PDSA: Helping our pets with coughs and colds
Catching a nasty cough is something that most of us won’t be a stranger to, but many aren’t aware that our four-legged friends can suffer from a similar respiratory infection.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Kennel cough is an infection of the airways that results in a dry hacking cough in dogs and can be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria. It spreads through direct contact between dogs, as well as in the air and on surfaces (it can survive in the environment for several weeks), so is commonly, but not exclusively, found when a group of pooches are gathered in one space, such as in kennels or doggy day care.
“Symptoms of kennel cough can sometimes take up to two weeks to develop and can last for up to three weeks. While most dogs will come down with a hacking cough but otherwise stay well, puppies, older dogs, and those with another illness might suffer from other symptoms such as reduced appetite, low energy, and a high temperature.”
Treating your poorly pooch
“Dogs with kennel cough will usually recover at home within one to three weeks, without medication. Exercise can make their cough much worse so it’s important to keep your pooch warm and rested, and give them plenty of fluids. Some dogs with kennel cough can benefit from sitting in a steamy room (perhaps while you have a shower or bath) to help relieve the congestion in their airways. Never leave your dog alone in a steamy room though, or force them to stay if they aren’t comfortable.
“If your furry friend has more severe symptoms, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, which can reduce airway inflammation and bring down a high temperature. Antibiotics are rarely needed for kennel cough as many cases are caused by viruses (which don’t respond to antibiotics), but if your dog is very young, old or suffers from any other health conditions, your vet may prescribe them as an additional precaution.
“Keep your pooch away from other dogs and public spaces for two to three weeks as, even after their symptoms have cleared, they may still be contagious and can continue to spread the infection.
“The most effective way to prevent kennel cough is through vaccination, especially if your pooch spends lots of time around other furry friends. Protection from the vaccine lasts for around 12 months and significantly reduces the chance of your dog catching and spreading the infection.”
Visit pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/pet-health-hub/conditions/kennel-cough website for more information and expert advice.