Just picked my dog up from boarding for a week and she has a bit of a cough and gagging sound. She was there for a week. I think this could be kennel cough. She had a Bordatella shot. Will this go away or should I call my vet?
Asked by Ellen, in Pleasant Hills, Maryland
Here is my answer;
It certainly sounds most consistent with kennel cough. Even with a vaccination (no vaccine is 100%) a dog can get the disease they were vaccinated for. I use the flu shot analogy when discussing this with my clients. Just because you are vaccinated for the (human) flu you can still get the flu. The hope is that if you do become exposed, and even infected, your body can mount a quicker and stronger immune response and hopefully you either will not, (or at least not get as), sick. This has on occasion caused great frustration with my clients who want to think of a vaccine as a shield of armor and either want us to reimburse boarding fees, or treat their dog at no cost. Hard as we try to protect every pet, it is impossible to thwart disease when you congregate a group of pets (or even humans) together.
The good news is that most vaccinated pets are covered under the vaccine manufacturers guarantee. This is applicable as long as your pet was vaccinated at the veterinary clinic, within the manufacturers suggested guidelines. So, yes, you should definitely call your vet to notify them. I want to know, and if one pet gets ill, I call all of the other dogs who boarded during the same time. I know my clients appreciate an honest proactive approach. If you were my client I would ask you to come in for an examination. We would take a weight, temp, listen to the lungs and discuss bloodwork, etc. In general, vaccinated healthy dogs will run the coughing course of the mild form of this disease and be fine in a week, or two. The biggest pets that I am concerned with are the very young, very old, or debilitated pets. They should be watched very closely.
As far as treatment for this goes, here is what I do;
If the coughing worsens, or causes the pet to not be able to sleep at night we prescribe a sedative, or cough suppressant (if the cough is dry and non-productive). If you cannot sleep you cannot heal.
If the coughing leads to vomiting we discuss i.v. fluids and hospitalization. Again, no rest no heal.
If the lungs sound wet and/or if the pet becomes quiet, subdued, lethargic, inappetant, or appears sick we take a chest x-ray looking for evidence of pneumonia and prescribe antibiotics and/or hospitalize.
In almost all cases our patients diagnostics (we do a buccal mucosal swab to identify the source of the infection) and treatments are covered by our vaccine manufacturer. It doesn't change the fact that your pet got sick, which we try very very hard to avoid, but it does help our clients with the financial burden of a sick pet.
Call your vet, have your pet seen, know what to look for with respect to any worsening of the illness, and have a plan. Also inquire about the vaccine guarantee.
I hope this helps, and I hope your dog gets better soon,
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