Kennel cough; What to do when your “kids” have the flu

Posted By elaine on September 29, 2010

It seems to happen about once every couple of years, despite vaccination efforts, my dogs get the dreaded “kennel cough”, also known as ‘infectious tracheobronchitis’.

Usually this happens in the winter after a show that has been held indoors for several days, but this time my “kids” picked it up at a summer show that we were at in early September.

My first dog started to cough while we were camping about 10 days after the show.  Within five days I had three dogs hacking and sniffling.

Dealing with kennel cough is much like dealing with kids with a cold.  There is not a lot you can do with them other than keep them away from other dogs and try to keep them from being too active. 

I have been very lucky because my dogs have never suffered with a secondary infection and so after about 10 days the coughing seems to stop and after a couple of weeks we can go back to our regular activities that include other dogs.

My oldest dog barely had any symptoms, just a runny nose and a little gurgle in her chest. The youngest one, a puppy that I adopted a few months ago, is suffering the most; my guess is because he has never had it before. 

He is the first that I have worried about.  The coughing seems to be a little harder but he doesn’t have a fever. I have been treating him with Robitussin DM and that seems to help a little, but in the morning he really starts coughing. so much so he usually spits up.

He may be the first one that I have to seek veterinary care for but for right now I am just keeping a close eye on it.   After all he still is eating and wrestling with the others so he is feeling fairly well.

The first time one of my dogs caught this I ran to my vet.  I was pretty sure they were in deep trouble, but my vet, who has been treating my creatures for over 30 years now, calmed me down and reassured me that they would survive. 

That said; there are some concerns with “the cough”.  Like a human flu it can turn into pneumonia and this is a much more serious problem that will need a veterinarian.  There are stories of pneumonia turning critical.  So if your pet has a high fever, the cough lasts for more than 10 days, or other symptoms show up like lack of appetite or they start becoming lethargic, it is time to see your vet.  

 Also be very careful with home or over the counter remedies.  While some medicine for people helps with similar symptoms in dogs, some are deadly.  Many cough remedies include NSAIDs like Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen which can cause problems like liver failure. 

 You also have the problem of figuring out dosages.  Most people are heavier than dogs and dogs so you have to figure out a proper amount.  If you aren’t sure call your vet.

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