Kennel Cough – What Is It and How Do You Protect Your Pooch?

You might have heard of a certain disease that is going around, spread easily in social situations, with symptoms including a persistent cough. No, it’s not Covid-19 – it’s kennel cough!

But just like Covid-19, it’s important to know the symptoms to look out for and the ways you can protect your dog from contracting and transmitting the disease.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious disease that affects a dog’s respiratory system. In many ways, it is the dog equivalent of a human cold or flu. The main symptom is a repetitive, harsh cough… it sounds a bit like a goose honking! Other symptoms can include gagging or vomiting when excited or after food, sneezing and snorting and a runny nose or goopy eyes, and sometimes fever and a lack of energy.

In most cases, symptoms will resolve themselves over a week or so. But, like colds and flu in humans, dogs with poor immune systems – such as young puppies or older dogs – have an increased risk of complications. They can sometimes develop secondary bacterial infections or even pneumonia.

How do dogs catch kennel cough?

Kennel cough is highly contagious and easily spread through the canine community. It is most likely to occur in places where dogs congregate in groups, but because the organisms that are responsible for the disease are spread through the air, some dogs will get the infection even without leaving their own backyards! At Darlo Dogs, we are always cleaning to keep surfaces and toys safe and we also look out for any symptoms with our charges. But when kennel cough is prevalent in a community it’s not always possible to prevent the spread.

How do I stop my dog from catching kennel cough?

The good news is that you can vaccinate your furry family member for kennel cough. However, just like the flu shot with humans, the vaccine doesn’t cover every strain and even if your dog’s vaccinations are up to date you may still find they pick up the disease.

Whilst avoiding shared water bowls and limiting interactions with other dogs are great for prevention, just like in humans, sometimes catching a ‘cold’ is unavoidable. Making sure your dog has a strong immune system, through good food and exercise, may help them to avoid getting sick or recover sooner. What do I do if I suspect my dog has kennel cough?

If you notice your fur baby has started coughing when over excited or after going out in the cold air, or they’re making noises like they’re trying to clear their throat, we recommend taking them to see the vet. They can confirm for sure if your dog has kennel cough and prescribe treatment for the symptoms if needed.

You should also keep your pup isolated for approximately 7-10 days, so that they don’t spread the infection to others. If your dog has been to daycare or had contact with other dogs while they were showing symptoms, you may also wish to notify those people about the diagnoses, so they can keep an eye out for symptoms too.

Finally, although your dog will have developed some antibodies from their bout of kennel cough, it is still possible for them to catch it again. Giving them a yearly booster vaccination (just like the flu shot for humans) is definitely recommended.

We take our responsibility as your dog’s carer very seriously. All dogs must be fully vaccinated before they are welcomed into Darlo Dogs and if we do notice any signs that your dog may be unwell we will let you know immediately.