What is Kennel Cough?

Dr. Robert and puppyKennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease which is caused by Bordatella bronchiseptica (bacteria), parainfluenza virus, and canine adenovirus type 2. An infection due to one or more of these organisms will usually result in a chronic honking cough which will sometimes end with a gagging response. This disease is such named because of its highly contagious nature in close quarter areas. It is quickly and efficiently spread through the air. A dog kennel, however, is not the only place the disease may be spread. Other places include grooming facilities, veterinary clinics or hospitals, or anywhere else including a house where an infected dog is in contact with an uninfected dog.

How is kennel cough diagnosed?

The diagnosis of kennel cough is usually based on the history of the patient being exposed to an infected dog or being at a facility where other dogs are present. Also clinical symptoms consistent with those described above and not being current on vaccinations are red flags. Symptoms usually occur 3-4 days after exposure. A test called a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is available to diagnose those organisms which may be present. This test uses a swab from the back of the patient’s throat. It can take as long as a week, however, to get results back and all organisms involved may not be positively identified.

How is kennel cough treated?

Treatment usually consists of antibiotics and cough suppressants. Occasionally patients may need more extensive treatment if an infection results in pneumonia.

How long does the infection last?

Clinical symptoms of kennel cough may last anywhere from a few days to three weeks.

What is the best way to prevent kennel cough?

Dogs who board, go to the groomer, or spend time around other dogs frequently, should be vaccinated every 6 months.

What does Spring Branch Veterinary Hospital do to help prevent kennel cough?

Our good track record in kennel cough prevention at SBVH is due not only to practice in handling dogs suspicious for having kennel cough but also vaccination requirements for all dogs staying in the hospital. Our staff is trained in recognizing symptoms which are consistent with the infection. Patients with possible kennel cough are taken to our isolation exam room as soon as possible to minimize exposure to other patients. Also, all dogs staying for boarding, grooming, or out-patient procedures are required to be current on the bordatella and DA2PP vaccinations.

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