Or, if you wish to get technical – Acute Infectious Tracheobronchitis. (Now you can go to your doctor and have him fix your dislocated tongue, which tried to pronounce that bit of science).

Few professions can trivialize serious scientific erudition like veterinary medicine. For example, ‘Infectious Kerato-conjunctivitis’ is called “Pinkeye’ and “Bovine Ocular Squamous Cell Carciroma” is simply known as “Cancer eye”. That’s one of the reasons why I like being a Vet. We are good at simplifying complex issues, while other disciplines take a joy in complicating simple matters.

Banal though it may sound, the name “Kennel Cough” says it all. I am told the disease got its commonplace name because dogs came down with the malady while staying at boarding kennels, which might have had other dogs that were carriers of the germ.

This disease is very contagious and at-tacks the respiratory system in dogs. It is caused by a virus or a combination of viruses. Indeed, even the Distemper virus (see The Pet Corner September 28th, 2008) and the Parainfluenza virus could be implicated in “Kennel Cough”.

Actually, the viral damage to the lining of the respiratory tract can pave the way for a secondary bacterial invasion. The symptoms of a bacterial infection are then prominent and overwhelming.

Moreover, stress and environmental factors, e.g. the present dry season and the El Niño phenomenon, (especially when accompanied by high humidity levels, etc) tend to increase the dog’s vulnerability to the disease.

Symptoms
A harsh dry, convulsive cough, which may be followed by gagging and retching. In fact, the cough can be precipitated by simply rubbing the larynx or tracheal (neck) area.

Depression
Anorexia (loss of appetite wasting away)

Fever (especially if there is a secondary bacterial infection)

Sometimes a (bronchial) pneumonia

Sometimes a purulent (pus-like) discharge from the nostrils. Usually, the disease is self-limiting, but the coughing disturbs one’s peace of mind – and that of the neighbours who will surely complain, especially if the coughing epidodes take place during sleeping periods.

The disease is usually over within three weeks. If it lasts longer, we can be pretty sure that there is a bacterial invasion. We must therefore, treat accordingly (possibly with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents). Of course, we must try to remove all other stress factors. Your veterinarian will advise you about the choice of antibiotics.

Specific treatment

Isolate sick animal
Cough suppressants (containing Codeine, anti-histamines, etc)

Antibiotics (only if there is bacterial involvement)

Anti- inflammatory agents (cortico-steriods)

Introduce proper hygiene, better care and improved nutrition

Daily exercise of a moderate nature

Multi-vitamins, under the advice of your vet

Prevention
Vaccination, of course!! As I have mentioned earlier in our discussion on vaccinations, the drug companies are producing multi-immunity vaccines. The vaccines that most veterinarians have in their arsenal would prevent Kennel Cough while protecting your pet against Distemper and a host of other diseases that we have been/will be speaking about.

Enjoy this week ahead with your pet.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-Heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.