Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The virus responsible for this infection is the Parainfluenza virus. The bacteria responsible is known as Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Another name given to this infection is Bordetella, named after the bacteria itself.
The first sign of this respiratory infection will be coughing or other sounds that may be likened to the sound that accompanies choking. Of course this is not pleasant; the same way it would be unpleasant for a human with a respiratory condition.
This infection is not solely applicable to canines; cats can also contract Kennel Cough, or Bordetella. However, Feline Bordetella is more often than not spread from feline to feline as opposed to from canines to felines.
The Causes Of Kennel Cough
This infection’s name suggests that it is easily transmitted from a carrier to those in close proximity; perhaps living in the same kennels. Touching and close interaction is the main way in which this bacterium spreads. But it can also be airborne, meaning that as a carrier coughs or exhales the virus can leave them and be airborne for a while, and then picked up or inhaled by another ‘soon-to-be’ host.
In dogs, as the bacteria is inhaled it finds itself trapped in the mucus that lines the respiratory tract. If the dog is already experiencing mild infections of another sort such as Canine Adenovirus, Canine Distemper or Canine Herpes, for example, their chances of being seriously affected by the Bordetella virus are higher. The bacteria trapped in the respiratory tract then leads to inflammation of the larynx and the trachea, hence breathing becomes difficult and sounds made become distorted.
In the same way we as humans can contract the Influenza virus after spending the morning in a poorly ventilated shopping center, so dogs (and cats) can contract the Bordetella virus simply by being in close proximity to an infected host.
It has been said that in some milder cases the infection could run its course and go away on its own. However, without correct diagnosis - how is the layman to know the level or severity of the infection? If we feel we are struggling to breathe, in most cases we will pay a visit to out general practitioner for advice and perhaps treatment. It’s only fair to do the same for our pets.
Kennel Cough Symptoms In Dogs
Dogs with Bordetella will at first display the more obvious symptoms like a nagging cough. Of course this could be mistaken for a simple irritation in the throat. Other symptoms include a runny nose, a discharge from the eyes, gagging or vomiting (usually white foamy phlegm) and the presence of snorting sounds. The incubation period of this infection is 3 to 4 days. It can last for as long as 2 weeks in some cases, and if during that time the dog is exposed to any form of stress, the immune system will weaken which will lead to further complications.
The Symptoms Of Feline Bordetella
We know that the Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria can affect cats as well. However, diagnosing Bordetella in cats can be tricky because the bacteria often render the same signs or symptoms as other infections do. For example, Bordetella could present similar symptoms to those that would be seen should the cat be carrying the Feline Herpes Virus - 1, the Feline Calicivirus Infection or the Chlamydophila Felis Infection. Obviously correct medication needs to be given according to the type of virus, which is why a diagnosis by a professional is so important.
The Treatment Of Kennel Cough
Whether apparent in cats or dogs, the affected animal will need to be separated from other animals in close vicinity as the bacteria will spread the first chance it gets. As mentioned, because of the nature of this infection it can be difficult for the layman to determine whether or not the pet actually has Bordetella. For example, the cat may just have hairballs, or the dog may just have an irritated throat from chewing a stuffed toy!
Remember that respiratory infections can be dangerous; in severe cases the respiratory tract can become blocked which could lead to uneasy breathing and perhaps, in a worst case scenario, suffocation.
Therefore, if you assume your pet has a respiratory problem and that it may be Kennel Cough, according the symptoms mentioned above, please consult with your vet immediately. Your vet will be able to make a correct diagnosis and therefore administer the correct treatment.