My dog has kennel cough again. How should we proceed?
Original Question: I have a 13-year-old Black Labrador dog. About a month ago, she was hacking so I took her to the vet. The vet diagnosed it as kennel cough and gave me antibodies to combat the virus. After giving her the antibiotics she was fine. In the last week, I noticed my dog is hacking again (1-2 times a day). She’ll be resting on her dog bed and then starts to hack (like something is stuck in her throat)! I called to get my prescription for kennel cough refilled however the vet wants to see the dog again. The vet mentioned he can do X-rays to see if there are more issues. My dog eats regularly and has regular bowl movements. Instead of doing the X-rays is there another solution? - Shelby
Thanks for your question.
This concerns me. Kennel cough (infectious Tracheobronchitis) is a common problem and it can be pretty stubborn so sometimes a treatment with antibiotics for 7 or 10 days may not resolve the problem but it often does. The fact that it is persisting is a concern. Aside from trying another round of antibiotics, I have to agree that performing an X-ray is ideal. And just think if this is now an infection that is down in the lungs, as in pneumonia, this is a very serious condition. I do agree with your veterinarian.
The fact that you say that it sounds like something is stuck in the throat is a common way a client will explain the cough when it is kennel cough. So maybe you try another round of antibiotics first but I don’t want to needlessly delay the diagnosis. I also want to mention that with kennel cough, the infection can resolve and the cough will still stick around for a few days or a week because there is residual inflammation and irritation in the trachea that has yet to be resolved but will on its own once the infection is gone due to the antibiotic treatment. But there is too much time between the presentation of events. It’s also possible that your dog was simply exposed to kennel cough again and has another independent infection. Regardless, it’s much safer to assess this situation further with imaging because if it is worsening or due to other causes (heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, other infections, etc) then we’re really losing valuable time to treat it properly.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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