Beyond Barking: Diagnosing Kennel Cough

Dogs bark when they are excited, agitated, angry, or feeling territorial. But when dogs wheeze, the pet owners should take immediate care to take them to a trip to the vet; it may be possible that Fido is suffering from what is commonly dubbed as "Kennel Cough".

According to veterinarians, kennel cough (the more informal term for the canine disease Infectious Tracheobronchitis for dogs) is a highly contagious illness, which attacks canine upper respiratory tract and causes inflammation  of the area. An influenza-like corollary to dogs, it can also be transferred to other breeds - cats, birds, and even rabbits, as long as they share living quarters, kennels, veterinary cages, and the like. Kennel cough is never to rarely serious; however, it can cause the canine a fair amount of suffering (from the hacking, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing).

As with human respiratory diseases, this is also caused by viral or bacterial infections (strains such as canine distemper, canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and canine respiratory coronavirus have all been known to lead to kennel cough, as with bacterial strain Borditella bronchiseptica). And because of its highly contagious nature, contact with surfaces saturated with the mentioned strains can automatically and immediately infect the pets. Furthermore, the strains have an unusually long "shelf life", remaining dormant within weeks or months even after the symptoms have disappeared.

Signs show usually approximately a week after exposure, and can last for nearly a month. The initial symptoms are like that of common colds for humans: fever, sneezing and wheezing, and dry cough that evolves into persistent hacking or retching, especially if the trachea is excited. A lot of owners described the coughing as a kind of honk. In some cases, the retching can be as worse as though the dog can never retain any meal that he has consumed. And while it is true that kennel cough is not that serious, it could nevertheless pose a fatal threat to puppies or very old dogs (dogs with unfit respiratory tracts). There might be also the presence of a watery nasal discharge.

Dogs ailing from mild kennel cough can still manifest alertness and even a semblance of appetite. They can still be taken to walks and respond positively to their masters. But for others with the more debilitating degree, dogs can experience anorexia, malaise, a helpless inertia or lethargy - signs, which usually indicate that there is more to the scenario at play than common kennel cough.

At any rate, a visit to the veterinarian is always a must. And though dogs do recover on their own after five to twenty days - especially the well tended ones, making use of antibiotics or double-acting medical preparations  can make the recovery speedier and more definite. And these medicines - hydrocodone and butorphanol - are directed at stopping cough, ensuring the safety of the trachea.

And with proper diet, careful medication, and good tending, the loud, healthy bark of your dog will be restored in no time at all.

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