What are the risks of kennel cough?

(Q) My dog's just been diagnosed with kennel cough. Is there anything I can do to help him recover quickly? How can I stimulate him while he's getting better? Playing with his toys makes him cough. The vet suggested the kennel cough vaccine. Could you tell me more about it?

(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Kennel cough is a nasty respiratory infection that commonly causes symptoms including a cough, a discharge from the eyes and nose, and a high temperature. Affected dogs are very infectious, and can take weeks to recover completely. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial elements of this, and anti-inflammatories to ease pain and inflammation and relieve high temperatures. Anti-cough medication may also be useful.

At home you can help your dog by keeping him quiet and avoiding excessive exercise. Letting him lick a little honey off a spoon can also help to ease a sore throat.

Once your dog has recovered completely, he will have a little natural immunity but this might not last long. Some of the elements of kennel cough are vaccinated against in a dog's normal booster, but a bordetella (the main component of kennel cough) vaccine is also available. I would recommend this for dogs who go out and mix a lot, as well as those who stay in boarding kennels. This vaccine is given up the nose, and needs to be repeated yearly.