It is 5 in the morning when you are suddenly awakened by your dog. He sounds like he is choking on something caught in his throat, you rack your brain trying to think of what he could have gotten into, but can’t come up with a thing. He continues to make this sound on and off for the next couple hours so you make an appointment with your Veterinarian as soon as possible.
During your appointment the veterinarian declares your dog does not have anything stuck in his throat but has kennel cough!
Kennel cough is a broad term for an infectious bronchitis in dogs. It is characterized by frequent fits of harsh hacking. Caused by numerous different viruses and bacteria it is contracted when dogs are exposed to infected dogs. The infected dog sheds the infectious bacteria/virus through respiratory secretions which become air borne and then can be inhaled by a healthy dog. As it spreads fast especially when dogs are housed together it is most commonly seen in dogs that have been in kennels, but dogs that frequent the dog park often or attend other high density dog areas such as obedience classes or the groomers are also susceptible.
How long does Kennel cough last? Infection of kennel cough is most times mild and resolves in a couple weeks. In more severe cases antibiotics and cough suppressants are sometimes warranted.
Dogs vaccinated for kennel cough can still contract it! The vaccine is only available for certain viruses/bacteria, so dogs are still vulnerable to infection of other organisms that cannot be prevented. Kennel cough vaccine may help minimize symptoms of the infection. Somewhat like the human flu vaccine works in humans.
If your dog has a cough it is always a good idea to consult with your Veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues, as coughing could be a symptom of other conditions such as heart disease, collapsing trachea and pneumonia.
Further Reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennel_cough