A dog lover’s passion lies well beyond the basic feeding, walking, and petting. Awareness of, protection from, and treatment for infirmity and injury are paramount. Our dogs’ well being is—as it should be—paramount.  

When Kennel Cough Comes Around

As such, we can actually be on the lookout for, or at least respond quickly to, certain canine illnesses that tend to occur during particular seasons of the year. It turns out that what comes around goes around in the case of kennel cough:  a highly contagious disease that is most prevalent during months when dogs are out and about,  socializing with many of their furry friends.

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‘Kennel cough’ earns its familiar label because this sneaky ailment often comes in to play when humans leave for holiday and customarily place their dogs in daycare and boarding facilities. The highly transmittable, airborne infection flourishes in close quarters and social settings, and then, epidemics arise. But since the virus travels by air, it can also easily be acquired in dog parks, beaches, hikes and in public spaces where other dogs have been.  

What Exactly is Kennel Cough?

Identified in veterinary (medical) terms, ‘infectious tracheobronchitis’ or Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)) is brought about by Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus. These pathogens inflame the lining of the respiratory tract, affecting the dog’s trachea, larynx, and bronchi.  

One reason this infection is so difficult to keep from becoming an epidemic is that there is an incubation period of 7-10 days in which your dog may have contracted it without exhibiting any symptoms.


Some signs that your dog may have “kennel cough” are:

Persistent hacking or ‘honking’ cough (and possible ‘choking’ sounds)

Runny nose




CIRDC Prognosis and Treatment  

Kennel cough is extremely uncomfortable for infected dogs, who may remain ill for two weeks (or longer, in serious cases). The threat can become heightened in young puppies, geriatric canines, and/or immunosuppressed dogs who can develop pneumonia and other complications.  

For all of these reasons, any signs of kennel cough warrant a visit to the vet, who will treat according to diagnosis. Mild cases simply call for rest, hydration, good nutrition, and perhaps, a cough suppressant. For more critical cases, the vet might administer anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics.


Common Sense and Conscientiousness Win  

As always, keep your ears pricked for word of outbreaks in your community (town, day care, kennel, dog park, etc.) Be vigilant, noting symptoms as soon as they manifest in your own dog. Because kennel cough is transmitted through the air; with direct physical contact; and/or shared use of contaminated items, it is contracted extraordinarily easily and quickly. Know that there are so many strains of the virus, that even dogs given Bordetella vaccinations prior (required by most pet care facilities) are susceptible to catching the infection.  

If you become aware that your dog is suffering from the illness, it’s prudent to isolate him immediately from any social interactions with other dogs. Remember that caring for your dog by segregating and treating her means that you are also conscientious of other pooches’ health, which also may be at risk for this stealthy infection.



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