Coughing not just in kennels

Doug Paterson
Doug Paterson

Almost every dog owner has heard of kennel cough, which causes severe croup, or whooping cough like symptoms in dogs, which can be very debilitating, and can last for weeks.

Not so many people know this same condition as infectious tracheobronchitis, but for a number of reasons this lesser known descriptive name is perhaps more appropriate.

The name kennel cough is very misleading. It is a hugely common perception amongst loving dog owners that their pet pooch will only contract kennel cough if he or she goes into kennels.

A recent study of kennel cough transmissions showed that the disease was just as common in dogs who had never set foot in a kennel.

This study certainly bears out in practice. In fact, us vets usually believe that Kennel Cough infection will be more likely in a dog who has never been into kennels, because the dogs who go into kennels are normally vaccinated for the disease!

So I will start to use the ‘vetty’ descriptive term: infectious tracheobronchitis.

The disease is very infectious: it is airborn, and therefore spreads easily between dogs out on walks (you only need to walk past an infected dog for your pooch to catch it).

It is very common: we have seen an increasing number of cases recently as we move into the winter season (very like colds and flu infections are on the rise in people).

As with so many illnesses that we treat: it is preventable. Vaccination doesn’t even involve a needle, it is administered as a nasal drop – the same method that medics are starting to use to immunise children against flu.

Vaccination will vastly reduce your dog’s risk of an infection because it prevents the nasty, virulent strain.

Even if your pooch were to catch infectious tracheobronchitis after a vaccination, it will end up much less severe and result in him or her getting better more quickly.

Vaccination lasts for a whole year, and can be conveniently repeated alongside your dog’s annual booster jab.

So a timely reminder for the winter flu season: call your vet and impress them by asking for an infectious tracheobronchitis vaccination for your dog.