The causes of kennel cough can originate from viral and bacterial sources. It is possible that kennel cough can come from the canine herpes virus, canine adenovirus, or reovirus. Kennel cough can also develop from the parainfluenza, mycoplasma, and par influenza organisms. The illness usually develops from exposure to more than one of these organisms. Your dog could have a combination viral and bacterial infection causing the symptoms of kennel cough.
What should you do if your dog has kennel cough?
If you have more than one dog, and you believe your dog might have kennel cough, it is a good idea to separate the sick dog from your other dog/s, and call your vet to have your dog evaluated. Since kennel cough is highly contagious, the disease could spread to your other dog/s very quickly.
What about sanitation and kennel cough?
If you believe your dog has kennel cough, or if your dog has been diagnosed with kennel cough, it is important to disinfect everything your dog has come into contact with, including yourself. It is a good idea to take a bath or shower and change clothes before coming in contact with your other dogs (if you have any other dogs), because you can carry the organisms on your person and pass it to your other dogs. All your dogs toys and living areas need to be disinfected. Cloth toys should be washed and dried or disposed of to protect your dog from being re-infected with the organisms. It is also important to disinfect your shoes so that you do not carry the organisms back into your home.
Diagnosis and treatment of kennel cough.
Your veterinarian will examine your dog, and make a diagnosis on his/her findings. Kennel cough is not difficult to diagnose; however, the vet may perform diagnostic tests to confirm or deny the diagnosis of kennel cough. Among the tests, the vet will take an x-ray, a bacterial culture and sensitivity, as well as blood work for a complete blood count (CBC).
A mild case of kennel cough may just be a bacterial infection and it can be treated with antibiotics; however, a more serious case of kennel cough may involve both a bacterial and viral infection. A more serious infection will also be treated with an antibiotic, and the vet may also order a bronchodilator to open up the airways for easier breathing. A cough suppressant may also be ordered. It is not likely that your dog would be hospitalized with kennel cough unless its condition were serious enough to require more intense treatment, such as IV therapy.
Prevention of kennel cough.
The best way to prevent kennel cough is to not let your dog come into contact with dogs in a crowded situation. Puppies, and dogs with impaired immune systems should not be around large groups of other dogs. Your veterinarian may suggest that your dog be vaccinated against kennel cough; however, because there are so many organisms that can cause kennel cough, vaccination alone may not prevent your dog from contracting the disease.