THE KENNEL COUGH MYTH
Kennel cough is a fairly common ailment in dogs. People tend to
associate it with dogs who are being or recently have been boarded (or
"kenneled"). But your dog need not be boarded to catch kennel cough.
Kennel cough is caused by an airborne virus,(parainfluenza) or a Bacteria
called Bordetella, which is highly contagious. The Bordetella bacteria resides
in almost every dog, however a good immune system keeps the bacteria under
control. A low immune system or stress, can trigger Bordetella to
take hold and results in infectious trachiobronchitis . Any time your dog is in
the vicinity of an infected dog, the potential exists for infection. The
incubation period is about 4-10 days, meaning your dog will not display
symptoms of illness for about 4-10 days following exposure to the virus. Having
a strong immune system is best way to avoid coming down with symptoms if/when
your dog is exposed to the virus. This is why not every dog in the kennel (or
house) will get it if there is an outbreak.
there is a vaccine (Bordetella) for Kennel Cough, it is often not effective in
preventing infection. The most likely explanation for
this is that there are many strains and mutations of the virus out there.
Therefore, it is hit or miss whether the vaccine used on your dog will be the
right one for the strain with which your dog comes into contact. This is
similar to the "flu shot" for people; each year a vaccine is
developed based on which strain(s) are suspected to be most prevalent. Be aware
that your dog can still catch Kennel Cough even if s/he has had a shot to
More commonly, an intranasal vaccine containing both parainfluenza
and Bordetella is used. Intranasal vaccines create localized immunity that greatly reduces the incidence of
clinical signs and illness. There are several precautions and warnings that
need to be observed pertaining to this vaccine. Some dogs will develop mild
signs similar to tracheobronchitis when given this vaccine. Very often, the
symptoms will last for several days and the dog will recover without treatment.
Dogs that are vaccinated can also shed the virus and cause other dogs to become
mildly infected and show mild signs. This shedding usually lasts less than 72
hours. In addition, it takes up to 4 days after vaccination for dogs to develop
protection. When you combine these facts, you will see why I strongly recommend
that a dog not be given intranasal vaccine within 72 hours of coming into
contact with other susceptible dogs. Do not give the vaccine the day before a
dog show, boarding, etc. Try to give at least four days before contact with
other dogs, and preferably 7 days. This way you will protect your dog from
becoming infected by other dogs, and protect those dogs from becoming infected
by yours. Our experience with this vaccine is that almost every dog that has
had this vaccine, when put in a boarding situation, develops kennel cough if
stressed. Adverse effects the intranasal vaccine can burden your pet with
are: Permanent Post nasal drip, Upper respiratory damage, and dogs with heart
problems, this vaccine can be fatal.
The usual symptoms of Kennel Cough include a dry,
"non-productive" cough. The dog sounds as if there is something stuck
or caught in the throat and the coughing is an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge
the object. Sometimes the coughing/gagging seems very violent. The episodes of
coughing may go on for minutes at a time and then be repeated at intervals. Of
course you will want to check your dog and make certain that there isn’t
anything actually stuck in the throat! One way you can "test" for
Kennel Cough is to press the throat gently, right in the collar area. If the
dog has Kennel Cough, this will probably trigger some coughing.
If your dog does develop Kennel Cough symptoms, don’t panic! The way
this illness operates is analogous to the common cold that we humans sometimes
catch; simply put: it must run its course. There is
no magic pill or cure, but there are many ways to treat and ease the symptoms.
The goal is to support the body (immune system) while it is healing itself. Antibiotics are NOT indicated (although
they are routinely prescribed and used) because this is a virus, not a bacteria.
Antibiotic use is actually thought to slow the healing process. Kennel cough
generally will be gone in two weeks time or less, with or without antibiotics
(but probably faster without).
'Kennel Cough,' now more commonly referred to as 'infectious tracheobronchitis'
is a widespread disease caused by several different viruses and bacteria. It is
usually a self-limiting disease and most animals do not require treatment.
Intranasal vaccines are effective, but due to some possible side effects, are
recommended for animals that are at higher risk. Infectious tracheobronchitis
is a disease of dogs and wild canids, it does not appear to be a risk to
healthy humans or cats.
Here are some ideas for natural treatments you may use to treat your dog’s
Kennel Cough symptoms. None of these will harm your dog in any way, even if
s/he does not have Kennel Cough, but you may want to check with your own vet
before giving them to your dog.
For boosting the immune system and fighting off infection:
500 mg Vitamin C 3x/day (250 mg for tiny dogs) (If you already supplement with
vitamin C, great! But this is in addition to the regular daily dose, and is
spaced out during the day.)
Echinacea (give a few drops, 3x/day, either directly into the mouth or on food)
Goldenseal (same instructions as Echinacea)
Colloidal Silver (Give just a drop or two, 3x/day. May be mixed with food or
put into drinking water.)
For directly combating the Kennel Cough
Bryonia (give 1-2 pellets/tablets 3x/day, allow no food for ten minutes before
and after the dose. Most health food stores sell homeopathic remedies in the 6X
or 6C potency, which is fine to use. If you have a choice of potencies, ask for
30C, which is a bit stronger. Homeopathy works when the correct remedy is
matched to the correct symptoms, regardless of the potency of the remedy.)
Drosera (same instructions)
For soothing throat irritation:
Honey (about a teaspoon for a small-med dog, a tablespoon for a larger dog,
Eliminate exposure to second hand smoke.
Maintain humidity in the environment.
If you have more than one dog in your household, and one of them develops
Kennel Cough, you can try to keep that one isolated, to minimize exposure to
your other dog(s). However, by the time your dog is symptomatic, the virus has
probably already been "shared" with your other pets or any other dogs
with which yours has had contact recently. You may wish to treat all of your
dogs, as a preventive measure for those that are asymptomatic, to ensure their
immune systems are strong enough to ward off infection from the virus. Also, it would be good pet ownership to
refrain from taking your ill dog to obedience class, dog shows, or any other
dog-related event until s/he has recovered
Source Credit for this article belongs to K9 Social Club Inc.