Just about every dog owner has heard of kennel cough. Although it is extremely uncomfortable, for a healthy adult dog, kennel cough is nothing to be concerned about and should go away without treatment in 2-3 weeks.
However, kennel cough can be much more severe for puppies because it can stunt lung development and cause life-threatening pneumonia. The problem is puppies tend to cough a lot, even when they don’t have kennel cough. Because of this, it’s important to learn what kennel cough sounds like. When you can recognize the sound, you will know if it’s just a simple cough or if you should take your puppy to the vet for treatment.
What Does it Sound Like and What Are The Symptoms?
With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what a kennel cough sounds like and what the conditions are.
What it Sounds Like
The first thing you will want to listen for is if it is a consistent cough that seemed to start out of nowhere. One moment your dog could have been fine, the next moment they can’t stop coughing.
The cough sounds like harsh hacking, almost like they are trying to throw up but nothing comes out.
Some people describe it as a cat hacking up a fur ball. If your puppy is making that type of sound and it persists, you should take them to the vet.
In severe cases, some people have said it sounds like goose honk, which we find to be surprisingly accurate.
What Are The Symptoms?
There are a variety of symptoms. Typically when your puppy has kennel cough they will also exhibit at least one of the following symptoms:
- Excessive Sneezing
- Runny Nose
- Eye Discharge
However, some puppies don’t show any of those additional symptoms of kennel cough, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have it, so if your pup is coughing up a store, it’s best to take them in just to be safe.
Many will tell you to pay attention to the appetite of the puppy, but this isn’t the best advice, it’s rare for kennel cough to affect the appetite of a puppy who is used to eating three times per day.
How Did My Puppy Get It?
There’s no simple answer to this question. That’s like trying to answer the question “how did I get the cold.” There could have been a wide variety of things that caused it.
However, when you understand what kennel cough is, it will give you a better guess at what could have caused it in your puppy.
So What Exactly is Kennel Cough?
In simple terms, it’s a cough caused by an upper respiratory infection. Either bacteria or a virus can cause this infection. Once the dog has been infected, it will infect the lungs, voice box, and windpipes.
Most puppies get infected in one of three ways…
1) They Were Infected Through The Air
There is a whole world around us that we can’t see with the naked eye. When a dog sneezes, coughs, or barks, they release thousands (literally) of microscopic contaminants into the air. The bacteria that causes kennel cough can live in an environment, so if your puppy was in a close environment with an infected dog, they run the risk of getting the infection.
2) They Were in Direct Contact With an Infected Dog
The virus is potent when spread through the air…it’s even more potent when it’s spread through direct contact.
If your puppy has been playing with other dogs, there’s a chance one of the other dogs either has kennel cough or is a carrier. If that’s the case, it’s almost certain your puppy will get infected.
3) They Came Into Contact With a Contaminated Object
As stated above, the bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough can survive in a wide variety of climates. If your puppy drinks out of the same bowl as an infected dog or if they chew on the same toy as an infected dog, he/she will most likely develop kennel cough.
The Top Home Remedies
Now that you know how to identify what could potentially be kennel cough and what could have caused it, it’s time to talk about how to treat it.
If you suspect your puppy has kennel cough, it’s important to take them to the vet right away. For healthy adult dogs, this isn’t as vital, but kennel cough can be a serious condition for puppies whose lungs are still developing.
It goes without saying you should follow the instructions your vet gives you. But is there anything else you can do on top of that? Yup! There are a wide variety of home remedies that can either help speed up the healing process for your puppy or at the very least make them feel more comfortable until they are all healed up. Kennel cough can be very uncomfortable and painful for pups, so anything to relieve some of that pain and discomfort is helpful.
Even if your puppy isn’t suffering from kennel cough, probiotics are always a great idea to help strengthen the immune system. They are especially useful when your puppy has been infected because the immune system of your pup is already low.
However, if your vet gave you a prescription for some other pills for your dog, it’s important to ask them if it’s ok to give them some probiotics along with the prescribed pills.
Your puppy might not like swallowing those probiotic pills, but they sure will like licking honey! The primary reason we recommend honey is because it can help relieve the pain your dog is experiencing which will cause your dog to cough less.
This is important because the less your dog coughs, the quicker the infection will heal because there won’t be as much irritation.
So not only will your pup love the taste of the honey, but they will get some relief from the pain, and you will feel better knowing your little furry friend isn’t in as much pain as they were a few minutes ago. It’s a win for everyone! Just make sure you don’t give them too much, one tablespoon twice per day will do the trick.
As you know by now, one of the ways kennel cough is developed is through a virus. Cinnamon is antiviral, so by sprinkling some over your puppy’s food, you’ll be helping in fighting that virus.
4) Coconut Oil
We have talked a lot about the benefits coconut oil brings to dogs. Just like Cinnamon, coconut oil is antiviral. You can either pour some over their food or have them lick it right off the spoon…most dogs love the taste!
How to Prevent Kennel Cough
If you’ve gone through all these steps, your puppy should be well on their way to getting all healed up and back to their usual, playful self.
At this point, you might be wondering how you can prevent this from happening again. Although no preventive method will work 100% of the time since kennel cough can be developed through a variety of viruses and bacteria, there are a few things you can do that will drastically decrease the odds of your pup getting infected again in the future.
1) Get Your Puppy Vaccinated
Many dog owners are choosing to opt-out of some vaccinations…but I would think twice before you decide to opt-out of the kennel cough vaccination. This is hands down the best method to prevent your puppy from getting infected again in the future.
2) Don’t Share Bowls With Other Dogs
One of the primary ways this virus spreads is through contact with contaminated objects. It’s common for dogs to share bowls, but make sure you don’t let your dog share a bowl with another dog who hasn’t been vaccinated.
3) Be Careful When Selecting Doggy Daycare
If you need to leave your dog at a doggy daycare or leave them at an overnight boarding service, make sure you are careful with your selection. Don’t have your dog stay at any boarding service that doesn’t require the vaccine. Thankfully, many facilities do require it these days.
4) Continue With The Cinnamon or Coconut Oil
Cinnamon and coconut oil are both antiviral which will help prevent your dog from getting virus-induced kennel cough. They also have many more benefits that we’ve covered extensively on this blog. You don’t need to do both, choose one or the other and sprinkle it over each of their meals.
Keep in mind coconut oil is more calorie dense than cinnamon, so if you’re worried about your puppy overeating, choose cinnamon over coconut oil.
Now you know everything you need to know about kennel cough in puppies. Although kennel cough sounds the same in puppies as it does adults, it’s much more severe since puppies are still developing their lungs.
If you suspect your puppy has developed an infection, here’s the list of steps to take.
- See your vet
- See if you can figure out how your puppy became infected so you can prevent it in the future
- Have your puppy take whatever prescription the vet provides
- Follow the home remedies and find one that eases the pain
- Follow the steps to prevent your little guy from getting it again
Has your puppy ever developed kennel cough? What worked? Let us know below!
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