Avoiding Kennel Cough

Boarding kennels take some heat over kennel cough, an upper-respiratory infection that's as contagious as sniffles in a daycare center. In fact, some kennel operators even find the name a little pejorative, insisting that the ailment be called by its proper name, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or even bordetella, after its most common causative agent.

And maybe that's fair, because dogs can pick up kennel cough any place they come into contact with a dog who has it — and that means anywhere. Parks, dog shows, the waiting room of your veterinarian's office, or the fund-raising dog walk thrown by your local humane society — these are all possibilities for infection.

Fortunately, the ailment is not usually serious, even though the dry, bellowing cough can sound simply awful. For most dogs, the disease runs its course in a couple of weeks; others, especially yappy dogs who keep the airways irritated, may develop an infection requiring antibiotics. See your veterinarian for advice; he may recommend nothing more than over-the-counter cough suppressant and rest.

Although not completely effective against the disease, a vaccine is available against the ailment. A boarding kennel should demand proof of it; be prepared to show a copy of your vaccination records when you deliver your dog to the kennel.

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