Infectious tracheobronchitis, regularly called kennel cough is an infectious disease that causes a nasty cough in affected dogs.
While most healthy dogs can recover without help, dogs who catch kennel cough can be unwell for several weeks, and also pass on the infection to other dogs. As kennel cough spreads so rapidly, a vaccination is available to help protect your dog against these nasty signs.
More about kennel cough
Did you know that canine infectious tracheobronchitis is a respiratory infection that can be caused by a number of bacteria and viruses, not just one? The signs and treatment are the same in the vast majority of cases, whichever bacteria or virus is the culprit, so usually these are all grouped together as one condition.
All of the viruses and bacteria that can cause kennel cough are airborne and highly infectious, and can be spread by being close to infected dogs, or sharing items such as toys or bowls. As you can imagine it’s very contagious, and easy to pick up wherever an infected dog is or has been! This means the name ‘kennel cough’ can be misleading as, although it can spread rapidly in situations with lots of dogs such as boarding kennels, any dog in contact with an infected dog can contract the illness.
The main sign of infectious tracheobronchitis is a forceful hacking cough, which may sound like retching, or trying to clear something stuck in the throat. This cough can last for many weeks! Infectious tracheobronchitis may go away on its own if your dog’s immune system is able to fight off the condition, but some dogs need prescription medication to help them recover. It is best to get your dog checked out by your vet at the first signs of coughing as not only will they be posing an infection risk to other dogs, but the longer the condition persists, the higher the chance of more serious complications, such as pneumonia. Please let your vet know when you book your appointment that you are worried about kennel cough, as they will most likely ask you to wait outside before being seen. There are also other, more serious causes of coughing, so any coughing dog should be checked over.
Having kennel cough does not, sadly, provide future immunity. Just like the flu in humans, there are lots of strains of kennel cough, and this means that dogs can pick up this disease multiple times throughout their lives.
You can minimise the chance of your dog contracting infectious tracheobronchitis by having your dog vaccinated. This vaccination is given by a squirt up the nose, not an injection! This gets the immunity right where it is needed.
Although the vaccination does a great job of reducing the risk of infection, it doesn’t completely prevent your dog picking up kennel cough as there are so many different pathogens that can cause it. In most cases however, if your dog does pick up kennel cough despite the vaccination, the signs are much milder than they would have been otherwise, and recovery time is shorter.
It is important to note that your standard yearly booster does not protect against infectious bronchitis/kennel cough, so you’ll need to make sure you get this for your dog as well as their standard annual injection. Both can be done at the same time, so you don’t have to make an extra trip, and each kennel cough vaccination lasts a year.
Kennel cough vaccination is not a ‘core’ vaccination, as it is rare that a dog becomes very unwell. However, because of the rapid spread, many places where dogs gather such as kennels, groomers and doggy daycares require attending dogs to have the vaccination.
It’s also a sensible precaution anyway – the only other way to protect your dog from kennel cough is to keep them inside and away from all other dogs, which would be very sad for you both! Having the vaccination is a quick and effective way to give your dog as much protection as you can from infectious tracheobronchitis.
If you want to get your dog booked in for a kennel cough vaccination, please book with your local Vets4Pets.
People with suppressed immune systems should take care around dogs with kennel cough and avoid contact.
Dogs can be contagious for up to 20 days, even if their clinical signs have resolved.