Kennel cough can be caused by myriad bacteria or viruses, but the primary culprit is Bordetella bronchiseptica. This germ is a cousin of the bacteria that causes whooping cough in people. In addition to inflammation of the large airways, concurrent swelling of the vocal cords can cause laryngitis, resulting in the characteristic “goose honk” cough. Owners also often report that their dog has vomited, but in fact, the poor pooch is having the gag reflex and retching from excessive mucus in his throat.
Other than the classic cough, some dogs with kennel cough are active and eating well. However, this disease may cause fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and, occasionally, pneumonia and death.
Although most dogs with kennel cough will recover uneventfully, nursing care and medication can make Fido feel better. If your dog is up all night coughing, ask your veterinarian for a cough suppressant. Depending on the clinical presentation, antibiotics may be indicated, too. However, antibiotics do not help all cases of kennel cough.
Vaccination is a good option for dogs at higher risk, and is required by most boarding kennels and some other dog establishments. Discuss your dog’s lifestyle with your veterinarian, so that you can decide together whether the kennel cough vaccine is a good idea for your Fido.
There are two different kinds of kennel cough vaccines. One is given by injection under the skin, much like other vaccines that your dog would receive. The other is administered as drops up his nose. Each has pros and cons, so talk with your veterinarian about which would be a better choice for your dog.
Some things to keep in mind about these vaccines:
The intranasal vaccine is usually effective within a few days. This can be helpful if your vacation is just around the corner. This is in contrast to the injectable vaccine, which can take a month to protect your pooch.