Kennel Cough

Last week we brought our new puppy home. He is now 9 weeks old. I brought him and our 3 yr old Border Collie to the vet. The older dog was due for her booster shot and I had the vet give our puppy the kennel cough vaccine which he administered through nose drops. Now our 3 year old has never had the vaccine and she has not been in contact with other dogs. The last 2 or 3 days she has been coughing - it sounds like a deep hoarse cough. Then she spits up some nasty looking saliva with mucus in it. My questions are whether or not she could have caught the germ from the puppy from either the vaccine itself or from the fact the puppy has been in contact with a few other dogs? Can a dog carry the germ while showing no symptoms? And what is the incubation period for such a germ to develop into a cough?

She couldn't have caught it second-hand from the vaccine but it is possible that the pup brought it from contact with the other dogs, though since it is airborne transmission, it is unlikely. Many dogs do however carry the disease and yet show little or no signs.

Incubation period is 5-10 days before a cough is seen. One of the easiest ways to tell if it is kennel cough (a series of infectious agents) other than experience with the type of cough and hacking is to gently palpate the neck around the larynx. If the dog coughs in response to the pressure, more than likely it's kennel cough. Treatment for the disease is usually minimal - like human viruses, it must simply run its course. Most vets treat the dog with an antibiotic to prevent secondary bacterial infections. This antibiotic will not "cure" the kennel cough though. Most good vets will tell you that there is really nothing one can do to cure the disease. It generally runs its course (coughing) for a week but the disease may persist for up to a month. Affected dogs should be isolated from other dogs until well after the symptoms have disappeared (since it is spread through the air). Vaccines are good for preventing the majority of cases. The DHLPP stops a lot of the cases and the additional Bordatella vaccine should cover your dog for most cases. Be sure to get the vaccine (nasal or injection) several days before exposure to other dogs (dog competitions, entering a boarding kennel, visiting relatives, etc.) as it takes a couple of days to become effective. Dogs with a lot of exposure to other dogs should get biannual boosters to be safe. But just because a dog is vaccinated does not mean it cannot get kennel cough. Like human flu shots, the protection is against most, but not all infectious agents.

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