Why Is My Dog Coughing?

More on PawNation: cough, kennel cough, KennelCough, pet health, PetHealth

dog onthe bed pictureFlickr/hodge

We've all heard about the dreaded kennel cough, but what exactly is this mysterious ailment? Paw Nation had a chat with veterinarian Jill A. Richardson, an expert in pet safety, the Vice President of My Dog Walks, a consultant for the Veterinary Information Network and an instructor for the Penn Foster Vet Tech Program to get to the bottom of kennel cough and other things that make your dog sound all raspy.

Why is my dog coughing?
Many things can cause your dog to cough. Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, CIRDC, is a new term to describe various pathogens that can cause coughing and other respiratory signs in dogs. Viruses and bacteria that can cause your dog to cough include bordatella, commonly referred to as kennel cough, staphlococcus or streptococcus infection and also the viruses canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, canine influenza and canine adenovirus type 2.

How do these diseases spread?
Just like the way a cold or flu transfers from people to other people, these bacteria and virus transfer to a healthy dog through direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected dog. Sometimes contaminated clothing, food or water bowls can store and transfer the disease. A dog that is visiting a kennel, doggy day care or other social areas are more at risk to become infected.

How serious are these diseases?
Sometimes these pathogens only cause minor respiratory illness and sometimes they may be life threatening. Canine distemper most often results in severe clinical signs and death while bordatella infections can be resolved with supportive care and TLC.

How can I stop my dog from getting these diseases?
Prevention is key. There are vaccines available for most respiratory diseases in dogs. In fact a new vaccine just came on the market for canine influenza. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccination options for your dog.

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