Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is a condition which can affect dogs not only when they go into Kennels.

Kennel Cough is an airborne virus.  Taking between 5 and 8 days to incubate from the point of contact with a contagious dog.  As it is airborne there is some speculation as to how long it may stay hanging around for, if an infected dog is walked.

The virus works by paralysing the fine hairs that help keep the airways clean.  The fine hairs work by moving any dust particles out of the nose, whereas with kennel cough this is unable to happen.

A dog will stay contagious until at least five days after the last cough has been heard.  So as soon as you know your dog has kennel cough it will mean your dog will be confined to your house and garden.  The contagious period could be longer, again there is some speculation from some that the dog can remain infectious for ten weeks!  So my recommendation is to check with your vet for advice on when you can start walking your dog again.

First Stage
The condition starts with a cough that sounds a little like your dog is clearing his/her throat or trying to cough up something that might be stuck in its throat.

Second Stage
This then progresses to bringing up phlegm.  The dog may well cough so hard that he or she vomits up food.  Monitor your dog closely at this point.  As the first 24 hours of bringing up phlegm could knock your dog for six.  After the first 24hour period the phlegm does reduce in quantity (to a more manageable amount to clean up!).  The dogs cough will have developed into a “HONK” cough.  It is unmistakeable!

Third Stage
The dog will have a cough for quite a few days it varies from honking, hacking and generally that very annoying tickly cough that the dog cannot control enough to stop.

Fourth Stage
You may find that when the phlegm has dried up that you will see some phlegm reoccur for a day, hopefully this should indicate that this is the start of the recovery process.

You may also find your dog will have either a very bad upset tummy or a period of vomiting.  This *should* be short lived.  but obviously monitor your dogs health in particular watch out for signs of dehydration.  The diarrhoea is very dark in colour and smells rancid!  If it is only for a couple of times it should in theory clear up as it is part of the process whereby the virus is working its way through and out the system (thus near the end of the illness).  However if the diarrhoea or vomiting is extreme then do ask for advice from your vet.

Fifth Stage
Fairly minor but as the dog is recovering you may see they have a slight discharge from their eyes.  Just wipe this away using a cool teabag (that has been infused with hot water and more importantly ALLOWED TO COOL!)  Wipe from the inner corner of the eye (nearest nose) to the outer.

Sixth Stage
Most dogs do not suffer from a sixth stage but they could develop pneumonia so CLEARLY this needs veterinary care.  Hopefully your dogs sixth stage can actually be deemed as recovered rather than very poorly with pneumonia which is rare.

It is important to watch how your dog is coping with the condition as not all dogs need veterinary treatment.  So it is down to you as to how you feel it is appropriate to treat your dog.  It is important to realise that young pups and old dogs can be more affected by the condition.  Monitoring – general signs of health

I would recommend treating the symptoms with a few home remedies such as honey.  Honey is very soothing and will not cause any irritation to the throat.  I would not give cough medicine until after the phlegm stage has cleared.

Manuka Honey is very good as it is antiviral, antibacterial amongst other healing properties.  If you are able to get Manuka 10 or 15 then the higher the better.

Giving the honey as frequently as required to soothe.  (a teaspoon at least twice daily with a few other doses throughout the day).  Even your regular honey will be of help as it is considered “Natures antibiotic”

I would also give Echinacea twice daily and omega 3 (500mg) twice daily for the duration of the condition.  These remedies will help support your dogs immune system.

I usually keep in my fridge natural yoghurt which also helps with the immune system however I would only give it to the dog once the phlegm stage has cleared. Two dessert spoons twice daily.

You *could* give your dog cough medicine however I found the honey to be of more benefit.  If you wish to give your dog cough medicine – then check with your vet on their recommendation but I have used Benylin Cough medicine in the past.

If at any stage you are concerned about your dog then you MUST consult your vet for advice.

There is a kennel cough vaccine, which is administered by putting drops up the nose.  It isn’t 100% effective BUT if you hear of an outbreak in your area then it would be worth considering.  The vaccine can provide between 6mths to a year of protection.  Which hopefully at the very least would reduce your dogs symptoms.

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