By Sherri Romig CPDT-KA
Kennel cough is a viral infection that passes easily between dogs, especially in stressful environments. It typically takes about 8-10 days after exposure for symptoms to develop, including sneezing, runny eyes or nose, and of course, a dry horrible-sounding cough.
While in rare cases kennel cough can become complicated, it is primarily a self-limiting illness, similar to the common cold, and will clear up in 10-14 without issue.
Because it is primarily a viral infection (in some cases, it can be bacterial), antibiotics typically will not help. However, there are some things you can do to help limit the infection and ease the symptoms while your dog heals.
When you first notice symptoms, fast your dog for 24 hours. This allows the body to concentrate its energy reserves to fight off infection, rather than digestion. During this time make sure there is plenty of fresh filtered water available, and you can give the dog an herbal cough syrup. (Over-the-counter, or make your own by mixing herbal tea with raw organic honey.)
Homeopathic treatment should also be started at the first sign of symptoms. Choices include:
Drosera- primary remedy for kennel cough
Aconite- for dogs who are fevered, thirsty, anxious
Belladonna- sudden onset of symptoms, fever, chills, sweating through feet pads
A popular and effective home remedy is to mix 3 drops of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of honey in 8oz of filtered drinking water and give to the dog.
Run a humidifier filled with mullein tea in the dog’s room, or let him sit in the bathroom with a hot shower running to help sooth irritated throats.
Grapefruit seed extract mixed in a spray bottle can be used as a disinfectant to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Useful herbs include primarily Echinacea and Astragalus for an immune boost, and Mullein and Thyme to help soothe and suppress coughing. You might also try Licorice Root or Slippery Elm Bark for soothing and suppressing coughs. Remember to use whole herbs, not extracts.