Kennel Cough--or Infectious Tracheobronchitis--is an easily transmitted combination bacterial/viral disease in the canine patient. It is caused by a bacterial infection of Bordetella bronchiseptica and viral components parainfluenza and canine adenovirus. Tracheobronchitis is a highly infectious condition seen 5 to 10 days following exposure to the causative agents.
Kennel cough usually begins as the sudden onset of a harsh productive cough. If the throat is palpated or the pet pulls on a leach the cough is easily produced. Retching and gagging often occur following the cough. Severe cases may be exhibited by nasal discharge and secondary pneumonia produced by other opportunistic bacterial invaders. The pet’s temperature is typically normal to slightly elevated unless a secondary bacterial infection is present. Typically symptoms will last 1 to 3 weeks with the first 5 to 7 days being the most severe.
Treatment consists of broad spectrum antibiotics and cough suppressants as needed for the cough. In severe cases supportive therapy may be necessary. Antihistamines may be used to control the nasal discharge. This disease syndrome in severe cases may be confused with “Canine Distemper,” especially in cases when a pet has not been vaccinated.
Kennel Cough is often seen following conditions were a pet is stressed or undergoes crowded conditions such as being kenneled, picked up by animal control facility or being shown at dog show. Situations outside of a pet’s normal routine may be stressful in the canine.
Most boarding kennels will require vaccination prior to boarding and all humane societies and animal control facilities should give dogs vaccination upon entry to the facility. Any canine in contact with other dogs, including obedience classes, walks in the park or even those allowed visits to a pet store should be vaccinated. Once a cough is heard exposure has occurred and vaccination may not be preventative.
In practice we have seen the intranasal vaccines to be the most effective. Fort-Dodge Animal Health produces a highly effective intranasal vaccine which incorporates all three major components to the Kennel Cough Complex. Bronchi-Shield III is a modified live vaccine of both Canine Adenovirus type 2 and Parainfluenza with an avirulent live culture of Bordetella bronchiseptica. An intranasal vaccine is nothing more than nose drops. Intranasal vaccines stimulate local immunity. The respiratory system, especially the nasal mucus membranes are the route of entry for this disease process. The vaccine stimulates local IGA antibodies to prevent disease from developing in the mucus membranes themselves. Systemic or injectable vaccination should only be considered in pets that will not allow intranasal injection. An injectable bacterin is available by Pfizer Animal Health for Bordetella bronchiseptica and is called “Bronchicine”. Parainfluenza vaccines are also included in most yearly combination vaccines incorporating Parvovirus and Canine Distemper. All dogs possibly exposed to other canines should be vaccinated. Parainfluenza vaccines are given at 3 week intervals from 6 weeks of age to over 16 weeks and then yearly thereafter. Intranasal vaccines are given at 8 weeks of age and yearly thereafter. Bronchicine requires two doses of the bacterin at 2 to 4 week intervals and then readministered yearly.