Kennel cough is a bacterial infection spread primarily through the bacterial infection bordetella. A contagious disorder, kennel cough gets its name because of its ease of spreading in locations like kennels and shelters -- anywhere multiple dogs are housed together. The disorder in itself is typically not life-threatening unless complications arise; mild cases don't often require medical intervention.
The best way to prevent the spread of kennel cough in your home is to ensure all of your dogs are vaccinated against the disorder. This is vital if you regularly board your dogs, take them to dog parks or allow them to interact freely with other canines. If one dog has a lengthy stay in a vet’s office or boarding facility, he has the potential to bring the kennel cough home. Prevention via vaccination is the most effective means of keeping Bordetella from becoming a problem in your household.
The incubation period for kennel cough is approximately three to five days, so it can quickly spread to all of the dogs in your household before you recognize that a single dog has contracted it. Kennel cough presents itself with a wheezing, almost choking sound; it may appear your dog has something caught in his throat. A trip to the vet will help you rule out any airway obstruction or potential problems, like a tracheal collapse, and diagnose the problem.
If you suspect that one of your dogs has kennel cough, isolate him from the other dogs in your home as well as possible. Separate your dog into a room or area of the house where he doesn't have physical contact with other household pets. Limit the people who come in contact with him for feeding, walking and interacting, and use an antibacterial cleaning agent on your hands after being with the infected dog. Clean and disinfect any surfaces the dogs shared before the kennel cough appeared.
Your vet may prescribe canine cough medications or antibiotics to combat the infection. Kennel cough typically resolves on its own within a short period of time. A severe case left untreated has the potential to lead to pneumonia and other respiratory disorders. Any instance of kennel cough should be evaluated by a veterinary medical professional to ensure your dog is getting the most appropriate type of treatment.