Kennel Cough in Puppies

Diagnosing and Treating Kennel Cough in Puppies

Kennel cough is a type of respiratory disease that may occur in puppies and older dogs that live in close quarters. This infection of the tracheas and bronchial tubes can be life threatening to puppies. Typically a dog will be vaccinated with bordetella bronchiseptica which is designed to prevent kennel cough in puppies. The vaccine is needed yearly and most kennels will not allow a dog to be boarded without it.

There are several signs and symptoms that pet owners should be aware of to help detect kennel cough in puppies early on. The first is an abrasive cough. Puppies will exhibit a “honking” cough that is dry and produces no sputum. The coughing attacks will be frequent and persistent. At the end of the coughing attacks, it is likely that the puppy will experience some retching. This is when foamy mucus is expelled from the throat in small amounts. After that, the puppy will likely feel playful and energetic.

Nasal congestion in puppies is another indication of kennel cough. Typically this will involve a nasal discharge that is thick and yellow colored. In many scenarios, kennel cough in puppies will resolve itself within a few weeks. However, if it is left untreated it is likely that the puppy will develop additional respiratory infections. It is important to contact a veterinarian if your puppy becomes listless, has a fever or develops lack of appetite. Furthermore, it is possible for a puppy to develop pneumonia if kennel cough is not treated.

Based on your description of your puppy’s behavior, a vet will be able to pre-determine that it has kennel cough. Next a physical examination will be performed to determine if there is an infection present. Medication is typically prescribed to help thin the mucus secretions so that your puppy will be able to breathe better. If your dog is regularly in contact with other puppies then it will be important to keep him isolated until he is healthy and to avoid exposing other dogs to the virus.

As a pet owner you can plan an additional role in helping your puppy heal faster by running a humidifier nearby the sleeping space. This will keep the air moist and allow the cough to work its way out of the body. Just like humans, persistent coughing and hacking can lead to a sore throat. Your puppy may whine with pain. You can help ease the pain by dissolving honey in his drinking water. Honey offers natural soothing properties.

Kennel cough in puppies in contagious for up to 14 weeks. It is important that your puppy be isolated from other animals including cats, small animals and dogs. This bacterial virus can spread to other species of animals causing them to also be sick. It is likely that your puppy will want extra attention as part of their soothing while recovering. Puppies are very similar to babies in that they tend to respond better to treatment and healing when they are able to cuddle next to a warm body.