A virus is apparently the real culprit behind kennel cough.

Dogs and even felines come down with this loud and tormenting dry cough accompanied by a runny nose discharging lightly colored phlegm – indications of a viral cough. Most often, animals are infected following close contact with other animals over short or long periods – for example in kennels. That’s actually the source of this misnomer, kennel cough.

The immune system of dogs that are weak and under stress is generally suppressed, and they face a higher risk of coming down with infectious tracheobronchitis. This disease transmits and spreads very quickly in situations where large numbers of dogs come in contact. This could occur not just in kennels, but also on walks, in puppy and dog schools, canine boarding facilities, at shows, at the vet, in an animal clinic, and in canine sports clubs.

Basically, dogs of all ages are at risk of catching an infection when they nuzzle and sniff their species, since tracheobronchitis spreads via direct contact or transmission of respiratory droplets discharged by coughing or sneezing. The incubation period is one to four weeks for the outbreak of the disease. This viral cough with the symptomatology described above is a highly infectious disease of the bronchi, larynx, and trachea.

Dogs generally self-recover from mild cases of such an infection in about a week. Depending on the circumstances, the infection can spread very rapidly and bring down a whole population of canines in almost a flash.

Hence, you should seek a vet immediately if your dog exhibits symptoms of kennel cough!

This viral cough is caused by certain types of parainfluenza and adona viruses in combination with bacteria. The symptoms of the disease are triggered by the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica. A secondary bacterial infection is what actually governs the severity and course of the illness, which starts off in the mucous membrane of the nose.

The sequela of an infection may be serious complications like fever, a suppurating nose and eyes, and difficulty in breathing. The dog’s general health and strength will be sapped. These symptoms may continue for weeks, sometimes developing into a lung infection.

Infectious tracheobronchitis, with attendant pains and possibly a week-long tormenting inflammation, is treated with antibiotics over an extended period. One can also vaccinate dogs against the main viral and bacterial pathogens, preferably in the spring and fall.

A new vaccine on the market containing attenuated parainfluenza and bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is sprayed precisely where the infection originates – directly into the nose – to help build antibodies. These antibodies increase the dog’s immunity to the natural pathogens and protect it against the illness.

Hanspeter Kobold

December 20, 2005