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Kennel cough or tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious canine illness characterized by inflammation of the upper respiratory system. It can be caused by viral infections such as canine distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus, or canine respiratory coronavirus, or bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is so named because the infection can spread quickly among dogs, such as in the close quarters of a kennel.
Infection Both viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough are spread through the air by infected dogs sneezing and coughing. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact. It is highly contagious. Exposure occurs in environments where there are other dogs in proximity, such as kennels, dog shows, and groomers. Symptoms begin usually 3 to 5 days after exposure. The disease can progress to pneumonia.
Symptoms Symptoms can include a harsh, dry hacking/coughing, retching, sneezing, snorting or gagging;in response to light pressing of the trachea or after excitement or exercise. The presence of a fever varies from case to case. The disease can last from 10-20 days. Diagnosis is made by seeing these symptoms and having a history of exposure.
Treatment and prevention Antibiotics are given to treat any bacterial infection present. Cough suppressants are used if the cough is not productive (nothing is being coughed up). The prognosis is good. Prevention is by vaccinating for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella. In kennels, the best prevention is to keep all the cages disinfected. Most kennels will not board dogs without proof of vaccination.
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