Bulldog Information
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department,
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

'Kennel Cough' is the term that was commonly applied to the most prevalent upper respiratory problem in dogs in the United States. Recently, the condition has become known as tracheobronchitis, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Bordetellosis, or Bordetella. It is highly contagious in dogs. The disease is found worldwide and will infect a very high percentage of dogs in their lifetime.
Infectious agents involved

There are many different agents that contribute to the disease process of tracheobronchitis. The most common are parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and mycoplasma. Canine adenovirus, reovirus, and canine herpes virus are thought to possibly contribute to the disease. Although any one of these organisms can cause symptoms of the disease, the majority of cases are the result of more than one organism.

The most common viral agent is parainfluenza virus. This common virus will cause mild symptoms lasting less than 6 days unless there is involvement with other bacteria, as is usually the case. Most 5-way vaccines and 'kennel cough' vaccines offer some protection against this virus.

Bordetella bronchiseptica
is the most common bacteria isolated from this disease. Clinical signs of infections occur three to four days after exposure, and if uncomplicated with other agents, will last around 10 days. However, after the infection has been resolved, the affected animal will continue to shed the bacteria for 6 to 14 weeks and can spread the disease to other susceptible animals during that time. Bordetella is one of the agents protected against through the use of intranasal 'kennel cough' vaccines. Parainfluenza and Bordetella most commonly appear together in infectious tracheobronchitis, creating a disease that normally lasts from 14-20 days.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is a dry hacking cough sometimes followed by retching. Many owners describe the cough as having a 'honking sound.' A watery nasal discharge may also be present. With mild cases, dogs continue to eat and be alert and active. Many times, there is a recent history of boarding or coming in contact with other dogs. In more severe cases, the symptoms may progress and include lethargy, fever, inappetence, pneumonia, and in very severe cases, even death. The majority of severe cases occur in immunocompromised animals, or young unvaccinated puppies.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms and a history of recent exposure to other dogs. Bacterial cultures, viral isolation, and blood work can be performed to verify individual agents of the disease, but due to the characteristic nature of the symptoms are not routinely performed.

Treatment

There are two treatment options depending on the severity of the disease. In the most common mild (uncomplicated) form of the disease, antibiotics are usually not used. If the dog has a good appetite and is alert but suffers only from a recurrent cough, we will often let the disease run its course just as we would with a cold in humans. Treating the mild case does not shorten the length in which the animal will be a potential spreader of the disease. Many times, prednisone is given to help reduce the severity and frequency of the cough and to make the dog more comfortable. In addition, Bronchodilators  like aminophylline or cough suppressants may also be used.
In more severe (complicated) cases where the animal is not eating, running a fever, or showing signs of pneumonia, antibiotics are often used. The most common ones are tetracycline or trimethoprim-sulfa. However, many other choices are also available. Steroids or cough suppressants are not usually recommended because of the risk of immunosuppressive with steroids and the need to continue to clear extra fluid or mucous in pneumonia patients. Bronchodilators and even aerosol therapy can be used. In moderate or severe cases, veterinary care should be instituted, as the resultant pneumonia could become life threatening if not treated properly and promptly.
Continue reading: Kennel cough vaccination and prevention.



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Kennel Cough
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Canine parasitic skin diseases
Bulldog Health Information
Hereditary Diseases
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Heat stroke in Bulldogs
Inverted hind feet
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