Kennel Cough and Colds: What’s the Difference?

Kennel Cough and Colds: What’s the Difference?

Like us, dogs can get sick from viruses and bacteria that cause the common cold. Dogs can also get something known as kennel cough, thus named because it can sweep through a kennel or boarding facility quickly with its highly contagious nature. So what’s the difference?

The common cold in dogs is pretty similar to ours. There is no vaccine, but colds are usually mild and short in duration, a few days and your dog is back to his normal self. Symptoms in dogs are similar to humans as well and can include:

  •  Coughing
  • Wheezing
  •  Lethargy
  •  Mild fever

Kennel cough, on the other hand, is a much more serious infection. It can last up to 20 days, especially in puppies and older dogs. Symptoms can be severe and include:

  •  Forceful cough
  •  Sneezing
  • Running discharge from nose or eyes
  •  Loss of appetite
  •  Lethargy
  •  Fever

While highly contagious, being around other dogs is not the only way dogs can contract kennel cough. Vets have found that dogs that live with smokers are more likely to come down with the infection, as are dogs that live in poorly ventilated and/or crowded conditions, exposed to cold temperatures, dust and even stress.

There is a vaccine, the Bordetella vaccine, but this only protects your dog from the Bordetella bronchispectica bacterial agent that causes kennel cough. While this is the most common agent responsible for kennel cough, it’s definitely not the only one, which is why your dog can still contract kennel cough even with the vaccine. Still, it’s good to have your dog current on his Bordetella vaccine before boarding at a kennel to help minimize the risk.

When your dog comes back from boarding, be sure to wash everything he had with him – toys, blankets, bed, in hot water (bleach is good) to kill any viruses that may have hitched a ride back from the kennel.

So How to Do I Know Which One My Dog Has?

So if your dog looks like he is coming down with something, a vet visit may be in order if you think its kennel cough, but he will probably recover from a common cold on his own, as long as they are an otherwise healthy dog. But how can you be sure? You can’t really. Watch the severity and think about where your dog just was. If he was with a lot of dogs, it could be kennel cough. If he has been at home and just seems a bit run-down, a few days rest may be all he needs to beat the common cold. If he doesn’t get better in those first few days, time to visit the vet.

In both cases, a natural remedy can help boost your dog’s immune system and get them feeling better quicker. A mixture of elderberry, honey and liquid Colloidal Silver can really help fight off an infection. Be sure to ask your vet about proper dosages, but usually just a drop or two of Colloidal Silver, mixed with a tablespoon of elderberry juice or jam (no sugar added!) and a spot of honey works well for a medium-sized dog.

Regardless of which your dog ends up having, however, just know that neither are life-threatening and while, annoying, even kennel cough goes away eventually, and your best friend will be ready for those long walks again

How Diet Can Help Manage Your Dog’s Thyroid Condition

How Diet Can Help Manage Your Dog’s Thyroid Condition

Located in your dog’s neck and responsible for important hormones that play a vital role in keeping the metabolism functioning properly, the thyroid gland is an important for your dog’s whole system health, which is why a thyroid condition can really wreak havoc. There are three conditions that can occur when the thyroid gland is not working correctly:

Hypothyroidism. This occurs when the gland does not create enough hormones, slowing down the metabolism. This is the most common type found in dogs.

Hyperthyroidism. Is the opposite of hypothyroidism, meaning the body is producing too much hormone, increasing the metabolism’s speed to a dangerous rate. This is rare in dogs, but very serious. A type of cancer is usually the cause of hyperthyroidism.

Autoimmune Thyroiditis. This is when the autoimmune system attacks the thyroid gland. It seems to be genetic with some breeds predisposed to it, including the Akita, Beagle, Doberman and Golden Retriever. This disease often manifests as hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is the most common type that commonly develops in dogs as they age. There are many medications that veterinarians can prescribe that do a great job controlling the disease and allowing your dog to live a relatively healthy life.

You can also help control your dog’s thyroid naturally by changing his diet to a more “thyroid friendly” diet.

Diet Changes and Thyroid

We all know that the metabolism is directly related to food processing, so it only makes sense that if your dog’s metabolism is slow, he needs his food intake adjusted. What you feed your dog and how can really make a difference for hypothyroid dogs.

First, cut down on their food intake. Since their body is processing it slower, more food equals more weight gain.

Next, feed smaller meals more often. This will help the metabolism to not feel overworked. 3 or 4 smaller meals is much better than 1 or even 2 larger ones for the thyroid dog. Also, since thyroid dogs always act hungry, this will help them feel happier, since they are getting fed more.

Vets recommended searching for foods that only contain natural preservatives (mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), citric acid (vitamin C), and rosemary extract) such as Stay Loyal.

Natural Additives that Aid…

Next, there are things you can add to your dog’s diet to help boost the thyroid gland and support the metabolism.

More vegetables, especially those high in fiber. Since your dog’s metabolism is slow, chances are your vet recommended you feed less food, to try and keep their weight down. Adding more vegetables to your dog’s diet, such as high fiber greens like broccoli, can help your dog feel full in between meals.

Sea kelp helps support the thyroid gland. It’s full of iodine, which is something the thyroid gland needs in order to produce those important hormones.

Selenium deficiency can be another cause of thyroid trouble, so a selenium supplement may help as well.

Maca root helps with weight loss.

Fenugreek. If your dog happens to have Autoimmune Thyroiditis, fenugreek inhibits the T3 and T4 hormone levels which are responsible for the disease.

There are glandular supplements created to support gland heath. They are varied and some work for some dogs, but don’t work for others. Ask your vet about which ones they would recommend for your particular dog’s diagnosis and try it for at least 30 days. If it doesn’t work, you may need to try another one. Be sure to tell your vet if you are going to try any of the above supplements, to make sure nothing counteracts the prescription medication and/or you don’t overdose on supplements.

The good news is, between veterinary prescriptions and the correct diet, your hypothyroidism dog can live a pretty normal life.

Help for the Car Sick Dog

Help for the Car Sick Dog

Having a dog that gets car sick can really put a damper on the fun you have together. After all, no one wants to take the dog along if they know it means cleaning up vomit from inside the vehicle. So much for a joy ride – these pups find no fun in an outing in the car! Luckily, for almost all dogs, this is fixable.

What Causes Car Sickness in Dogs?

For most dogs, it’s actually anxiety about the ride or the car that causes them to get sick. This fear-based vomiting is usually found in dogs that are naturally more anxious about their environment or have not been on many car rides. (And for some, it may develop because the only time they get in the car is to go somewhere they don’t like, such as the vet or groomers, so the car becomes associated with bad experiences). For some reason, this anxiety paired with movement equals sickness. And now that they get sick in the car, it adds to the negative association!

Car Sick Remedies for the Fearful Dog

So, this means the best remedy is to take the anxiety or fear out of the ride itself for these dogs. A bit of training and some management may solve the problem altogether. Here are some ways you can work on this with your dog.

De-sensitize them to the car using counter conditioning. Using praise/rewards (or a clicker and treats) reward your dog for looking at the car. If your dog is really nervous, you may have to start several feet away from the car before she will feel comfortable enough to eat. Gradually move closer over the course of training sessions as your dog feels more comfortable. Soon, your dog will start equating the car with good things. YAY! This is just the start.

Just like crate training, teaching your dog to get in the car on their own, and for a reward, can help ease their anxiety about it. Once you can get right next to the car using the above counter conditioning technique, open a door and reward your dog for any movement toward the car. Once they are jumping in and out, you can put a cue to it if you wish, such as “load.”

Strengthening the behavior. Once your dog is getting in and out of the car with no sign of nervousness, start working on them staying in the car for longer and longer periods. Play tug in the car, feed them their meals in the car – anything that will associate the car with good things.

Build up Ride Time. Once they are comfortable in the car with no movement, start with short, smooth rides around the block, and gradually build up to longer rides.

The use of an anxiety wrap (such as a Thundershirt) can also help a dog that is anxious in the car not get car sick. Many of them have a money back guarantee, so there is no harm in trying one for a few weeks to see if it helps.

Management for Dogs without Fear

Then there are those dogs that are confident, bold and seem to really want to go with out on the car ride…but they still end up covered in ropy drool, or worse, vomiting. The above training may also help them, along with the Thundershirt, but most likely you will need to manage them to reduce the risk of getting car sick, like you would a child.

  • Don’t feed right before a trip. You may want to forgo feeding your dog his meal closest to departure. That way he well have less in his stomach if he does get sick. Try not to have them eat any closer than two hours to from your departure time. You may find with your dog that that time needs to be longer, depending on their digestive system.
  • Water. Just like people who get nauseous, having water available may help your car sick dog.
  • Fresh air. Leave windows slightly open to provide fresh air to your dog.
  • Frequent stops. On long trips, plan on stopping frequently to give your dog a break.

Following these tips should help your dog get over his car sickness so he can join our on joy rides. And we are pretty sure it will make the trip more enjoyable for you as well.