It’s an unmistakable sound. JS called it dry heaves and if you add a touch of seal vocalization to that you’ve nailed it. t is formally know as infectious canine tracheobronchitis aka Bordetella aka Kennel Cough. It’s a hacking cough that is usually is just a bother for the dog and maybe a bit more than a bother for their human overlords.
Kennel cough is caused by a bacteria and an influenza virus with the virus basically beating up the hounds immune system enough that the bacteria settles in. Once it’s up and running the Bordetella vaccine isn’t effective. Because an exact virus and the bacteria are targeted by the vaccine and variants of both can cause the cough, the vaccine isn’t particularly effective anyway. Vaccinated dogs may get over the cough quicker than unvaccinated dogs. Some dogs are carriers showing no symptoms but able to infect other dogs.
Oh – it’s highly contagious with dog to dog contact and water bowls common ways to pass the thing around. It can also be passed through the air. According to Land Park Vet Clinic kennel cough is particularly prevalent this year. They are not “bothering with the shot” (LS).
And it came to LPDogs in July. I know this: First out was Butters (no shot). Next was Emma (vaccinated). Zach started up on Monday, July 14 (vaccinated) and now Sam (no shot.)
Apparently the dog is less bothered by the cough than we are – at least typically. Secondary infections / pneumonia are an issue. In extreme cases the coughing can cause bronchial scaring. Our vet recommended sulfa type antibiotics for 10 days and Hydrocodone (codeine + acetaminophen). The antibiotic is to lessen the chance of a secondary infection; the codeine effectively calms the cough. Codeine mixed with acetaminophen is either called Vicodin (rare these days), Norco (commonly) or Hydrocondone. Acetaminophen is hard on any liver so as little as possible is indicated. Vicodin had / has more acetaminophen than Norco.
The good news is that Hydrocondone is very effective in calming the cough. It seems to take most of an hour to kick in and has a half life of roughly 4 hours. Keeping a dog calm helps and if the cough is serious then dose with Hydrocondone every 4 hours or so. An over the counter cough med may also work but I don’t have the preferred active ingredient so ask a vet. Because it spreads easily – multiple dogs in a household are likely to all end up with it. With a typical viral 2 – 5 day ramp up.
This is a “gathering of dogs” disease; not just in kennels but anywhere. There are simple precautions that could ease the spread of the cough. Communal water dishes are a known way to pass it around. Also getting any dog with any symptoms off the field immediately is wise since dog to dog contact can pass the infection. It can also be airborne. Finally, coughing dogs should not come back until they are cough free (ideally for a couple of days.) We assume, but have no confirmation, that a dog that has gone through this and is now well has some persistent immunity and should be unlikely to get it again this year.