No one enjoys being sick and no one enjoys seeing their beloved dog sick either! As dog daycare owners we have had an influx of new pups -- pups that haven’t been exposed to other pups due to COVID. As a result, there seems to be a whole lot more canine cough going around than normal. However, pet parents, don’t stress -- you can keep your pup healthy and strong and avoid the dreaded hacking and removal from daycare (or worse you can’t take your long-awaited vacation). Keep reading to learn more about Kennel Cough (or really Canine Cough) and how to boost your dog’s immune system to keep it at bay!
What is Canine Cough?
Also known as Canine Respiratory Disease, Canine cough is a bit like the dog version of a common cold. It’s a respiratory infection caused by a number of different viruses. Canine Cough is generally not life-threatening and will clear up eventually. However it brings the risk of pneumonia and other complications for older dogs, puppies, or dogs with pre-existing health conditions, and if the cough isn’t treated. It’s important to be aware of your dogs’ medical history so that you’re able to take extra precautions where necessary.
The main symptom of canine cough, especially if your dog is in good health, is - you guessed it - a cough. Dog coughs come in many different forms but often sound as though your dog has something stuck in their throat. Some dogs may also experience a runny nose, sneezing, or eye discharge when they have a canine cough.
It’s important to understand that Canine Cough doesn’t reside in a building - it’s passed via dog-to-dog contact. While the Bordetella vaccine can help stave off those virus invaders - just like the flu shot - it only works for a couple of strains and there are hundreds going around!
It takes between 4-7 days from exposure to the time your pup will begin exhibiting symptoms. And while vets often prescribe an antibiotic -- canine cough is a viral infection - antibiotics can help with any secondary infections that might result due to bronchial tube irritation, but not with canine cough itself.
How to Prevent Canine Cough
There are several ways to boost your pup’s immune system so they don’t get sick. How do we know? Because our dogs are in daycare frequently, in fact my son’s puppy is in daycare every day, and despite exposure to dogs that have later come down with the infection - little Canine Paddy has remained virus free! The most effective protection your dog has against canine cough is their own immune system. Focusing on boosting their immune system is the best thing you can do to help prevent canine cough. There are countless immune boosters found in nature that can be given to your dog as supplements to support their immunity. For instance, mushrooms are naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and immunostimulating. But don’t just go feeding your dog mushrooms - some of them can harm your pup. We’ve already done the research for you to find the best dog-friendly mushroom blends available in our store to help prevent canine cough and avoid that trip to the vet!
Most of these come in a liver flavor that dog’s enjoy. Our dogs are on medicinal mushrooms year round. Try mixing powders into wet food, or drops into water to get your dog to take the supplements without fuss. Other supplements such as KC or Cough, Wheeze and Sneeze are must haves - to help prevent and deal with canine cough if it strikes.
The immune system is supported by the body and vice versa. Therefore, keeping on top of your dogs’ overall health is an important part of preventing kennel cough. We know we say it all the time, but your dogs’ diet is a huge factor in how often they’ll get sick. Your dog is what they eat. If you ate Frito’s all day, you wouldn’t be healthy. You may be able to do that for a while, but eventually, it catches up to you. Stick to natural ingredients (no synthetic dyed food made to look like veggies or appeal to the human eye), organic dog food that uses human-grade meat for the healthiest nutrition and the best results. Stay away from the most common allergy producers in dogs: chicken, legumes, chickpeas, peas, sweet potato. Don’t feed your dog if the food includes meat by-products, corn, corn gluten meal, and a lot of other things you can’t pronounce! Additionally, choose options that include natural immune-boosting ingredients like coconut, or add a little coconut oil to your pup’s meal. CoCo Therapy uses certified ALL organic coconuts that have been on the tree for 12 months, to give your pup the highest amount of lauric acid, which battles yeast, and immune-boosting properties. It's also great for preventing giardia from taking hold in your pup’s tummy! And, make certain that your dog is getting vitamins with a multivitamin that will help boost your dog’s overall health and immune system!
Exercise is also essential for your pup, including outdoor walks, or if you’re out of the house a lot, enroll your dog into doggy daycare to ensure that they are getting all the mental and physical stimulation they need.
What If My Dog Still Gets Canine Cough?
There are a number of ways to prevent canine cough. However, just as we’ve seen after washing our hands and wearing our masks for a year and a half, none of them are ever guaranteed to work. Infectious diseases are difficult to control and your dog could still get sick. Don’t panic if this happens. Most infections clear within 3 weeks. Get your hands on some herbal medicines to soothe symptoms. Additionally, keep your house well ventilated and avoid using collars and harnesses if possible, to prevent windpipe irritation. In general, monitor your dog’s condition and visit your holistic vet if the cough isn’t clearing up. Just remember that kennel cough is contagious, so avoid visiting with other dogs. As with any advice, there are no guarantees and the FDA hasn’t approved this message or the supplements. But if we can avoid the over-use of antibiotics, including with our pups, taking the alternate path is sometimes the right one!