Putting a dog in kennels is very stressful as they cannot know if or when you are coming back. All they know is that you have put them in a kennel and walked away. They usually bark and bark, trying to attract your attention in the hope that you’ll come back for them.
The combination of barking, breathing harder and faster than usual, and the stress of the whole situation renders them vulnerable to any infectious agents in their environment. Barking excessively makes their throat more inflamed than usual providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Having lots of dogs in the same air space all in the same state of anxiety makes them all more vulnerable to air borne diseases, especially kennel cough.
The Symptoms Of Kennel Cough
Coughing almost continuously in bouts, rather like Whooping cough in children, is the main symptom. Dogs will often cough until they wretch and bring up some white phlegm. The cough is usually worse with exercise and excitement. Affected dogs are usually well in themselves, showing no other symptoms. This cough can go on for about three weeks.
How Do We Treat Kennel Cough?
Most ailments are healed more quickly in a calm, quiet, restful, loving environment, so keep your dogs calm and quiet. Avoid exercise and dust, and definitely keep them out of draughts and cold air.
Give them plenty of loving attention to reduce any stress, especially as these dogs have usually just returned home having been stressed in kennels for a week or two.
Make sure there is always clean, chemical-free water available at all times. They often want a drink after each bout of coughing.
Manuka honey, a teaspoonful four times daily, can give some relief from the coughing.
Aloe Vera is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be given by mouth from a plastic syringe six times daily. The amount required depends on the size of your dog. A small dog would need about 5 mls, a medium dog about 10 mls and a big dog 15-20 mls. It is hard to generalize as the different preparations have different strengths. Pukka seems to be an excellent make, with no horrible chemicals, so that’s the one I use and recommend.
Give Their Immune System A Helping Hand
Boost their immune system by adding a superb nutritional supplement (like Pet Plus) to their food. This will help their body’s defense system to overcome the infectious agents.
Feed raw food so the body doesn’t have to waste valuable energy trying to digest the processed pet foods. This will allow the immune system to do its proper job of attacking invaders, instead of being side-tracked breaking down food particles in the blood (digestive leucocytosis).
We used to give a three week course of antibiotics which sometimes worked, but I can now see that as kennel cough is usually over in three weeks anyway, that’s a classic example of the dogs recovering in spite of the treatment, not because of it!
Minimize Separation Anxiety
If you have to put your dog in kennels, do everything you can to help to reduce the stress of the experience. For example, you could introduce them to it gently by leaving them there for half a day, then the next week, a whole day and gradually increase it so your dog knows you are going to return and collect them.