If you have ever put your dog in daycare or left them overnight at a vet, you may have heard of kennel cough. Where can dogs get kennel cough? Is it only transferred to vets or daycares? This illness is often misunderstood.
What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a very infectious disease that affects a dog’s respiratory system. It’s an illness that impacts any dog if they’ve come into contact with other dogs.
Kennel cough is a broad term. It can actually apply to a bacterial infection, but it also refers to a viral infection as well. The reason for this is that regardless of what is causing the infection, the symptoms are pretty much the same. Most often, kennel cough is caused by a viral infection. This viral infection weakens the immune system to the point that a bacterial infection also grows.
Because kennel cough is a broad catch-all diagnosis for some respiratory infections, there are many different symptoms you should be on the lookout for.
What are The Symptoms of Kennel Cough?
Because kennel cough is a respiratory infection, the most common symptoms have to do with how your dog breathes. Common symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Low fever
- A “honking” cough
Kennel cough gets its name from the intense cough that is associated with it. If your dog has this illness, you’ll likely first notice the intense cough. It is sometimes compared to whooping cough in humans as it can have a similar intensity.
Even though kennel cough sounds terrible, the good news is that it is very treatable.
How is Kennel Cough Treated?
Kennel cough should be treatable in a healthy dog. If your dog is immunocompromised, much more care should be taken in their treatment. Otherwise, a healthy dog should get over the illness rather quickly.
Your vet will likely just suggest a week or two of rest. If your dog is healthy, that should usually be enough to kick a bout of kennel cough. If your vet thinks the infection is more serious, they may prescribe antibiotics that are meant for dogs.
Your vet may also suggest using a harness when going out on walks as well. Simply using a collar and a lead can cause irritation to your dog’s trachea. At worst, it can actually cause damage, and no recovering dog needs the added injury.
Where Can Dogs Get Kennel Cough?
Now that you know what kennel cough is, you should probably be on the lookout for where your dog can get kennel cough. The bad news is that your dog can get it pretty much anywhere. It’s called kennel cough, but your dog doesn’t have to go to a kennel to get it.
Your dog is at risk of getting kennel cough pretty much any time they leave the house. You can think of kennel cough as the common cold in humans. You can get a cold if someone coughs near you, or if you touch a surface that a sick person has touched. The same goes for your dog. Maybe they say hello to a friend while they’re on a walk. Maybe they drink from a communal dog bowl. Your dog might even catch kennel cough when they go to your local dog park.
The point is, your dog can catch kennel cough anytime they come in contact with other dogs. That doesn’t mean that you should try to put your dog in a bubble to protect them though.
How to Prevent Kennel Cough
There are some common-sense ways you can protect your dog from kennel cough. The first way to prevent kennel cough is to get your dog vaccinated. There is a vaccine available that helps protect your dog from the bordetella bacterium. If your dog is commonly put in daycare or if they are otherwise exposed to other dogs, it’s a good idea to vaccinate them. This vaccine is available in many different forms and can help protect your dog if they come in close contact with other dogs often.
It is important to remember however, that kennel cough can be caused by bacteria. In this case, it’s about as effective as the flu shot for humans. It doesn’t guarantee that your dog won’t get kennel cough, but it’s always a good idea to keep them safe.
If you are going to be putting your dog in contact with large groups of dogs, the kennel cough vaccine is very affordable insurance against them getting sick.