One of the first and most important steps in treating pets with kennel cough is to isolate them from other non-symptomatic pets. Most dogs and cats with kennel cough recover completely within a few weeks with or without medical treatment. If your pet has a good appetite and is alert, but only suffers from a recurrent cough, your veterinarian will probably let the infection run its course, just as doctors do with common colds in people. Mild over-the-counter cough suppressants such as Mucinex cough medicine for children may help keep pets comfortable. Temaril-P can also be used to treat itching and coughing symptoms in dogs. Keeping pets in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar may also help decrease the coughing. Sometimes veterinarians will nebulize pets at home by exposing them to humidified air a few times a day. This can be accomplished through the use of nebulizers, or by running the shower and making the bathroom steamy.
In more serious cases when your pet is not eating, running a fever, or showing signs of pneumonia, your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics. Examples of common antibiotics used in serious cases are Doxycycline, Trimethoprim-sulfa, Clavamox, or Baytril. Even cured pets may still be contagious to other pets, since pets infected with Bordatella can shed bacteria for 6-10 weeks.
Several potentially effective supplements may help lessen the duration and severity of kennel cough in dogs and cats. Echinacea and Goldenseal are two common Western herbs that may help boost the immune system against bacteria and viruses. Elderberry is also another wonderful, highly effective herb against kennel cough. Another recommended herbal supplement, Olimune, by the company Animal Apothecary, is an olive leaf-based extract that is highly effective against most causative agents of kennel cough. Giving your pet extra vitamin C and DMG, such as Vetri-DMG, may also help decrease the duration of infection.
There are two to three types of vaccinations on the market for the prevention of kennel cough in pets. The injectable vaccination has not proven to be effective and is therefore not recommended. The intranasal vaccination containing both parainfluenza and Bordatella is also available but not recommended. This vaccine creates localized immunity that supposedly reduces the incidence of clinical signs and illness but many pets develop mild to more serious upper respiratory signs when given the live intranasal vaccination. Because kennel cough complex can be caused by so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses, vaccinations are not effective. They are also not effective in treating active infections.
The most effective prevention against kennel cough infection is to keep pets healthy on a good natural pet food diet, minimize unnecessary chemical and toxic exposure, and avoid overvaccination. Giving your pet good vitamins such as VitaChews and Omega 3 fatty acids also helps keep the immune system functioning optimally.