Kennel Cough
(Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis)

Causative Agent: There are several microorganisms that are frequently the problem in dogs with kennel cough. Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV) are two of the most common. Other bacteria are commonly involved later on in the disease process and can cause additional problems. Severe stress caused by poor diet, other diseases, and environmental extremes increases susceptibility and then perpetuates the problem.

Clinical Signs: The most common sign is a dry "goose honk" cough, often followed by gagging or retching. It is usually easy to get the dog to cough by handling the throat and trachea regions. As the infection worsens, the dog may refrain from eating, have a fever, and produce some nasal discharge. Clinical signs often occur 5-10 days after exposure and may last for 10-20 days.

Disease Transmission: These organisms are highly contagious and are spread by direct contact between infected and non-infected animals. This occurs through direct "nose-to-nose" contact or through contaminated hands, dishes, or other equipment. Infections often are associated with animals in a kennel situation or other environment where many dogs are in close contact with each other. See the picture on page F102 for an example of a proper kennel.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis of this disease is often obtained from past history and clinical signs. A definitive (precise) diagnosis can be obtained from culture and sensitivity or virus isolation; however, these procedures are not usually performed.

Treatment: Many times the disease is not severe and will naturally run its course without extensive medical attention. However, careful attention must be paid to correct any environmental or nutritional problems. In some cases, antibiotics, cough suppressants, and anti-inflammatory agents may be required. Often it is necessary to treat the animal for 3-4 weeks with antibiotics before the problem is solved.

Prevention: This problem can often be prevented by administering vaccines for parainfluenza, canine distemper, and Bordetella on an annual basis. In situations where a dog may have a greater risk of exposure to Bordetella bronchiseptica, it is recommended that an intranasal vaccine be given. These intranasal vaccines have the tendency to be short lived in their effectiveness and should be given 14 days prior to any potential infectious event.

Public Health Concerns: Human bordetellosis may occur after exposure to an animal harboring the bacteria, with most infections occurring in the very young, the very old, and immunocompromised individuals.