Kennel Cough

A sound you'll never forget

Persistent, ‘honking’, retching, horribly unpleasant...Kennel cough can last for weeks, and can prove fatal in susceptible individuals.

 

It’s also the most widespread infectious disease of dogs in Britain today. And of the 65,000 dogs who were diagnosed with the condition last  year¹ , most had picked it up in parks, streets, classes, shows...in fact, all sorts of situations that had nothing whatsoever to do with kennels².


Is kennel cough a risk in my area?

Since 2008, UK vets have been sharing data to monitor the incidence and outbreaks of pet disease in the UK. It’s called the CICADA Survey, and you can see all its findings here.

This map from the survey shows the most recent data on Kennel Cough. As you can see, it remains widespread throughout the country.

Kennel cough


So is my dog protected against kennel cough?

Protection against kennel cough is NOT NORMALLY included in your pet’s routine annual vaccinations.

However, it can be added relatively easily - just a small drop of liquid applied to one nostril. This simple ‘intranasal’ vaccine only takes only seconds to administer, and yet it will protect your dog for at least a year.


And you don’t just catch it in kennels

Despite the name, most cases are NOT caught in kennels. On the contrary, your pet is more likely to encounter the disease in common circumstances such as:

  • The park
  • The street
  • At dog shows
  • In training classes
  • From next door’s pet...

What is kennel cough and what are the clinical signs?

Kennel cough – also known as infectious bronchitis – is a complex respiratory infection, caused mainly by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica and the Parainfluenza virus.

Once your dog has been exposed to infection, it will generally take 5-7 days before signs of disease are seen. Kennel cough usually causes a dry, hacking cough, runny nose and sometimes sneezing. The gagging cough and retching associated with this disease are upsetting for your dog and you.

Depending on its severity, the signs of infection can last from a few days to several weeks. However, even after the coughing has stopped your dog can remain infectious for up to three months.


If my dog catches kennel cough, can I treat it?

Unfortunately, by the time your dog has started coughing, the disease will already have damaged its respiratory system.

Therapies such as anti-inflammatory drugs and cough suppressants are often only minimally effective and should only be used under strict veterinary supervision.

Kennel cough is caused by both bacteria and viruses, so antibiotics can sometimes help reduce disease severity. Often, though, they have little impact on symptoms.

As with any serious disease, prevention is always better than cure. Effective intranasal vaccines are available against the most significant causes and can be administered routinely alongside your pet’s normal annual boosters.


Further reading

Want to know more about kennel cough? Try these sites here:

Kennel Cough from The Pet Health Library >>

Merck Veterinary Manual Entry on Kennel Cough >>

Kennel Cough >>

  1. Estimate based on 2009 CICADA UK Survey of pet diseases. Based on disease reported for the 9 months to Nov 2010.
  2. Telephone survey of UK vets, November 2009. Kennel cough is a complex with multiple causative factors. Vaccination against kennel cough can confer immunity against the most important pathogens, Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus.