During summertime, there is a large increase in the number of vacations and trips for us humans, and consequently an increase in the number of dogs at kennels and boarding facilities. As is the case with the first week of preschool, summer is the time of year for dogs to spread upper respiratory infections to their friends at “camp.” The most common of these infections is kennel cough. Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis, most commonly caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. Dogs infected with kennel cough have a classic harsh, hacking cough, most commonly described as “something caught in my dog’s throat.”
The incubation period for dogs exposed to kennel cough is anywhere from 2 to 14 days. Dogs can be sick from anywhere from 1-2 weeks. Typically, kennel cough is a self-limiting upper respiratory infection. Dogs that are otherwise healthy are usually able to clear the infection on their own and aside from coughing, act completely normal. We typically will prescribe a cough suppressant (such as Hydrocodone) to help keep them comfortable while they recover. Complicated cases of kennel cough can progress to dogs feeling sick, with them becoming lethargic, inappetent and febrile. In extreme cases, it can spread down the respiratory tract and cause pneumonia. For more clinically significant cases, we prescribe a course of antibiotics (such as Doxycycline) to help clear the infection.
To help prevent the spread of kennel cough, vaccination prior to boarding is strongly recommended. The kennel cough vaccine lasts for one year and can be included in your dog’s yearly exam. The kennel cough vaccine is not 100% at preventing an infection, but it also helps stimulate a dog’s immune system to help them clear a potential infection faster in the future. If your dog needs to be updated with its kennel cough vaccine, please give us a call to schedule a check-up (preferably at least two weeks before boarding)!