What causes canine cough?
Like human coughs, canine cough can be caused by a number of different viral and bacterial infections. Your cat or dog may pick up a cough after inhaling bacteria or virus particles in the air, or through direct contact with a sick animal. Canine cough
can even be transferred through contaminated objects like water dishes or toys so be sure to give them a thorough clean.
When natural defences fail
Under normal circumstances your pet has an effective line of defence against bacteria and virus particles: the mucus lining in its respiratory tract traps them and stops them causing illness. But this mechanism can fail if your pet is stressed, cold, or there's lots of dust or smoke in the air. Crowded, poorly ventilated conditions can also increase chances of the condition spreading rapidly.
Greencross Vets' Dr Daniel van Geuns says it can be hard to pinpoint the source of the infection.
“It normally takes about four days before the virus or bacteria have multiplied to the point that it started to cause inflammation of tissues and the coughing begins,” the Paradise-based vet says.
But once you notice your pet is unwell, be sure to keep it away from others: that means no trips to puppy school the dog park or groomer
“Canine cough is highly contagious and if possible the pets should be separated until the disease has resolved,” Dr van Geuns says.
Vaccinations against Bordetella and Parainfluenza are recommended to help prevent disease and are compulsory at boarding kennels
. Your pet will also need an annual booster
“However, only healthy pets should be vaccinated,” Dr van Geuns says.
Dr van Geuns says thankfully canine cough is not usually life threatening.
“Most patients will recover from it naturally, however they may require a course of antibiotics
,” he says.
“It can be quite debilitating with harsh coughing continuing for a number of weeks.”
“A small number of patients will develop more severe secondary infection and pneumonia,” Dr van Geuns says.