Chicagoland Area Kennel Cough Worries

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The current outbreak in the Chicagoland area of Canine Kennel Cough has a lot of people worried.  

Here are the facts:

  • Kennel Cough is a tracheobronchitis that causes a dry hacking cough and sometimes a low grade fever.  Many other processes can cause a cough, so it is important not to self diagnose.  If your dog is coughing, schedule an appointment.
  • Kennel Cough can be caused by a number of viruses.  Bordatella Bronchiseptica is a bacteria that can also cause the syndrome.  The kennel cough vaccine protects against Bordatella and parainfluenza.
  • Vaccinated dogs are not immune to kennel cough, but they do have more protection, and the vaccine helps to decrease the risk of secondary bacterial infection.
  • Kennel cough is transmitted through airborne respiratory secretions.  The most common sources of infection are closed locations where there are stressed dogs barking.  Kennels, daycare facilities, dog parks, and larger grooming facilities are all places that have higher risk of exposure.
  • Dogs are typically sick for 1-2 weeks. Infected dogs can shed Bordetella organism for 2-3 months following infection
  • Canine influenza is another virus with very similar symptoms and may be a complicating factor (although this has not been confirmed) in the current outbreak.


 How do I prevent my dog from being exposed?

Avoid high risk areas with a lot of barking dogs.

Is Kennel Cough dangerous?

Kennel Cough can lead to pneumonia and potentially be dangerous,  but this is rare and most dogs recover in 1-2 weeks.

Will the Kennel Cough vaccine be enough to protect my dog?

Not completely.  Depending on what virus and bacteria your dog is exposed to, the vaccine may lessen the symptoms and prevent more serious infection, but she may still cough for a period of time.

I have to go out of town and board my dog…what should I do?

If it has been more than 6 months since your dogs last kennel cough vaccine, a booster would be advisable 5-7 days prior to boarding.

Should my dog get the Flu vaccine too?

Possibly.  Diagnosis of flu is more expensive than treating the symptoms, so the reality is we don’t know if the flu is connected to this outbreak yet.  While we don’t advocate every vaccine just because there is one, it might be advisable to vaccinate a dog that has to be kenneled in the next month or so.  The vaccine is a 2 part series, a booster given 2-3 weeks after the intial shot, so it would take about 4 weeks for the vaccine to be effective.

Should I bring my dog to the vet?

If the cough is mild, it may not be necessary, just keep your dog away  from other dogs as much as possible.  If the coughing is frequent, severe, or worse at night, then your dog should be seen.  Let the receptionist know your dog is coughing at the time you make the appointment.  When you arrive, call before you come in, or leave your dog in the car until we have a room ready for her, to minimize exposure to other dogs in the waiting room.  We recommend parking in back of the building and using the rear entrance so we can escort you straight into an exam room.

My dog is coughing, what should I do until I can get her into the vet?

Avoid contact with other dogs as much as possible.  Over the counter cough medicine with dextromethorphan is safe, but please call and check with us before you give your pet any medication.