Any dog can get kennel cough, no matter how well you take care of your furry family member. Usually the bacterial infection is associated with kennels since it transmits easily in poorly ventilated indoor areas. While the sound of a hacking pooch is surely obnoxious, he should be able to recover without having major complications. Because the illness is so easy for your dog to catch, you should be aware of early symptoms so you can get him proper treatment early on.
Kennel cough is indeed a cough; the most obvious symptom is a loud, forceful, honking cough. It’s more persistent than little dry coughs or the reverse sneezes your dog may have on a regular basis. He may even cough up some foamy white-colored phlegm. Usually infected pups also sneeze, have a runny nose, develop a fever or have watery eyes. If your coughing comrade is really sick, he’ll probably lose his energy and his desire to eat, too. A trip to the vet is in order.
In more severe cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia. This condition leads to a surge of inflammation and fluid in your dog’s respiratory tract and lungs. Pneumonia can make it more difficult for him to breathe, cause a more intense wet cough and leave your pal completely listless. You’ll likely hear him wheezing or snoring as he sleeps. While pneumonia can be uncomfortable, it can be treated. Be sure to seek veterinary care at the first sign of trouble.
If not properly treated, pneumonia can lead to hypoxemia and sepsis. When hypoxemia sets in, your pup’s oxygen levels drop to dangerously low levels. This makes him lethargic and unable to go about his daily activities, as his cells aren't capable of doing their jobs. Sepsis causes toxic bacteria to form and travel through your pal’s bloodstream. These conditions lead to an increased risk of fatalities among canines, as inflammation and infection around vital organs develops.
Kennel Cough Treatment
If kennel cough is mild, your fuzzy chum might be able to recover on his own. But if you have other dogs in your house, or if your pal doesn’t seem to be getting better, your veterinarian may provide antibiotics. These prescription drugs shorten the duration of the illness, while helping to prevent secondary bugs, such as pneumonia. Your vet also might give him a short-term dose of steroids to minimize respiratory inflammation. If your comrade isn’t eating or drinking, he could need an overnight hospital stay to get intravenous fluids, in addition to oxygen therapy to replenish low oxygen levels. Always separate your sick pup from healthy dogs until he recovers, so the infection doesn’t circulate in your home.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.