Whenever enough animals congregate in the same place, disease is likely to follow. Like the common cold, “kennel cough” is a viral bacterial infection and is an extremely contagious disease. Dogs catch the cough from dogs when they are in close quarters, through infected objects, and by aerosols in the air. Though this occurs most frequently in shelters with poor air circulation, as well as dog kennels, dog hotels, indoor training classes, or even veterinary clinics if an area has not been sanitized. If dogs so much as share a water bowl, or lick each other’s faces and one of the has kennel cough, they may spread the illness.
Dogs that have the infection will show almost no symptoms aside from the continuous cacophony of coughing. Their energy level and appetite usually do not alter, though in some cases there may be slight nasal drainage and wheezy breathing. The condition has taken a turn for the worse if the dog becomes feverish, or coughs up a milky phlegm. If you suspect your dog has caught the kennel cough from a vet clinic, pet hotel or rescue home that you recently visited, be sure to call the staff members and notify them so that they may be aware that the infection is going around.
One of the best ways to avoid kennel cough, is to address the problem before it begins. Take your dog to the vet for a vaccination with the bordetella shot, parainfluenza, and adenovirus-2. If your dog already has the virus, fortunately, the dog will usually heal naturally if he is provided the right care. The pup should be kept out of contact with other dogs until he is healed, and made to rest as much as possible. Help any congestion and breathing difficulty by plugging in a humidifier, or letting him sit on the bathroom floor while the shower is on (for the steam).
If the coughing is robbing the dog of sleep, go to the vet and request a cough-suppressant or antimicrobial to alleviate the most frustrating symptoms. Feed your dog high-quality dog food products, or homemade whole foods and supplements to help his body fight the germs, and try to avoid anything too exciting until the dog seems to be on the mend. Loud homes, parties, bright lights, high-volume music, or rigorous exercise may slow the healing process from the standard 2-3 week time frame, to week or months longer. It is better to go nice and easy for a while, until you canine counterpart is back in action!