Kennel cough is a general term for a cold your dog can get if he/she is exposed to other dogs or areas where other dogs have been. The medical name for the most common type of kennel cough is Bordetella. People tend to associate kennel cough with dogs who have recently been boarded (or “kenneled”). However, your dog could contract kennel cough anywhere they encounter other dogs. This includes daycare, the groomer, veterinarian’s office, in dog training class, at a dog park, your neighbor’s dog or any other dog related event/space. These infections are similar to a chest cold in humans and can be bacterial or viral in nature. Any time your dog is in the vicinity of an infected dog, the potential for infection exists. The incubation period is about 3-10 days, meaning your dog will not display symptoms of illness for about 3-10 days following exposure to the virus. This undoubtedly makes it difficult to detect that a dog is sick before potentially infecting others in a social environment and often why dogs can leave a facility symptom-free only to show symptoms at home a few days later
Vaccinating your dog with the Bordetella vaccine will help reduce the risk. However, your dog can still contract kennel cough even if he or she has been vaccinated. There are many strains and mutations of the virus. The Bordetella vaccine is similar to the “flu shot” for people; each year, a vaccine is developed based on which strains are suspected to be most prevalent. Simply put, when your dog has a Bordetella vaccination, it doesn’t guarantee he or she will not get kennel cough. A strong immune system is the best defense against infection. This is why puppies, elderly dogs, and dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to contracting kennel cough.
We require and strictly enforce that all dogs at Puppy Haven are current on their vaccines, including the Bordetella vaccine. We also adhere to strict cleaning procedures, including daily cleaning of all surfaces with dog-friendly disinfectant, nightly scrub-downs, and regular deep cleans. Although our team is not trained to diagnose kennel cough, we are trained to identify the symptoms and are as cautious and preventative as possible. If we observe a dog presenting kennel cough symptoms, they are isolated immediately to prevent further exposure to other dogs and a vet and the owner are contacted. While similar symptoms can result from things like allergies or eating a bone or toy that might irritate a dog’s throat, Puppy Haven must treat all cases with the assumption that it might be kennel cough until cleared by a vet.
The most common symptom of kennel cough is coughing or hacking. Other symptoms include sneezing, running nose, eye discharge, lethargy, loss of appetite and sometimes fever.
If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms of kennel cough, take them to vet immediately and keep them away from other dogs, including daycare and boarding, for at least 14 days. This is generally how long it takes for a dog to completely shed the virus from their system and no longer be contagious to other dogs.