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All about kennel cough

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Kennel cough, a form of Tracheobronchitis, is a combination of parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. This is highly contagious to canines and spreads quickly in a kennel, an environment which is how it got its nickname. This is a species specific disease which means that only canines can contract it. Kennel cough spreads from dog to dog through respiratory secretions and can be infectious up to 20 days after symptoms end.
Despite the name, kennels are not the only environment that a dog can contract this illness. Dog parks, dog daycare and of course animal shelters offer close quarters where dogs are able to get nose to nose with this infection. As long as a kennel is kept clean and sanitized the spread of kennel cough can be kept down, but the owner has a job to do as well.
First of all a dog that has kennel cough should never be brought around other dogs. A dog should be given a Bordetella vaccine every 6 months to a year, especially if regularly around other dogs outside the home. If a dog that has not been previously vaccinated is going to be kenneled they should receive the vaccine at least 5 days before entering the kennel. Like the flu vaccine in humans the Bordetella vaccine is not 100% effective.
If a dog contracts kennel cough, symptoms will present themselves in 3 to 4 days. Symptoms of kennel cough include a cough which can be described as dry or hacking, gagging, sneezing and even vomiting. If a dog is suspected of having kennel cough it should immediately be taken in to see a veterinarian for treatment, severe cases that are not treated can turn into pneumonia. Call the veterinarian office prior to heading over because each office will have its own protocol in order to limit exposure to other canines. Normal treatment for kennel cough consists of an antibiotic and a cough suppressant.
Kennel cough is very common. It is not hard to treat, but in order to keep it from spreading a dog that has been diagnosed should be kept separate from other dogs for at least 20 days after the symptoms have dissipated. When kenneling a dog make sure that the environment is cleaned regularly and always keep the Bordetella vaccine and all other vaccines current.

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