Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious, upper respiratory disease in dogs caused by a variety of bacteriae and viruses. The most common are parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and mycoplasma. Other agents include Canine adenovirus, reovirus, herpes virus.

The disease has a very dramatic presentation. Puppies are highly susceptible and typically develop a sudden dry hacking cough, violent retching and sometimes breathing difficulty. A watery nasal discharge may also be present. Many dogs continue to eat and be alert and active but some develop lethargy, fever, anorexia (not eating) and possibly pneumonia.

The diagnosis is clinical in most cases and is based on the typical cough (“Honking”) and a recent history of exposure to dog in populated areas such as boarding facilities, pet stores, shelters, grooming, training classes or dog parks.

Mild (uncomplicated) form of the disease is usually self-limiting. More severe cases can be treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, cough suppressors and moister. Nebulizing treatment is sometimes more effective and quick.

Puppies with immature immune system should not be exposed to other dogs and high risk environments until immunity is solid and vaccination plan is completed. Multi-pet households should remember that adult healthy dogs may be carriers and transmit diseases to newly introduced puppies. At the same time, recovering or otherwise healthy looking puppies arriving from pet stores, shelters or industrial breeders with kennel cough issues, may introduce the disease to unprotected family dogs.

Most if not all dogs should be properly vaccinated against respiratory diseases, as exposure is almost inevitable due to the common canine lifestyle and activity.

Bordetella bronchiseptica may cause disease in immunocompromised humans, and young children.

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