennel cough (such as canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, or canine coronavirus) or, and more commonly – by Bordatella bronchiseptica, a bacteria.
The disease spread through sneezing and coughing, especially in close quarters such as kennels — which is how it was named. Clinical Signs: Symptoms of kennel cough will often be seen as of 3 to 10 days after the initial exposure. As you might think, the most obvious symptom is a dry, recurrent cough. The cough can be so bad that it may be followed with dry heaving, or, even, puking. Other symptoms you might be able to observe include loss of appetite, nasal discharge, fever, and/or lethargy. Extreme cases can worsen to pneumonia or even be fatal. Nonetheless, most of dogs infected will show no other signs than the cough itself. Dogs with highly compromised immune systems (usually elderly) will might experience some of the more severe symptoms.
Treatment: Again, just like the common cold in humans, kennel cough almost always resolves itself without any treatment whatsoever. If the disease is caused by a bacterial infection, your veterinarian may dispense antibiotics. Also, antibiotics may be given to eliminate any secondary infection that may rise during the disease. It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for the condition to clear up, or, in older or dogs suffering from immunodeficiency, up to 6 weeks. It is crucial to keep infected dogs away from healthy ones, as kennel cough is very contagious.
Prevention: Dogs who visits frequently boarding facilities, dog parks or so, face a higher risk of contracting kennel cough. Vaccines are usually only given to dogs who have a high risk of contracting the disease, but any dog owner who wants to be on the safe side can request a vaccination from the treating veterinarian. The vaccine is given as nasal mist, poured directly into each nostril. While these vaccinations can be helpful, there is no guarantee of protection against kennel cough, mostly since it is caused by a lot of different kinds of bacteria and viruses.