Infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system in dogs. It causes a dry hacking, retching, gagging or even honking noise. Though it can be rather annoying to the owner, the prognosis is generally good. Most dogs only exhibit a cough with no change in temperature or eating habits. It is called ‘kennel cough’ because many dogs contract it while in a kennel. It’s hard to keep the organisms out of confined spaces because a dog may carry contagious organisms for weeks after he no longer shows symptoms.
What should you do if your dog exhibits symptoms of kennel cough?
- Call your vet. Because there are both viral and bacterial forms of kennel cough, your vet may want to determine which form your dog has. If it is determined to be bacterial, he may prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection.
- If the cough is not productive, ask your vet to prescribe a cough suppressant. Both you and your pet will sleep much better!
- Try a steam treatment. Run a hot shower and let your dog breath in the moist air. It will moisten the airways and loosen any congestion.
- Use a body harness instead of a collar, as a collar may press on the windpipe and make the cough worse.
- Prevent future cases by having your dog vaccinated if he will be in a kennel or other confined space with other animals.
The incubation period is usually 3 to 10 days and the symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks. If your dog is running a fever, or has a change in eating habits or personality, see your vet immediately.