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Lurking about where canines congregate is a virus called infectious canine tracheobronchitis, more commonly called kennel cough. This is a highly contagious inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Initial symptoms are a dry, harsh, hacking cough, followed by gagging and retching, which will begin 8-10 days after being exposed to a kennel cough carrier. These symptoms can persist two weeks to two months, depending on the severity. During this time, your best friend’s temperature will remain normal. The cough is most severe for the first 5-7 days and is usually non-productive. It sounds much worse than it really is. With proper care, a mild case will simply run its course and “go away” on its own. This virus seemingly comes out of nowhere and spreads like wild fire. Isolation for the first 5-7 days is a must!

Although normally non-life threatening, serious complications can develop. This condition can escalate, leading to bronchopneumonia or chronic bronchitis, inflaming and damaging the larynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes. Symptoms will include lethargy, loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge. His temperature will rise as bacteria enter the lungs. A productive cough may begin, although cough suppressants are usually not recommended as coughing will help clear the lungs of mucous. Take these symptoms seriously – It’s time to get to the vet - antibiotics and bronchodilators will be necessary.

Kennel cough is transmitted, most commonly, where dogs are in close contact, dog to dog, nose to nose, such as dog shows, boarding kennels, pet stores, groomers, and dog parks. Now with the rising popularity of “therapy dogs” allowed in businesses, the possibility of exposure is everywhere. The kennel cough germs can linger even on shopping carts and floors of your local grocery store. Who would have thought??

If your dog does develop symptoms of kennel cough, there are a few things that you can do to keep him comfortable while you wait out a mild case:

*Rest *Good nutrition *Fresh water *Slow walks *Humidifier or shower steam

*Avoid any type of smoke *Herbal cough syrup (found at health food stores)

*Honey (one tablespoon every 3 hours to settle cough)

*Robitussin Max Strength or Vicks 44 are both safe (dosage depends on dog’s size)

*Vitamin C fights infection

*Essential Oils: Young Livings Peppermint, Lemon, or Eucalyptus are known to ease a cough

No amount of sanitizing will kill 100% of the virus causing germs, therefore, reducing exposure to unvaccinated dogs and vaccinating your own is clearly the answer. The vaccination requires two initial Bordatella nasal vaccines given 4 weeks apart, then a booster yearly. 80% of all unvaccinated dogs will get kennel cough if exposed to a carrier. Remember, many kennel cough carriers may demonstrate no symptoms.

If you must take your dog to a boarding facility, choose one that requires proof of immunization. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Allowing your pal to go unvaccinated and be out and about swapping germs with the “wrong crowd” is very risky business.

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