Kennel Cough & Upper Respiratory Infections - What you need to know before you go to the veterinarian

Kennel Cough and Upper Respiratory Infections

By Kristi Peterson, DVM and Chelsea Capaccio, RVT

Kennel Cough and Upper Respiratory Infections are highly contagious conditions in the upper respiratory system of dogs. When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, the disease becomes airborne and can be transmitted to other dogs without direct contact. The close proximity at dog parks, behavior classes, boarding, or grooming facilities provides the environment the disease needs to spread. Much like a cold or flu in humans, an infected dog's immune system often clears the infection without medical intervention.

We have recently seen higher rates of dogs presenting for the common signs and symptoms of Kennel Cough and other Upper Respiratory Infections. Dr. Kristi Peterson of Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center is here to answer some of our most frequently asked questions about these infectious diseases.

1. What are the signs and symptoms?
Dogs with Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infections often show the following signs:
• Sneezing or Reverse Sneezing
• Coughing
• Eye and Nasal Discharge

2. How long does it take for the signs to resolve?
• Much like in humans, the infection is self-limiting and the dog's immune system will mount an immune response to fight the infection within one week.

3. How long is my dog contagious?
• Every strain is different and therefore has a varying length of time, however, most dogs are no longer contagious after 2 weeks.

4. What are the common treatments?
• As in people with a cold or flu, there often are not any treatments or medications necessary while the infection runs its course. If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, such as a severe cough or difficulty breathing, cough suppressants and antibiotics may be prescribed.

5. My dog is vaccinated, can s/he still get kennel cough?
• Yes, as with the flu vaccine in humans, vaccines for dogs do not cover every strain of Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infection.

6. When should I bring my dog in?
If your dog exhibits any of the following, they should be seen by a veterinarian for assessment:
• Lethargy
• Not eating
• A cough so severe they cannot rest
• Difficulty breathing
• Concern for fever

If you are concerned your dog is in respiratory distress, has severe lethargy, or any of the above signs, please contact Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center by dialing 925-866-8387 for assistance.
We are located at:
2000 Bishop Drive
San Ramon, CA 94583

Our Hours of Operation are:

Monday- Friday: 7am-10pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am-8pm

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