Coughing Dogs in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines Vet Discusses Kennel Cough
By Dr. Alex Miller

Des Moines VetRecently, Des Moines vets have seen some patients come in with a harsh, hacking cough. This cough is sometimes characterized as a “honking” cough by some pet parents. While symptoms like this can be caused by more severe issues, many of the cases that we have seen have been due to the Kennel Cough Complex. There are vaccines, including Bordetella, available for several causes of Kennel Cough (or Infectious Tracheobronchitis) but there may be some strains of this highly contagious cough that are not covered by the vaccines.

Important Points

  • Dogs often present with a dry, hacking, honking cough.
  • The time between infection and clinical signs can be between 2 and 14 days.
  • Infection is spread by nose-to-nose contact between infected and uninfected dogs.
  • Infections may be self-limiting, but cough suppressants and antibiotics can be used to make the dog feel more comfortable and shorten the duration.
  • Limit contact with other dogs when infection is suspected.

Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis) is a disease complex-meaning it can be caused by one or more different organisms concurrently, including bacteria and viruses. These organisms are shed through the respiratory secretions from an infected dog. Therefore, they are very easily spread between dogs in situations with close contact such as boarding, day care, and dog parks. When a dog breathes in one of these organisms they take up residence in the trachea (windpipe) where they multiply and cause irritation in the trachea which causes the coughing.

It is important to note that the patient may be infected for 2-14 days before clinical signs show up. Additionally, dogs which are infected with Bordetella can shed the bacteria for as long as 3 months after the infection is cleared.

The diagnosis of Kennel Cough is most commonly made from the history, and your Des Moines vet can often elicit a cough while palpating the trachea. Treatment for this most commonly involves starting a cough suppressant to help make the dog feel more comfortable. Additionally, an antibiotic may also be started to help the body fight off the infection.

If your dog has been or will be around other dogs and has or will be in these areas, it is important to check if your dog is current on vaccinations-especially Bordetella-to protect your dog as much as possible.

As always, if you are seeing any of these clinical signs, or your pet seems “off”, please do not hesitate to see your Des Moines vet or the Healthcare Team at Ingersoll Animal Hospital for a thorough wellness examination.