Common causes of kennel cough
When a dog begins to cough, it is usually a symptom of an underlying condition affecting his respiratory system. But a cough can be caused by a wide variety of problems that can be divided into four basic categories: autoimmune problems and inflammatory conditions, infectious agents, aging and degenerative conditions, and congenital conditions.
Autoimmune and inflammatory causes of kennel cough
Allergies and asthma are two major causes of coughing in this category. Like humans, a dog can have an allergic reaction to a variety of triggers, including certain foods, vaccines, medications, fleas, second-hand smoke, and other environmental allergens.
Asthma, which can affect any age and breed of dog, is found more commonly in younger dogs, and its symptoms are usually at their worst during exercise or periods of very cold or hot weather. When a dog has asthma, he will have increased difficulty inhaling, which often results in a wheezing sound. An asthma attack is usually followed by an outbreak of coughing.
Infectious causes of kennel cough
Infection can be the result of four types of agents: viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. In many cases, kennel cough is a sign of a more serious problem, such as an infectious disease such as canine strain virus, heartworm disease, pneumonia, valley fever, and of course, kennel cough.
Canine virus is a very serious disease that can be fatal because there is currently no cure. However, there is a vaccination available that will help protect your pet against this infectious disease. Symptoms of moodiness include lethargy, cough, fever, decreased appetite, tremors, and seizures.
Heartworm disease is caused by a worm between eight and ten inches in diameter that lives in your dog’s heart. She then produces microscopic larvae that enter her dog’s bloodstream. Common symptoms of this disease include a persistent cough, weakness, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Left untreated, heartworm can cause heart failure and severe lung disease.
Pneumonia often develops after a dog has had a prolonged bout of respiratory illness or has a suppressed immune system. Along with a persistent cough, symptoms usually include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and nasal discharge.
Valley fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. The spores enter a dog’s respiratory system when inhaled, and once infected, the disease can affect a dog’s heart, skin, skeletal system, respiratory system, and central nervous system. Valley fever is found mostly in the southwestern United States.
Of all the infectious diseases related to kennel cough, tracheobronchitis or kennel cough is the most common and least dangerous. This disease causes a dog to have a dry, spasmodic cough, often followed by retching or vomiting. Other symptoms include runny nose and eyes and decreased appetite.
Geriatric and degenerative causes of kennel cough
There are several age-related conditions that can cause coughing fits in a dog, including congestive heart failure, laryngeal paralysis, and certain types of cancers.
Congestive heart failure may affect dogs of any age but it usually occurs in late middle age for senior pets. This condition is most commonly caused by a leaking heart valve. In some cases, a puppy may be born with a leaky valve, and when this happens, the animal will begin to show signs of congestive heart failure much earlier. The most common symptoms of congestive heart failure are coughing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance.
When a dog has laryngeal paralysis, it can be difficult for him to breathe comfortably because the drapes on the inside of his throat don’t move as far on inhalation. This condition occurs due to the deterioration of the function of the laryngeal nerve, which mainly paralyzes the larynx. Although this condition can affect any breed, it is most commonly found in large and giant breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, St. Bernards, and Great Danes.
Lung cancer is another age-related disease that can cause kennel cough. Passive smoking is a major predisposing factor. This may also occur as a metastasis from a cancer found in another part of the body.
Breeds prone to kennel cough
Some breeds are genetically predisposed to suffering from a collapsed trachea. This condition most commonly affects brachycephalic breeds, or those with short noses and “push-in” faces. These strains include:
- Japanese chin
- Boxer shorts
- French bulldog
- American bulldog
- Boston dogs
- Brussels Griffith
- Bugles (pug and poodle mix)
Congenital causes of kennel cough in these breeds tend to appear when the dog is still fairly young, in some cases, as young as three years old. Weight may also play a role – if your dog is overweight, his chance of developing tracheal collapse and canine cough increases.
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