Kennel Cough has hit Portland. A recent outbreak of confirmed cases has been sweeping the Greater Portland area since around the beginning of August. Because this bacterial infection is highly contagious—though not a serious illness, it creates a problem for areas where dogs meet: dog parks, day care, training classes, and dog kennels in Portland. Extra care in cleaning and screening is the best preventative.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is similar to the common cold  in humans. A dry, hacking cough is the primary symptom. While it can sound disconcerting for their human companions, dogs often keep up their normal energy level and are not overly taxed by the condition. Infectious Tracheobronchitis is the medical term for kennel cough. It is caused by Bordetella bornchiseptica or the canine parainfluenza virus. The infection creates inflammation of the respiratory tract, causing irritation which leads to coughing and a sore throat. While kennel cough is not generally a serious condition, it can make a dog susceptible to secondary infections.

kennel cough PortlandHow it Spreads?

It is the ability to spread quickly that makes kennel cough so difficult to deal with. Just about any type of contact can spread the disease. The small bits expelled when a dog coughs are one way the infection is spread. Playing with the same toys, sleeping on the same bedding, or even just an quick dog-to-dog greeting can spread this fast-moving infection. Symptoms set in three to five days after exposure.

Kennel Cough Symptoms

As  the name suggests, a persistent cough is the main sign that a dog has been infected with kennel cough. The greatest risk of infection is to puppies and unvaccinated dogs. The cough can seem like the dog has something stuck in his or her throat, or even be similar to gagging.

If a dog becomes excited or is playing it may cause the coughing to worsen. Occasionally the cough is accompanied by a runny nose, drippy eyes, and/or sneezing. However the honk-like cough is the tell-tale sign.

Treatment for Kennel Cough

Although there is generally no serious health threat from kennel cough, it is still best to get your dog in to see a veterinarian. A cough may appear to be kennel cough but actually be a different condition. A veterinarian will eliminate other illnesses as the cause of a cough. While kennel cough will subside on its own, medication will help minimize symptoms and shorten the illness. Humidifying the room where the dog sleeps will have a soothing effect on his or her dry, sore throat.

If you suspect your dog is displaying symptoms of kennel cough or has been in contact with a dog who does have it, your dog should be kept at home. Let other dog owners and/or facility operators know, if they have been in contact with your dog in the past three to five days. The best way to stave off spreading the infection is to stay ahead of it with thorough cleaning and isolating dogs with the infection.