Kennel cough, also known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract. The causes are various viruses and bacteria. Dogs whose immune system is weakened, who have frequent contact with other four-legged friends, or who are kept in kennels are susceptible to kennel cough – hence the name.
Kennel cough is an infectious disease that attacks the dog’s airways and leads to coughing fits. The trachea and bronchi are particularly badly affected. Tracheobronchitis is not fatal. In healthy dogs with a strong immune system, the disease is less pronounced. If it is a weakened animal or a puppy, the canine flu lasts for several weeks and affects the quality of life of the four-legged friend to a great extent.
Contagion with the Kennel Cough
The dog becomes infected through contact with other pets. A sniff or lick is enough. An infected drinking or food bowl can also be the cause of the infection. The main pathogens are the canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica. Other pathogens are often involved, such as the canine herpes virus, the canine reovirus, or the human influenza virus type A2. The incubation period is between two and 30 days.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
In the initial phase, the pathogens attack the mucous membranes of your four-legged friend. The result is a loud, dry, barking cough. Your pet has a runny nose and watery eyes. When you apply slight pressure to the windpipe, e.g. B. by pulling on the leash or collar, your dog will immediately cough violently and dryly.
These symptoms worsen as the disease progresses. In addition to the cough, there is persistent gagging that sounds as if your four-legged friend has swallowed something. The coughing fits get worse. A purulent discharge oozes from the nose and the dog vomits frequently. His throat and larynx as well as the windpipe and bronchi become inflamed. He gets a fever.
The animal eats as usual. But drinking may cause him pain and lead to a coughing failure. Therefore it can happen that he refuses to drink. As with humans, the dog suffers most at night. He hardly comes to rest and has a strong cough and a slimy throat.
Causes of the Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a multifactorial disease. In addition to being infected by other infected animals, the way they are kept is one of the reasons for tracheobronchitis to break out. If the animal is kept in a kennel or in a group of dogs, such as in an animal shelter, or if it is exposed to high humidity, this promotes the disease. Poor hygiene is another reason. In addition, if the immune system is weakened by stress, previous illness, or change of ownership, the animal is more susceptible to the canine flu.
Diagnosis and Treatment by the Veterinarian
Do not wait too long to visit the vet and make sure that there is no time in the waiting room so that other animals do not become infected.
The veterinarian will take a medical history and examination. He will also order a saliva test and throat swab, as well as a blood test to rule out other diseases. As soon as the laboratory results are available, the doctor will take an antibiogram to find out which antibiotics are effective against the pathogens.
In severe cases, the veterinarian will also take an X-ray of the lungs. The treatment is carried out with antibiotics as well as antipyretic, expectorant, and antitussive drugs. In a very severe form of canine flu with pneumonia, extensive antibiotic therapy is carried out for up to three months. In all other cases, the kennel cough heals after a few weeks.
Prevent Kennel Cough in Dogs
If you want to reduce the risk of the disease, you can have the dog vaccinated as a precaution. The vaccine consists of the two main pathogens. It is injected into the animal’s nose. After 72 hours, it will be immune to the canine flu. The vaccination does not have to be repeated. One syringe is enough and your dog is protected from kennel cough for a year. If tracheobronchitis occurs despite the vaccination, the disease will only develop slightly.
Eat your dog fully, exercise a lot, and often in the fresh air. Also, deworm it regularly. Furthermore, it makes sense not to let the animal drink or eat from other drinking and feeding bowls.
How Can You Do Good to Your Four-Legged Friend?
It is important that the dog does not exert himself or have any stress. Otherwise, this leads to secondary diseases such as pneumonia in the already weakened immune system. So give him enough rest.
If possible, go for walks where you can avoid contact with other dogs. Ventilate the rooms regularly so that your four-legged friend can breathe fresh air. Also, make sure that the air at home is not too humid and that the dog’s sleeping area is clean. Disinfect blankets and food bowls. When walking, you should use a chest harness so that you do not put pressure on the sore throat.
The Dog Has Kennel Cough: Home Remedies That Will Help
If your four-legged friend has the dog flu, you can alleviate the first symptoms with home remedies. This measure does not replace a visit to the vet, but it does calm you down. Against the urge to cough, you can give some warm water with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice several times a day.
Vitamin C tablets, wild berry bark, fennel, peppermint, and Makulan (Mexican pepper) help to strengthen the immune system. You can add these home remedies to the feed or mix them with warm water. Treatment with natural active ingredients has not been medically proven, but many dog owners report a positive effect.