Kennel cough is a very contagious disease. There are viruses (canine adenovirus, parinfluenza and bacteria (bordatella bronchisepta) that can be its cause.
Kennel cough provokes a tracheal bronchitis, meaning,inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tubes. The cough can appear quite suddenly and severely, and may or may not be productive. The cough, may worsen with exercise and when your dog becomes excited or even by applying pressure against the collar on the throat. When the trachea is touched, a cough may be produced.
Other clinical signs that may be presented are nasal discharge, you will notice that your dog may swallow much more often(because of the swelling of the trachea). As soon as your dog starts to show any signs of these symptoms, it is extremely important that your dog avoids any contact with other dogs to avoid spreading the disease.
A diagnosis can be reached with a medical examination and by its symptoms. Two weeks before the appearance of the symptoms, contact with other dogs are often reported (boarding, dog parks, hospitalization, a new puppy). Further investigation (blood work, radiography and/ or bronchoalveolaire lavage) is recommended for dogs presenting symptoms suggesting a more severe condition, or for those whose symptoms haven’t been resolved with treatment.
Treatment for kennel cough will often depend on the severity of clinical symptoms. In less severe cases (no nasal discharge and very small irritation of the trachea.)There is no prescribed treatment besides one week of bed rest. The rest will help reduce irritation (due to coughing) which will then accelerate healing.
For more severe cases, antibiotics, anti-cough, or anti-inflammatory medicine may be prescribed. Prognosis for this condition is excellent and there should ne no long term effects.
This is not a hereditary disease. As for prevention, certain measures can be taken to avoid infection. There exists a vaccination against kennel cough (adenovirus and parainfluenza make up a part of the basic vaccine and bordetella bronchisepta bacteria is found in its own vaccine)
As for the bordatella bronchisepta vaccine, it cannot completely prevent infection; however it will greatly reduce the severity of symptoms. There are 2 forms of vaccinations for bordatella bronchisepta bacteria. The first one is an intra-nasal, and the second comes in an injectable form. The intra-nasal vaccine gives a quicker and more targeted protection (it stimulates the nasal membranes immunity, which would come in first contact with the bacteria when there is infection). However studies have shown that the 2 forms of vaccines offer the same long term protection.
Ideally, to prevent the spread of this disease, you need to avoid having contact between your dog and non-vaccinated dog or one presenting kennel cough symptoms. When adopting a new puppy, you should wait 10 days before letting him have contact with other dogs because he may already be infected, but won’t show any signs until a few days after adoption.