Kennel cough: What you need to know
We all know the importance of vaccinating our dogs and responsible pet parents always keep a health record of all their fur babies. Vaccinations are basically categorised in to two sections: Core vaccines and Non-Core vaccines. Now core vaccines are those that you must absolutely get done for your cat or dog. These include injections for rabies and the distemper combination vaccine (Distemper, Parovirus, Adenovirus and the Parainfluenza virus not only have a high rate of infection, but they also pose a great threat to both canine/feline and human life.) that your vet administers every year.
On the other hand, Non-Core vaccines are those that are given to protect pets against certain diseases based on factors such as age, lifestyle as well as geographic locations (where a particular disease occurs commonly). As a result, they are only administered when a pet risks exposure to the particular disease.
Kennel Cough is an example of this. Also known as canine cough, and officially known as Tracheobronchitis, it is a highly contagious disease that affects the respiratory system of your dog.
How it spreads
It essentially spreads through direct contact between canines such as licking or touching noses and by sharing common water or food that has been contaminated. It is also an airborne disease, so for example when a dog coughs, other dogs in the immediate vicinity have a good chance of catching it. An otherwise healthy dog has the most chances of contracting this disease at a place where many dogs tend to gather. These include:
- Kennels or boarding facilities
- Dog shows
- Training or obedience schools
- Common areas reserved for dogs, such as dog parks
It is to be noted that, so far there has been no research to show that such cough can spread between dogs and humans and therefore, do not worry and focus on helping your pet.
What you should watch out for:
You need to plan a quick visit to your vet if your four-legged baby displays the following symptoms:
- A dry, hacking cough along with some retching
- Mild to moderate fever
- A runny and sneezy nose
- Loss of appetite and lethargy
In milder cases, the dogs are relatively active but in advanced cases, untreated symptoms can lead up to pneumonia, high fever and even death.
Is it really such a big deal?
Well, yes it is! While most of the symptoms described above don’t differ from that of a common cold, your dog’s health and immune system can take a terrible beating from it. The tracheobronchitis virus essentially attacks healthy cells in the respiratory tract and causes damage to the trachea. Most healthy dogs recover from this within three to four weeks. Dogs, however, who are extremely old or young as those that have a compromised immune system take as much as seven weeks to recover.
You vet might suggest the following:
- Cough suppressants and antibiotics
- Frequent steaming and vapourising
Most vets also ask you to minimise your dog’s exposure to smoke or any noxious fumes. Common sources cited as cigarette smoke, bonfires and fumes from pollution. Another tip to help the pooch recover faster is to replace collars with harnesses. This will cause less strain on their throats.
In many parts of India, kennel cough vaccinates are not a part of the annual vaccination package. You must check with your vet to find out if your dog needs this vaccine. Or if you live in an area where this is prevalent. It is, therefore, also very important to thoroughly check any boarding houses or kennels you intend to leave your pooch at, at any given point of time. Prevention is a million times better that the cure.
Happy pet parenting!