What if Kennel Cough Comes Back?

Close living quarters can hasten the spread of kennel cough.
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A highly contagious bacterial infection known as Bordetella, kennel cough has the potential to spread quickly between dogs, and according to PetMD, may require re-treatment and seclusion to stop it from coming back repeatedly.

How Kennel Cough Spreads

According to WebMD, dogs pass kennel cough between each other, and due to the weeklong incubation period, your dog can spread kennel cough before you know he has it. Relatively tight, confined or small spaces such as veterinary offices, boarding kennels and animal shelters are ideal breeding grounds for passing the disease around. Kennel cough is characterized by a hacking, wheezing cough that sounds like the dog is choking; the cough may continue for several weeks. If the cough goes away, but comes back, you dog likely was infected again by another sick dog or has a separate respiratory ailment.

Preventing Reoccurrence

You can reduce the likelihood of your dog getting kennel cough more than once by immunizing him. Once he’s had kennel cough, he’ll have an elevated immunity to it. If your dog has a weak immune system or seems to get sick easily, talk to your vet about the potential for using more frequent boosters to offer him a higher degree of protection. According to PetMD, the vaccine process should include not only the Bordetella agent, but parainfluenza and adenovirus vaccinations as well. This will help improve your pup’s immunity levels. Vaccinations can take a few weeks to be effective, so plan accordingly.

Treatment Options

According to WebMD, any type of persistent cough should be checked by your veterinarian immediately to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment -- dogs usually can be made more comfortable with a vet-prescribed cough suppresant. Some severe cases of kennel cough require additional medical intervention. Symptoms of kennel cough also can be linked to other respiratory disorders and even heart disease or tracheal collapse. A full health checkup is recommended if your pup develops kennel cough symptoms.

Other Protections

If you have a multiple-dog household, immunize all of them against kennel cough. If one shows signs of a recurrence, isolate him to minimize the potential for spreading the cough to other dogs. Both WebMD and PetMD recommend keeping your dog away from other canines known to be infected with kennel cough; avoid crowded living conditions when possible.