Kennel cough is a generic term for a canine cold. It can be caused by any number of viruses, but the most common culprit of kennel cough is a bacterium known as bordetella bronchiseptica m. This is the reason kennel cough is often simply referred to as Bordetella. Dogs that contract Bordetella are almost always also infected with a virus of some kind. The bacterium is inhaled and, in a healthy dog under ordinary circumstances, would normally be trapped in the mucus lining of your dog’s airways.
There are a few factors that increase your dog’s risk of infection in North Charleston:
- Cold temperatures
- Viral infection
- Exposure to heavy smoke or excessive dust
- Exposure to large groups of dogs such as boarding kennels, dog parks, or shelters
To reduce the spread of Bordetella, most kennels, doggy daycares and boarding facilities will require your dog to be given the vaccine for the Bordetella bacteria. Some facilities may require the vaccine to be given every six months. Dogs that participate in shows or sports, should also be vaccinated. If you take your dog to a dog park or in other areas where they frequently interact with dogs, our vet will likely suggest that you add the Bordetella vaccine to your annual vaccine regimen.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough North Charleston
Instinctually, dogs try their hardest to hide when they’re ill or weakened in any way, but kennel cough has many obvious symptoms even they can’t conceal. Depending on your dog’s health, they vary in degrees of severity.
- Coughing – This is the most common symptom of kennel cough. This cough sounds like hacking, and sometimes you will hear a honking sound accompanying it. It may sound like your dog has something caught in their throat, and the cough will be persistent. This can be either a dry and hoarse or a productive cough, that might result in your dog gagging or swallowing mucus. Coughing may be worse at night. If you notice your pup coughing often, it’s important that that they go visit their veterinarian.
- Runny Nose – Because a dog’s nose is usually wet (this is helps them pick up scents easier!) it may be difficult to tell when it’s wetter than usual. Signs of a runny nose for dogs usually include dripping from the nostrils and your dog may lick his snout often. While the mucus may remain clear, often you’ll see that it has a green or yellow tint.
- Watery Eyes – If it looks as though your dog has been silently crying, they may have a cold or kennel cough. Your dog’s white blood cells are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to fighting infection and commonly, they create substances that dilate blood vessels and irritate or inflame the nasal mucosa and tear ducts. This is what increases the production of mucus in the nasal cavities and overproduces tears, giving your dog a watery eyed look.
- Lethargy – Your dog’s body is expending a lot of energy trying to fight infection, which may cause him to be less inclined to play, go for walks, or even greet you when you come home. In addition, just like with us, when your good boy doesn’t feel well, he’s going to want to limit activity and sleep. Lethargy can be common in dogs who are older, so it may be difficult to identify if he’s a couch potato anyway. Look out for reluctance or disinterest in doing even the most basic activity and a change in overall demeanor.
- Sneezing – Some sneezing is normal for dogs to do. In fact, dogs often do a “fake sneeze” when playing with other dogs or people to show they’re enjoying themselves. Sneezes caused by kennel cough will happen more regularly, and sometimes can come in the form of fits – where your pup sneezes a bunch of times in succession. When fighting infection, your dog’s body will release its very own anti-inflammatory response, like histamine, which further irritates and dries out her nasal passage and throat. This leads to irritation which triggers the sneezing response.
- Fever – Normally the fever that accompanies kennel cough is deemed a low-grade fever. This is your dog’s immune system’s response to fighting the infection. Since most viruses and bacteria survive very well in normal temperatures, the immune system reacts to heat in hopes of ridding itself from the infection. Dog’s average body temperature is higher than human’s and is considered healthy between 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Low-grade fevers are anything between 103- and 104.5-degrees Fahrenheit, and anything higher that 106 degrees Fahrenheit is extremely dangerous for your pup. Although not as accurate as a rectal thermometer, children’s ear thermometers may provide a good indication of a present fever. Unfortunately, the most accurate way to take your dog’s temperature is rectally, so unless there is a designated doggy thermometer, most people never try to take their pets’ temperature at home.
- Loss of appetite – There are a lot of reasons why illness causes dogs to lose their appetite. Because both fighting infection and digesting food takes up energy, your dog’s lack of interest in eating is likely a natural brain response. When sick, your dog’s brain will change as the body produces cytokines, a chemical used to fight infection. These chemicals tend to cut down on appetite. Kennel cough can also dull your dog’s senses of smell and taste, which are usually what drives his desire to eat. Any change in eating habits can be cause for concern and should be addressed by a veterinarian.
Treating Kennel Cough North Charleston
In some instances of kennel cough, symptoms will remain for up to three weeks after initial exposure, but in some cases they may last longer. Our veterinarian in North Charleston may prescribe an antibiotic to fight the Bordetella bacterium and prevent secondary infections. Giving your dog lots of time to rest and making sure they eat and drink plenty of water that will help them recover. It is important to note that this highly contagious infection can remain communicable for up to two weeks, so it is recommended that if your dog has kennel cough you should keep them home and away from other dogs or places dogs frequent for at least that long. If you suspect your dog might have kennel cough in North Charleston, please give our staff a call today at (843)-553-0441.