Our dogs have never had kennel cough–maybe that’s because they don’t get out much!  They have a big back yard to play in and they keep each other busy.  We don’t ever board them, take them to doggy day care, or to pet shops.  We’ve tried the dog park–but that didn’t work out well!  In fact, that is another post in itself!  My four dogs are most comfortable in their back yard with each other!  Even though we have never experienced kennel cough, I was curious as to what it is and thus the reason for this post.

Kennel cough falls under the area of upper respiratory infections such as “colds” or “tracheobronchitis.”  It takes about 8 – 10 days from when your dog was infected from being kenneled with other dogs before it will become obvious that something is wrong with your dog.  These infections usually start in the upper respiratory tract and remain in the upper respiratory tract.  Symptoms are usually runny nose or eyes, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and sometimes inflammation of the tissues of the mouth.

The cough is a hacking cough that sounds almost like your dog is trying to clear his throat.  There usually isn’t any mucous or discharge from the mouth if it isn’t severe.  It is common for kennel cough to occur in spurts of coughing, meaning your dog will cough, then rest, then cough again.  At the end of the coughing, if your dog is retching and coughs up a white foamy discharge he may have severe kennel cough and needs to see your veterinarian.

If your dog has a persistent cough and the coughing gets worse at night you can give him cough syrup.  It is best to give your dog the cough syrup in a syringe.  There are different sizes of syringes available.    It is important that you consult your veterinarian about how much and how frequently you should give cough syrup to your dog.  Open your dog’s mouth towards the cheek, insert the syringe, and give him the cough syrup.

If your dog continues to cough and you notice that he is getting lethargic, you need to consult your veterinarian.  Your vet will probably put your dog on antibiotics to make sure he doesn’t get a more serious infection.

If your dog is very lethargic and breathing very shallowly you should take your dog to the veterinarian.  Your vet will probably take lung x-rays and test your dog’s oxygen levels.  If your dog is trying to avoid coughing because it is uncomfortable for him, this will cause him to take shallow breaths.  The more shallow breaths he takes, the less oxygen he has coming in.  This will reduce the level of blood oxygen in his body.  If the case becomes very extreme, your dog will need medical attention.  He may need to be given oxygen nasally and/or he might need IV-fluids.

It most cases kennel cough will usually run its course in two weeks.

For most dogs to be infected it takes a massive exposure which usually occurs when a group of dogs, especially the young and stressed are together.  Locations for this to happen are boarding kennels, animal shelters, groom shops, crowded parks, pet shops, and it can even occur at dog shows.

Watch this video to see what kennel cough sounds like:

Filed under: Dog Care

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