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Kennel Cough

March 2021

We are currently seeing an increase in the number of cases of kennel cough in our canine patients and so we thought it would be useful to put up an article to discuss the symptoms and supportive treatment for those that need it.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is the name given to ‘infectious bronchitis’. There is not one cause, but many different infectious pathogens- most are viral.

How is it spread?

Contrary to popular belief, kennel cough is not just spread in kennels. The reason that it has this nickname is purely due to an increased risk of spread of kennel cough when dogs are in close proximity. For this reason, many kennels will require your pet to have had full vaccinations and kennel cough vaccine before staying with them.

It is spread by airborne particles from sneezing/coughing, similar to the flu in humans. Some pathogens can live in the environment and infect animals without coming into direct contact with an infectious dog. For this reason, we recommend that if your dog has kennel cough, that they are kept away from other dogs until 2 weeks after symptoms resolve.

How is it treated?

Due to most kennel cough being viral, antibiotics are very rarely indicated. We recommend that if your dog is coughing, that you phone us to book an appointment for a check up with a vet, as there are other reasons for a cough that should be ruled out. We will recommend that you keep your dog in the car, and we will see them in the car-park to reduce the risk of spread into the practice.

Although some dogs will improve without treatment, they will have a sore throat, and quite often we give an anti-inflammatory injection to reduce this discomfort. Softening their food and increasing how much they drink while they have kennel cough can also help to sooth their throat further.

What can we do to prevent kennel cough?

We provide a vaccination against kennel cough. As there are many different strains that cause kennel cough, we can’t vaccinate against everything. Similarly to the ‘flu-jab in humans, the kennel cough vaccine reduces the risk of catching kennel cough but doesn’t prevent it completely.

During this covid lockdown, we have been advised by our governing body to reduce routine vaccinations as much as possible, but we are hoping that in the next few weeks we may be able to start offering routine kennel cough vaccines again as lockdown starts to ease.

This vaccine is given intra-nasally via a spray. We recommend the vaccine to any dog going into kennels, a dog sitter or if your dog is elderly or at higher risk of catching kennel cough. Please be aware that if your dog currently has kennel cough symptoms, they will be unable to have the vaccination as it can make symptoms worse.

If you have any questions regarding this article, or are concerned about a cough that your dog may have, please do ring us at The Cape Veterinary Clinic on 01483 538990.

Catherine Hannah BVSc MRCVS



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