When a dog sounds like a goose

by Gwen Allen
If Rover’s cough lasts longer then 10 days, he may be suffering from more than a cold.

Like humans, canines and felines are susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Referring loosely to any cough in a dog, the term “kennel cough” is an actual condition caused by one or more organisms.

Craig Zabel, a veterinarian for Sugar Grove Animal Hospital, said most commonly, the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica is the culprit in an actual case of kennel cough, which results in a chronic case of coughing.

“It can be identified as a dry, hacking cough, and it sometimes sounds like a goose honking,” Zabel said. “It’s hard for them to stop (coughing) and really can’t be controlled. So they don’t sleep well and neither does their family. It’s really miserable.”

He said although there is no treatment, antibiotics are often given to control secondary infection.

“Sometimes their throat can get raw and irritated,” Zabel said. “So it can get infected, and that is something we can treat, but not the actual cough.”

The name kennel cough may have originally been given as it is easily transmitted from one dog to another, specifically in places like a kennel. Zebel said with one cough, the infected animal can spread the illness through the air to other animals. He said it can also spread when animals touch each other or when food, drink or toys are shared.

Ironically, he said a kennel is probably the last place a dog would catch the virus today, thanks to modern medicine.

“There is a vaccine, and kennel owners are now against boarding animals that are unvaccinated to point that they are pretty religious about it,” Zebel said. “The problem is once it gets into a community, it sticks around for awhile, because it spreads from dog to dog efficiently. They are more likely to catch it at a puppy class, the park or at the groomers.”

The vaccine, which costs approximately $16 at the Sugar Grove Animal Hospital, is still not widely used. Zebel said some owners are apprehensive, especially those who don’t feel that their pet is at risk.

“Some people don’t see the merit in vaccinating against an un-fatal disease,” Zabel said. “But since there is no way to treat it and once they have it, it has to run its course; it can be a real headache.”

Unless a dog is in isolation from other animals, specifically from other dogs, he said the vaccine is highly recommended.