Can cats catch kennel cough from dogs?

YES, is the answer to the question. The phrase "kennel cough" refers to a respiratory infection caused by both bacteria and virus but the most common cause is the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. Cats can transmit this disease to dogs as well but my feeling is that this is rare. How many cats have bad coughs? Rare, I would say but I don't live with a cat and a dog. The disease transmits both ways. And between other species of animal. It is highly contagious. Cats and dogs in kennels, hence the name, are the most vulnerable because they are close together, confined to one place.

Cat coughing
Image: Warren Photographic published here with his permission.

Both cats and dogs can acquire kennel cough from a variety of microorganisms including parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, reovirus and the distemper virus. They might get it from mycoplasma. But as mentioned the most common cause is the Bordetella bacterium and if a cat is exposed to it in direct contact with an infected animal such as a dog, they might catch the disease.

When a cat gets it, they shed rod-shaped bacteria in their nasal secretions and saliva and when they sneeze, they shed fluid droplets containing the bacteria. Any other cat or dog nearby main inhale the infected droplets.

This is a highly contagious disease because if a dogs sneezes on some bedding a cat might then pick up the bacteria from that bedding later on. This is indirect transmission. In fact, indirect transmission is a common method of getting the disease. The bacteria can survive for 1-2 weeks on objects unless the area is rigorously disinfected under protocols suggested by your veterinarian.

Kennel cough affects the lungs, windpipe and voice box. It is not usually dangerous and it clears up without treatment within a few weeks but I suspect that veterinarians prescribe antibiotics.

Dogs with the disease might feel ill. Kennel cough has an incubation period of 2-14 days. Puppies and elderly dogs and animals with an existing condition may develop complications such as pneumonia.

A kennel cough vaccine is available and dogs staying in kennels are often required to take the vaccination.

Kennel cough sounds like a forceful hacking cough as if something is stuck in a dog's throat. It can be dry and hoarse and it might be followed by a gag and swallowing because of the production of mucus. A similar sound is made by reverse sneezing to which certain breeds are susceptible.

There might be associated sneezing and mucus discharge. The animal should retain their appetite. A veterinarian might prescribe cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories to make the animal more comfortable.

Veterinarians diagnose kennel cough by the symptoms and the circumstances under which they live. Swabs might be taken to determine the virus or bacteria.

Sources: numerous on the Internet but mainly veterinarian's websites for which I am thankful.

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