With the holidays nearly here, many pet owners will be boarding their pets in overnight kennels while they travel. While most kennels are safe, fun places to keep your dog while you’re away, one of the dangers to be aware of is Bordetella, or kennel cough.
This highly contagious disease is very common in kennel situations where dogs are kept together in close proximity. The Bordetella bacteria is one of the major causes of the illness and can spread through the air, food and water bowls and contact with bodily fluids.
If you pick your dog up from the kennel and it’s suffering from a harsh, hacking cough, it likely has Bordetella.
How kennel cough affects dogs
Kennel cough is not a very serious illness, although the dry, intense coughing is causes often alarms pet parents. Dogs that contract kennel cough typically show signs for three to six weeks and will recover on their own.
Dogs with kennel cough usually only present a strong coughing, which is sometimes accompanied by dry heaving because of the force. It may also contract a mild fever if it has a more severe strand of the disease. Usually, the disease will not affect your dog’s activity levels of appetite—if it does, you may want to consult a vet in case your dog has something more serious.
The only times when kennel cough is cause for major concern is if a young puppy or a very old or immunocompromised dog catches it. In these cases, the disease may cause severe respiratory problems or lead to the contraction of additional, more life-threatening diseases. If your young or elderly dog has caught Bordetella, you should seek immediate veterinary intervention.
Helping your dog heal from kennel cough
Dogs with kennel cough will usually develop a sore throat and sensitive trachea because of all their forceful, hacking coughs. Although your dog will heal on its own in time, you can help your dog remain more comfortable and minimize its coughing by implementing a few at-home treatments.
- Throat-soothing supplements: Administering natural supplements that are designed to relax the throat and ease symptoms of coughing can help minimize the amount of coughing your dog endures while it fights off the illness. These types of products combine herbal ingredients that bolster your dog’s immunity, support the throat and bronchial tissues and reduce inflammation of the respiratory system for improved breathing and comfort.
- Steam: Let your dog sit in the bathroom while you shower and fill the room with steam. The extra humidity present in the air can help open your dog’s nose, throat and lungs and allow it to breathe more easily without coughing. Also, installing a humidifier in the room where your dog relaxes or sleeps most often can also provide the same kind of relief.
- Immune boosters Providing your dog extra vitamin C or other natural methods of bolstering immunity can help its body fight off the disease faster and easier. This may result in less severe symptoms, a faster recovery period and a shorter “shedding�? time when your dog is still contagious.
- Honey: Giving your dog up to one teaspoon of honey per day can help soothe its throat. Honey is packed with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe aching and irritated throats. If your dog has trouble taking the sticky honey directly from a spoon, dilute it with a little bit of warm water in a bowl.
Minimizing the spread of kennel cough
Once your dog has recovered from kennel cough, you must remember that it will still be a carrier for the illness for another few weeks. In some cases, dogs can shed the virus or bacteria for up to 14 weeks after contracting it.
This means that your dog should not be placed in another kennel, and contact with other dogs during this time should be extremely limited. If your dog spends a lot of time with other canines, it has an even higher chance of passing the illness onto them.
To prevent the spread of kennel cough, you can get your dog vaccinated at the vet. The vaccination is relatively widespread in this day and age and can help minimize your dog’s risk of catching (and spreading) the disease after close encounters with other pups.
If your dog catches kennel cough, be sure to watch its symptoms and note if it begins to act lethargic, stops eating or isn’t getting better. It’s possible that your dog has a severe strain of the illness or has something else entirely and should visit the vet for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.