Kennel cough (KC) is also called tracheobronchitis OR canine infectious upper respiratory COMPLEX. It is referred to as a COMPLEX because it is a multi pathogen disease that can be caused by more than one bug! Most commonly it is caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacteria) and/or canine parainfluenza virus. But, it can also be caused by canine adenovirus, canine herpesvirus, canine pneumovirus, Mycoplasma spp. (bacteria), Streptococcus spp. (Bacteria), canine respiratory coronavirus (this is different then COVID19 - we will come back to this one later this week).
HOW IS IT TRANSFERRED?
Depending on the infectious agent, transmission occurs through direct contact, respiratory moistness (droplets), on fomites (bowls, toys, etc.), or oral/fecal route
WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL SIGNS?
Recent exposure to an unfamiliar group of dogs (groomers, kennel, dog park, etc.)
Cough/sneezing +/- retching that may be misinterpreted as vomiting
Clear (serous) to mucoid discharge from nose and eyes
Lethargy, inappetence, depression
+/- red eyes (conjunctivitis)
+/- signs of pneumonia
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Just like in people with the common cold, often KC does not need treatment. Most of the time, dogs will recover on their own
If uncomplicated (no pneumonia, severe/secondary infection), we treat with a cough suppressant and supportive care
If severe/secondary infection (inappetence, severe congestion, mucoid discharge, pneumonia, etc), then antibiotics are added
HOW LONG IS IT CONTAGIOUS?
The cough will typically last 7-14 days but animals typically shed BEFORE the clinical signs are apparent. Once the cough starts, shedding typically last 7 days BUT it is variable with each infective agent. SO IF YOUR PET HAS KC, I recommend that your dog stays in isolation for other pets for ~3weeks to be safe
CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
Yes AND no
REMEMBER, KC is a syndrome and NOT a specific disease. It is caused by more than one pathogen. There are vaccines for some of the pathogens that reduce the risk of contracting and the severity of kennel cough (Bordetella, parainfluenza, influenza, adenovirus, distemper). The typical KC vaccine vaccinates against Bordetella and the others are usually included in your core vaccines. But, we do not have vaccines for all of the potential pathogens
With VACCINATIONS, make sure the vaccine has been done at least 3-15 days prior to exposure to high risk area (period of time depends on route of vaccination). This ensures your pets immunity has had time to ramp up!
LIMIT EXPOSURE to other dogs, in high density areas (kennels, shelters, dog parks) especially when an outbreak is happening
MY PET HAS KC, WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Let your pet rest. This is not the time to go on a lengthy jog and extensive walk
Make sure your pet isn’t having difficulties breathing. If noted, contact a vet
Humidity can help break up the congestion. You can allow your pet to lay on the bathroom floor while you take a shower to help ease the congestion
Often the ‘puking’ is actually coughing up clear or mucoid phlegm. It is common to see with KC. It is not concerning unless it is interfering with your pets rest.
Monitor for worsening clinical signs and call your vet if noted: inappetence, trouble breathing, marked depression, if symptoms are getting worse tater than better, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Stay tuned for tomorrow!! I want to talk more about the respiratory coronavirus in dogs.