Kennel cough is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that can be caused by a variety of different bacteria and viruses that results in a dry, “goose honking” cough. We tend to see more cases of kennel cough in the summer months (both in vaccinated and non-vaccinated dogs), due to the increased dog-to-dog contact during this time: visiting dog parks, dog beaches, boarding facilities, and so forth.

Exposure can come from nose to nose contact, shared toys or even communal water dishes. Typically symptoms are seen up to 2 weeks following exposure, and can last 7-10 days. The kennel cough vaccine protects against one of the most common sources of kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) but just like our flu shot, it cannot ensure complete immunity from every strain. However, vaccination allows your dog to mount a stronger immune response when exposed to kennel cough, therefore decreasing the severity of symptoms experienced. A vaccinated dog with kennel cough exposure may develop a dry, goose honking cough that can sound at times like a gagging noise. Occasionally, coughing can be severe enough that your dog brings up some clear or white foam. As long as your dog remains bright and happily eating and drinking with normal energy levels, no medical assistance is needed. If your dog begins to show signs of lethargy or loss of appetite, they should be seen by a veterinarian.

Please note that kennel cough remains infectious for three weeks after resolution of symptoms, and it is recommended to keep your dog separated from other dogs during this time in order to prevent the spread of infection.

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