Kennel Cough in Dogs
Kennel cough is making the rounds again (the whole summer has been like this!) so please be mindful with your dog's exposure.
A few tips:
- Never allow your dog to drink out of communal water bowls. You have my permission to be bossy and pick up and dump the dog park water bowl to prevent dogs from sharing it. This is how it starts its rounds. Instead, bring a water bottle for your own dog and encourage others to do so too.
- Choose your dog walker/daycare very carefully (ask us for a recommendation) and ensure they know what to look for and what to do in the event of an outbreak.
- At the first sign of your dog coughing, gagging, honking, or having any discharge from their nose, stop and assess. Monitor your dog for continuous symptoms. If it continues and is unproductive (meaning they don't just cough up a tiny wood chip or something), call your vet and ask for guidance. They may ask you to bring the dog in but they will come outside to your car to assess your dog rather than bring the virus into the clinic where other compromised pets can catch it. Be sure you tell them the dog's symptoms over the phone before bringing them in.
If your dog comes in contact with a dog with kennel cough or is diagnosed with kennel cough:
- Avoid contact with other dogs (this includes you - you carry it on your clothes and hands!).
- Do not bring your dog into class, daycare, or dog parks. Notify your dog walker immediately and switch to private walks. Your dog walker will need to wash up well and change their clothes after coming in contact with your dog.
- Set up a cool mist humidifier and always have access to fresh water in a bowl that is washed in hot water and soap daily. Keep household dogs separated and with their own water bowls.
- Give your dog a little honey before bed if your veterinarian concurs.
- Wash your hands and change into clean clothes before coming in contact with other dogs.
- Track your dog's symptoms on a calendar. 7-10 days after the last cough, your dog can rejoin dog society, classes, daycare, and group walks.
Dogs are often contagious a week before they are symptomatic which makes it all very challenging to manage. If your dog comes in contact with a dog with kennel cough, you should take these precautions and monitor it for 7-10 days.
Most dogs get through kennel cough in 1-2 weeks without a problem. A small number of dogs may aspirate and require emergency veterinary care (watch for lethargy, and fever). If your dog is very young, very old, or has a compromised immune system, they are at a higher risk.
There is a vaccine (Bordetella) but even vaccinated dogs can get kennel cough as there are various types and strains. It is not a 100% catch-all preventive solution so do not rely solely on it. It is not zoonotic, meaning it does not transfer to people.
Please speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.