Is your dog coming down with a smokers cough?
Does he have low energy? Is he making weird and painful sounds?
No; he’s not possessed. But he might have kennel cough!
“But my Jake’s never even been to a kennel! No way he has this.”
Unfortunately, kennel cough is super contagious. If good ol’ Jake has spent any time around dogs who have been kenneled, he could have picked it up from them.
Here’s everything you need to know about what basically amounts to the doggy flu. Achoo!
Yuck! What IS kennel cough?
Also known as Canine cough, kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection, caused by both bacteria AND virus. It affects the lungs, windpipe, and voice box.
When it’s purely bacterial, symptoms normally last for only 10 days. However, the animal remains contagious for 6-14 weeks. No dog park for him!
Most cases are caused by a combination of both the bacteria and the virus. The virus attacks the cells in the respiratory tract, and could potentially harm the trachea. It’s no joke, either — it’s potentially fatal in older dogs, or those with pre-existing conditions.
How can I tell if it’s kennel cough?
Kennel cough is commonly contracted from playing or socializing with other dogs. (It’s possible for a dog to carry the disease without showing any symptoms.)
Below are some of the common symptoms. If your dog has every symptom, kennel cough is likely the culprit.
- Stuck in throat, gagging sound
- Low energy
- Little to no eating
If your dog is making gagging sounds (like something’s stuck in his throat), try offering him a treat. If something’s actually stuck, he won’t be interested in the treat.
If he takes the treat, he’s probably making that noise ‘cause his throat hurts.
If your dog hasn’t eaten or refuses to eat in a 24-hour period, take him to the vet immediately.
How can I treat this thing?
- Isolate your dog so he doesn’t spread the cough others.
- Be sure he gets plenty of rest to fight the infection. That means no walks, even for bathroom breaks. Make sure he gets plenty of sleep on a comfortable dog bed. If you have to bring him outside, be sure he’s wearing a comfortable coat.
- Take your dog to the vet!! Even if you’re not sure it’s kennel cough (especially if you’re not sure), better safe than sorry. Get him treated ASAP.
- Clarify if he needs antibiotics. Antibiotics will assist your dog in overcoming the bacteria; but if he has the virus, he’ll need to fight it on his own. Your vet can determine this for you.
- Have your dog inhale steam or warm water vapor. This will alleviate some of the pain in his lungs and throat. A common method is to stay in the bathroom with him for 5-10 minutes, with shower running on its hottest setting. Obvious disclaimer: don’t leave him in there alone!
- Don’t use medicine to suppress his cough completely, unless he can’t sleep. He needs to cough to get the mucus out of his stomach. (I know; gross. It’s just like a kid.) You can give him some Children’s Robitussin DM though: one teaspoon for every 20 lbs, once every 24 hours (unless otherwise advised). Never give other medications without consulting your vet first.
- Honey and lemon before bed. (A.K.A. my mom’s secret recipe.) Mix one tablespoon of honey and one teaspoon of lemon juice in 8 ounces of warm water. This will soothe some of the pain and lessen the frequency of his cough.
- Ask your vet for doggy Vitamin C pills. This will boost your dog’s immune system over time and help him beat the cough sooner.
- Consider a vaccination once the recovery is complete. If your dog often mixes with others at the park, is getting on in years, or has other preexisting health conditions, this is a smart call.
When you start noticing an increased appetite, more energy, and decreased coughing, you’re on the road to recovery. Yay!
Your buddy might some need new coats, leashes, toys and treats. And not just because he was sick and you want to pamper him (although, that too) — kennel cough can be spread through contact. (It’s usually airborne, but you can never be too safe.)
So. Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer from colds. It’s just a lot easier for us to get over them.
Now if only someone would buy us new toys!