Down South Westies
...Home of beautiful, loving, West Highland White Terriers!


We use and recommend
supplies for all your puppy needs!


Original Mars® Coat-King - 12 blade (fine)



 Nature's Miracle® Advanced Stain and Odor Remove



Kalaya Emu Oil Shampoo



Super White™ Coat Brightener Shampoo



Four Paws® Brewers Yeast With Garlic



Animal Ear Cleaning Products


 Puritan's Pride Logo
Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate Gel Caps 



All original text and images © Copyright 2000-2009 by Chatham Animal Rescue & Education, Inc.

"Kennel Cough" is a highly contagious disease that is prevalent in domestic dogs and wild canids worldwide. It does not appear to be a significant health risk to humans or cats at this time. Up until recently, the term was applied to most upper respiratory conditions in dogs in the United States. Nowadays, the condition is known as tracheobronchitis, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Bordetellosis, or Bordetella.

Most cases of kennel cough are not serious, and will run their course on their own within two weeks. However, in some cases dogs can develop life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is wise to take precautions to prevent your pet from contracting this disease.

Most cases of kennel cough occur in dogs who are in close contact with many other dogs. These dogs include those who attend dog shows, are boarded, or are housed in shelters or kennels.

Several different viruses and airborne bacteria cause kennel cough. The most common are parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and mycoplasma. It is possible that canine adenovirus, reovirus, and canine herpes virus may also contribute. In most cases of kennel cough, the disease is multifaceted and will include a combination of bacterial and viral agents.

The most common viral pathogen in kennel cough cases is parainfluenza. Most "DHLPP" 5-way vaccines, which dogs should receive annually, will offer some protection against this virus. The most common bacteria isolated is Bordetella bronchiseptica. There is an intranasal vaccine that is generally effective in warding off these bacteria, which should be given semi-annually to dogs at risk. Parainfluenza and Bordetella usually appear together in infectious tracheobronchitis.

Normally, symptoms of kennel cough will develop within a week after a dog has been exposed. The most common symptoms are a dry, hacking cough followed by retching, and coughing up a white foamy discharge. The cough is brought on by an inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (the air passages to the lungs). Some dogs also develop conjunctivitis ("pink eye"), rhinitis (inflamed nasal mucous membrane), and a nasal discharge.

In mild cases, dogs will be alert and continue to eat normally. In more severe cases, a dog can become feverish, depressed, lethargic, expel a thick yellow or green nasal discharge, and possibly even develop pneumonia. Some very severe cases are fatal.

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, isolate the affected animal from all other dogs, and contact your veterinarian immediately! Kennel cough spreads easily and quickly from dog-to-dog through the air. Keep all food and water bowls, and toys separated. Additionally, some pathogens that cause kennel cough can be transmitted from dog to dog via fomites (clothes, shoes, etc.). If you think one of your dogs has kennel cough, wash yourself and your clothes, and disinfect your shoes before you come into contact with your healthy dogs.

It is not difficult for a competent veterinarian to diagnose kennel cough based on a dog's symptoms and recent exposure to other dogs. Normally, the veterinarian will apply pressure to the dog's trachea. This almost always provokes the typical dry, hacking cough. If your animal exhibits severe symptoms, your veterinarian may perform more in-depth tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), a bacterial culture, or a chest x-ray.

If your dog has contracted an uncomplicated case of kennel cough, your veterinarian will probably prescribe antibiotics. The uncomplicated form of the disease usually lasts for approximately ten days. Complicated kennel cough, usually a combination of virus and bacteria, should always be treated with antibiotics and may last14-20 days. Some common antibiotics prescribed are Clavamox and Doxycycline. In more severe cases, Baytril (enrofloxacin) and a relatively new antibiotic, azithromycin, are usually effective. Your veterinarian may also recommend the use of an over-the-counter cough suppressant or a bronchodilator (aminophylline).

The best prevention is not to expose your dogs to other dogs, especially if they are puppies or have other illnesses. However, dog socialization is frequently necessary and can also be beneficial for your dog. The intranasal kennel cough vaccine is recommended twice a year for all dogs that attend shows, or are boarded. The vaccine provides immunization within 72 hours. If you know your dog will be in contact with several other dogs, it is best to have the dog vaccinated a week prior to their exposure.

Vaccination alone cannot protect your animal from contracting this disease. There is always some risk if you show or board your dog, or if your dog comes into contact with strays. Your best weapon against kennel cough may be your own knowledge of the disease! ps

All original text and images © Copyright 2000-2009 by Chatham Animal Rescue & Education, Inc.

Chatham Animal Rescue and Education