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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



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