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|Kennel cough is also known as Infectious Tracheobronchitis. Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis characterized by a harsh, hacking cough that most people describe as sounding like “something stuck in my dog’s throat.” This bronchitis may be of brief duration and mild enough to warrant no treatment or it may progress all the way to a life-threatening pneumonia depending on which infectious agents are involved and the strength of the pet. An uncomplicated kennel cough runs a course of a week or two and entails frequent fits of coughing in a patient who otherwise feels active and normal. Uncomplicated cases do not involve fever or listlessness, just lots of coughing. Numerous organisms may be involved in a case of kennel cough; it would be unusual for only one agent to be involved. Infections with the following organisms frequently occur concurrently to create a case of kennel cough:
The classical combination for uncomplicated kennel cough is infection with parainfluenza or adenovirus Type 2 with Bordetella bronchiseptica. Infections involving the distemper virus or canine influenza are more prone to progressing to pneumonia. Dogs can make an assortment of respiratory sounds. Usually a cough is recognizable but it is important to be aware of another sound called a reverse sneeze. The reverse sneeze is often mistaken for a cough, a choking fit, sneezing, retching, or even gasping for breath. In fact, the reverse sneeze represents a post-nasal drip or tickle in the throat. It is considered normal especially for small dogs or dogs and only requires attention if it is felt to be excessive. A cough can be dry or productive, meaning it is followed by a gag, swallowing motion, production of foamy mucus (not to be confused with vomiting). How does this start you wonder? An infected dog sheds infectious bacteria and/or viruses in respiratory secretions. These secretions become aerosolized and float in the air where they can be inhaled by a healthy dog. Obviously, crowded housing and suboptimal ventilation play important roles in the likelihood of transmission but organisms may also be transmitted on toys, food bowls or other objects.The normal respiratory tract has substantial safeguards against invading infectious agents. The most important of these is probably what is called the mucociliary escalator. This safeguard consists of tiny hair-like structures called cilia that protrude from the cells lining the respiratory tract and extend into a coat of mucus over them. The cilia beat in a coordinated fashion through the lower and more watery mucus layer called the sol. A thicker mucus layer called the gel floats on top of the sol. Debris, including infectious agents, get trapped in the sticky gel and the cilia move them upward towards the throat where the collection of debris and mucus may be coughed up and/or swallowed.
The mucociliary escalator is damaged by the following:
Without this, a fully functional mucociliary escalator or invading bacteria, especially Bordetella bronchiseptica, the main agent of kennel cough, may simply march down the airways unimpeded. Bordetella bronchiseptica organisms have some tricks of their own as well:
Because it is common for Bordetella to be accompanied by at least one other infectious agent, kennel cough is actually a complex of infections rather than infection by one agent.
Classically, dogs get infected when they are kept in a crowded situation with poor air circulation and lots of warm air for example; a boarding kennel, vaccination clinic, obedience class, local park, animal shelter, animal hospital waiting room, or grooming parlor. In reality, most causes of coughing that begin acutely in a dog are due to infectious causes and usually represent some form of kennel cough.
THE INCUBATION PERIOD IS 2 TO 14 DAYS Dogs are typically sick for 1-2 weeks. Infected dogs shed Bordetella organism for 2-3 months following infection. Although most cases will go away on their own, we like to think we can hasten recovery with antibiotics to directly kill the Bordetella organism. Kennel cough may be treated with cough suppressants to provide comfort during natural recovery. Alternatively, antibiotics and cough suppressants can be combined. Vaccination is only available for: Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, and canine influenza. Infections with other members of the kennel cough complex cannot be prevented. Vaccine against adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and canine distemper is generally included in the basic puppy series and following boosters .Bordetella bronchiseptica, vaccination can either be given as a separate injection or as an oral immunization.
VACCINATION IS NOT USEFUL IN A DOG ALREADY INCUBATING KENNEL COUGH.
Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination may not prevent infection. In some cases, vaccination minimizes symptoms of illness but does not entirely prevent infection.