Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is a broad term that encapsulates any infectious or contagious condition among canines, explained Ernest Ward, DVM, of VCA , an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada.
The major clinical symptom is coughing and the infection is located in the dog’s trachea or “windpipe,” as well as the bronchial tubes. Several viruses and bacteria such as canine coronavirus and adenovirus type-2 can cause kennel cough, which occur simultaneously. The infection spreads when pet dogs are housed together and is usually observed after they have been in kennels. This explains why the disease is called kennel cough. Since it is caused by a number of pathogens, kennel cough is also called as canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC).
Research Sheds Light Into CIRD Pathogens (2019)
Grazieli Maboni and colleagues of biomedical and life sciences journal portal PMC found that M. canis (23.6%) and M. cynos (24.5%) were the most commonly detected pathogens. These were followed by influenza A (11.2%), B. bronchiseptica (9%, 51/559), CoV (4.6%), CAV (2.5%) and CDV (2%). There was no significant difference in the detection rate of pathogens except for B. bronchiseptica, which was more common during the cold season (16.85%) than the warm season (7.33%).
CAV was more prevalent during the cold season (4.5%) than the warm season (1.7%). CDV was shown to be prevalent during the warm season (2.4%). On the other hand, CoV was more prevalent during the cold season (9%) than the warm season (4%). Influenza had a prevalence rate of 13.3% during the warm season (versus 4.5% during the cold season).
Other disease pathogens that were more prevalent during the warm season were M. Canis (26.3% versus 15.3% during the cold season), M. cynos (27.4% versus 7.7%). However, CPIV was more prevalent during the cold season (38.4%) than the warm season (25.2%). There was also no significant association of CIRD pathogens with sex except for B. bronchiseptica, which was found more in female dogs (12.4%) than male (5.2%). CoV was more prevalent in adult dogs (9.24%) than in other age groups. Influenza A virus was less prevalent in puppies (4.43%) than their older counterparts.
The authors concluded that their research provided new insights into understanding the rate of detection of CIRD pathogens in the US, as well as the role of co-infections in disease severity. This highlighted the critical role of PCR panels for fast diagnostics. Since younger dogs and those with a higher number of co-infections were more at risk of developing severe clinical signs, the authors recommended CIRD vaccination as early as possible.
HR Sowman, NJ Cave, and M. Dunowska of peer-reviewed journal portal Taylor & Francis Online said they collected coagulated blood samples for serology and oropharyngeal swabs for virology from 47 healthy and dogs and from 40 dogs with acute respiratory diseases. They also collected a convalescent blood sample from diseased dogs three to four weeks later.
Canine Respiratory Pathogens Among New Zealand Dogs (2018)
21% of dogs were positive for at least one agent tested, including 28% of diseased and 15% of healthy dogs. Diseases dogs were commonly positive for M. cynos (17%), CPIV (6%), and B. bronchiseptica (6%). Meanwhile, healthy dogs were commonly positive for CAdV-2 (13%) and M. cynos (4%). A total of 33% of healthy dogs (26% of pet dogs and 37% of farm dogs) were tested positive in an ELISA for canine respiratory coronavirus antibody than 68% of diseased dogs (63% of acute greyhounds, 76% of convalescent greyhounds, 60% of acute pet dogs, and 100% of convalescent pet dogs).
According to the authors, the data suggested that further investigation into the epidemiology of CRVoV and M. cynos has to be done to identify the extent of the involvement in ICT (infectious canine tracheobronchitis). The possibility of other respiratory pathogens that circulate in dogs in New Zealand should be tackled in further studies.
How Does My Dog Get Kennel Cough?
It is highly contagious and dogs can transmit it via casual contact such as playing, sharing water dishes, and sniffing each other during walks. However, other factors that can increase a dog’s likelihood of developing kennel cough include cold temperatures, crowded conditions, stress, and exposure to dust or smoke.
What Are the Signs of Kennel Cough?
Coughing may be chronic and can last for several weeks in some cases. Aside from coughing, other symptoms of kennel cough include a loud cough that sounds like a “goose honk,” runny eyes and nose, wheezing, poor appetite, swollen tonsils, and depressed behavior. Most dogs with this condition will cough when their throat is rubbed or palpated during and after exercise. After your dog has been infected, the hacking cough caused by the disease will persist for several weeks.
How Is Kennel Cough Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will study your dog’s history of coughing, said Ned F. Kuehn, DVM, MS, DACVIM, of MSD Veterinary Manual, a source animal health information for students and practicing veterinarians. They will also conduct a physical examination that will rule out other causes of coughing. Tools can range from chest x-rays to biopsy and swab samples for laboratory analysis.
Bronchial washing is also another diagnostic method that may be done to show the agent causing the disease such as a parasite or your dog’s response to disease. These tests may be done if your veterinarian’s initial treatment is not effecting in alleviating your pet’s condition.
How Is Kennel Cough Treated and Prevented?
For viral infections, there is no specific treatment but many of the more severe symptoms of kennel cough are caused by bacterial involvement, particularly Bordetella bronchiseptica. Antibiotics are effective against it. However, some cases of kennel cough require prolonged treatment. Mild clinical signs may be present in your dog for several bacteria even after the bacteria have been eliminated.
In some cases, cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful in providing relief. Overall, your veterinarian will help you identify which methods of treatments best suit your pet canine. Vaccination is a great way to prevent kennel cough. Your vet will mostly recommend having your dog vaccinated against adenovirus and parainfluenza. Meanwhile, Bordetella is strongly recommended for those that are boarded, groomed, or interact with other canines in areas like dog parks. With regard to the effectiveness of these vaccines, you cannot expect vaccination programs to do much better.
Do note that immunity is neither solid nor long-lasting despite your dog experiencing a natural infection. Since immunity depends on certain factors, it is best to consult your vet for specific vaccination recommendations. Some veterinarians recommend a booster vaccine every six months to protect your dog from kennel cough and some kennel facilities require a booster vaccination before boarding. Good nutrition and hygiene and improvement of your dog’s living conditions are also recommended to hasten its recovery.
Kennel cough is a contagious disease and can be due to exposure to dust, crowded conditions, and more. Vaccines provide an extra layer of protection against CIRD pathogens that cause kennel cough. However, it is also important for owners to improve their dog’s living environment and practice good hygiene.