Kennel Cough is one of the most common infections your dog will likely pick up at least once in her lifetime. While we all want what is best for our pets, and loyal companions, kennel cough is no reason to panic.
Canine kennel cough or Tracheobronchitis is essentially an infection in the upper respiratory system. Think of it as bronchitis for dogs. Its symptoms are in fact very similar to human symptoms. Most likely your dog will experience a dry, hacking cough. Your first thought will likely be that they've swallowed something, or have something stuck in their throat. They will continue to cough, sometimes bringing up mucus, or a foamy saliva. This coughing is normal in this infection. To help prevent the coughing, remove any collars or bandanas your dog might wear. Anything in contact or rubbing on the trachea can trigger a coughing fit. Avoid stroking your dog's throat for this same reason, and cut down on long walks where the leash will agitate this area.
While there are antibiotics available for treating Kennel Cough, they are not always necessary. Like humans, relying on antibiotics or other medications can lead to a weakened immune system, and impair your dogs ability to fight off common infections and colds.
When treating Kennel Cough keep your dog relaxed. Limit vigorous activity and exercise for a few days in order to allow your dogs energy to focus on fighting the infection. Also, keep her warm and comfortable. Most importantly, limit your dog's exposure to other dogs. Avoid dog parks and places where dogs congregate for a few days. While there is a vaccine available to prevent the spread of Kennel Cough, it is reported to be only 60% effective. It is akin to a flu shot, in that it only effective in preventing one particular strain of Kennel Cough.
Remember to provide your dog with lots of fresh water, and continually monitor her behaviour. While it's common for dogs to eat less, or even less frequently when they are sick, keep an eye on how much they are eating. Don't worry if your dog skips a meal. If they continue to avoid eating, this might be a good time to check in with your vet. Or first, try to treat test! If you think your dog is not eating, offer their favourite treat. If they eat it, they're usually fine, and will come around to their usual kibble when they're feeling up to it.
In summary, Kennel Cough is no cause for panic. Treating Kennel Cough is like treating the common cold and will likely only last between 4 and 10 days. Healthy dogs are more likely to have a strong immune system to fight off this infection, so feed your companion a high quality food, and provide lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Your dog will thank you!