Should I get my dog vaccinated against Kennel Cough, even if not staying in kennels?

Kennel CoughIn short; yes, it’s worth considering. The name ‘Kennel Cough’ implies that your dog should only require inoculation if they are going to be visiting a kennel in the near future. This simply isn’t the case. Kennel cough can be a great hindrance for any dog and, in the worst cases, can result in some pretty severe symptoms.

So, what is it and which dogs are at risk?

The technical term is ‘Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis’, which translates to ‘inflammation of the trachea (the pathway to the lungs) and bronchi’ (branches of the trachea that lead into the lungs). It’s worth knowing that there are different strains and causes, some viral, some bacterial, which is why prevention is so crucial for this ailment.

Young puppies, geriatric dogs, pregnant bitches and dogs with pre-existing respiratory problems in particular are at higher risk of catching Kennel Cough due to their vulnerable immune systems, but in theory all dogs are at risk of infection.

 What are the symptoms and causes?

As the name suggests, a cough is the most obvious symptom. It is a persistent type of cough that can cause retching and sometimes lead to vomiting. You may notice some discharge seeping from your pet’s nose and eyes.

Less commonly there can be more severe problems: your dog may go off their food, become less active than usual and have a high temperature. Furthermore, Kennel Cough can sometimes cause pneumonia, so if you suspect Kennel Cough, your dog needs to be checked by us as soon as you can.

Kennel cough is extremely contagious and can be spread between dogs very easily. The infected particles can be passed by nose to nose contact or spread through the air when an infected dog coughs; if another dog inhales these particles it will contract the disease.

The phrase ’Kennel Cough’ was adopted as it is common in kennels for large groups of dogs to pass the disease between each other rapidly. Other high-risk environments include dog shows and some breeding establishments. For this reason, if your dog has suspected Kennel Cough, we might ask you to stay outside of the practice until your appointment to reduce contamination!

Treatment

In milder cases the vets at Lamond may advise that simple rest and hydration are all that is needed to get your dog back to health. They will also advise a suitable isolation period whereby they shouldn’t mingle with other dogs. In the cases where unwanted bacteria are present antibiotics might be prescribed. Alternatively, an anti-inflammatory drug could be given to reduce the swelling and pain in the respiratory tract.

Tests are sometimes offered to determine the root cause so that conclusive treatment can be provided.

 Is the vaccination worthwhile?

Kennel cough is a very unnecessary infection that can be avoided in most instances and prevention really is the most reliable option to stop it in its tracks. Whilst it does not offer 100% guaranteed immunity (because of the variable factors and types of the infection) it will significantly reduce the effects of Kennel Cough if it is picked up. If your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough as well as the usual annual booster jabs, the risk is low as you are allowing immunity to be built up against all sorts of illnesses, making him or her ready to combat an array of germs they come into contact with.

The vaccination is cleverly designed – it is administered up the nose and follows the direct path of infection, coating the mucous lining of the nasal area and respiratory tract so that specific, local resistance is in place. It is a pain free method, but your pooch may be a tad disgruntled and possibly sneeze afterwards – a small price to pay for such an effective remedy!

If you haven’t got Kennel Cough cover for your dog yet, please do book an appointment with us to discuss this further. As responsible dog owners we have a duty of care for our pets, and for others, and this preventative measure will reduce the unwelcome presence of a nuisance disease.

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