The truth about Kennel Cough

As we head towards the peak of the holiday season, there’s a surge in the number of dogs that are brought to see me for a procedure that sounds simple, but can be incredibly complicated: Kennel Cough vaccination.

Although this is recommended for all dogs that come into close contact with other dogs (e.g. even just meeting other dogs on walks regularly), it’s absolutely essential if a dog is going to boarding kennels. For many dog owners, part of the annual pre-holiday routine involves taking the dog up to the vet for its pre-boarding Kennel Cough vaccination.

What causes Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a highly infectious upper respiratory infection caused by a combination of two factors:

First, a primary irritant of the throat: this can be a virus (eg parainfluenza) or it can be a direct irritation (eg a dog barking a lot can be enough to cause this). It’s usually such a minor irritation that owners don’t notice it, but it’s enough to allow stage two to move in.

Second, once the surface defences have been broached by the primary irritation, the “Kennel Cough bug” (Bordetella Bronchiseptica”) moves in, causing a very serious infection that can cause serious coughing that lasts for over a month without treatment. Antibiotics usually fix the infection but it is better for it to be avoided, so that’s why Kennel Cough vaccination is given.

Both parainfluenza virus and Bordetella Bronchiseptica spread very easily from dog to dog via microscopic particles in aerosols generated by coughing This is why it spreads so fast in kennels, where there may be shared air space.

You can see why it’s preferable to have dogs protected against Kennel Cough by vaccination.

In addition to talking about Kennel Cough, on this week’s Pat Kenny Show I answered questions  about a rabbit shedding hair and a young boxer who has constant diarrhoea, as well as whether onions are dangerous for dogs.

Listen to the podcast:

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