When 3 year old, Golden Retriever Sasha, started coughing, his owner thought she had something stuck in her throat as she started coughing and then gagging as if her throat was irritated by something. However, when the cough did not resolve within 24 hours he took Sasha to the vet concerned there must be something blocking her airway.
“My dog seems like he has something stuck in his throat” is something vets hear often as a description from owners. More often than not this typical cough is a sign of kennel cough.
Medically known as Bordetella or Infectious Tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is common in dogs that are gathered together in kennels (hence the name kennel cough)or dog parks, dog shows, or just about anywhere where airborne viruses can spread from a dog to another.SYMPTOMS
Dogs affected by kennel cough will often develop symptoms approximately 3-7 days post exposure. The most common symptoms suggesting this respiratory infection are:
- Dry hacking cough
- “Something stuck in throat” appearance
- Cough following exercise
- Nasal discharge
- Lethargy (in most severe cases)
- Inappetence (in most severe cases)
- Fever (in most severe cases)
- Pneumonia ( in very severe cases)
- Death (in very rare instances)
In Sasha’s case her symptoms appeared days later after having socialized with other dogs at a dog park. She was not vaccinated that year against Bordetella so that made her particularly susceptible to the infection. Her appetite appeared normal and she was her normal playful self, her rectal temperature registered 100.9 which was considered normal.
Treatment of Kennel Cough
Kennel cough often resolves itself within 2-3 weeks. However, antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent complications and speed up recovery. In some cases cough suppressants are prescribed. In Sasha’s case a 14 day course was prescribed. She recovered pretty fast and her cough gradually went away one week following treatment.
Home Remedies for Kennel Cough
- Minor cases are often treated at home by clearing up the airway with a non-medicated humidifier or by having the dog breath in a bathroom full of hot water steam.
- Feeding the dog some warm broth with no onion or garlic may help open up passage ways. Make sure it is not too hot by testing the temperature with a finger.
- Adding some warm water to kibble is another good way to loosen secretions.
- Administering Robitussin DM at a dosage of 1/4 teaspoon per 5 pounds has proved helpful in minor cases, however, as with any medication it is highly advised to consult with a vet first and seek information about side effects, correct dosage and interactions with other medications.
Bordetella vaccines are very good in preventing this annoying respiratory infection. The vaccine may be administered intranasally or by traditional inoculation. The intranasal form appears to begin immunization more swiftly versus the traditional inoculation version.
Kennel cough is a pretty common respiratory disease, however, any case of coughing needs closely monitored and investigated as any cough can suggest other more serious problems such as potential heart conditions, valley fever or even heartworm disease, all conditions that can be life threatening.