Canine cough is the most common infectious disease affecting dogs in Ireland. It is a highly contagious disease and dogs of all ages can be affected.
As the name suggests, the key sign is a harsh, dry cough – very much like whooping cough in humans. The coughing can last for several weeks and during this time more serious complications, such as pneumonia, may arise. In puppies or older dogs, or where there are other health problems, such complications can occasionally prove fatal.
The disease can be caused by a number of bacterial and viral agents including Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus.
It is passed from dog to dog via airborne droplets – a case of ‘coughs and sneezes spreading diseases’ – and by direct nose to nose contact. Any dog that comes into contact with other dogs is potentially at risk.
Canine cough is sometimes referred to as kennel cough, but your pet is equally likely to encounter the disease whenever and wherever dogs gather together. This can include places like parks, grooming parlours, housing estates, walkways and beaches in addition to boarding kennels, shows or training classes.
Little can be done to cure the disease once it’s started; you simply make the dog as comfortable as possible and try to control the cough. In more severe cases, other drugs (e.g., antibiotics) may be needed to control secondary complications.
The disease normally subsides after a few weeks, but it will have been an extremely unpleasant experience for both dog and owner.
If your dog is likely to be in close contact with other dogs, vaccination against canine cough is recommended. Intranasal vaccination (administered via a quick squirt up the nose) protects against the two main infectious agents involved in Canine Cough and provides continuous protection for a full twelve months. Annual vaccination is required to maintain protection. This vaccine can be given at the same time as your dogs annual booster vaccination!