Kennel cough is a complex disease which cause hasn’t being established yet with certainty. It’s caused by different pathogens, among them a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica and a virus that is called Parainfluenza virus.
Is common in certain seasons of the year like the rainy season or the cold season, due to the stress that weather changes produce in the immune system. It´s also very contagious and can be transmitted easily among dogs especially if they are housed together, that’s why it’s called kennel cough as it is very common in kennels or other sites where dogs are kept together.
Kennel cough is usually self-limitant – meaning that the immune system can deal with it without needing help from medicines, but sometimes – especially in dogs with nutritional or immune problems, it can evolve and produce a chronic disease that is very uncomfortable for the dog.
Fortunately, it is very easy to avoid it: vaccination is available and the vaccine is very affordable. It is recommended to apply it before the season change, meaning – for La Paz, in October or November, and in immune challenged dogs, it is recommended to apply it also in March. At our clinic we vaccinate our dogs twice a year in October-November and March-May.
There are two presentations of the vaccine: subcutaneous and intranasal, the last one meaning that is a liquid that has to be sprayed inside the nostrils of the dog. I personally prefer the intranasal one as it’s more effective against the Bordetella bacteria, and I apply it only once to my dogs – even to the immune suppressed one.
But sometimes, even with the vaccine the dog develops the disease that is very easily recognizable because the dog coughs a lot. A dog cough may sound a lot like the dog wants to vomit but it only produces a foamy mucus, that is the more common feature of the disease. Some other signs will be easy recognizable by the veterinarian, such as lung sounds, and an irritable trachea.
The veterinarian may prescribe some antibiotics and expectorants – cough medicine, and in most of the cases, the disease may pass in a few days. However, in some cases the cough may become chronic and some lung problems may develop.
So, please, vaccinate your dogs, it’s always better to prevent than to correct. And it’s cheaper too 😉
Rebeca Kobelkowsky, DVM, Dipl., MSc.