Can humans catch kennel cough? Recently a reader asked the question.
I wanted to write an article concerning this specifically because it's a question that often comes up among dog owners and breeders.
The answer is that yes, humans have been known to catch kennel cough from their dogs, although it happens very rarely.
Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is the name given to an upper respiratory infection that spreads easily from dog to dog in confined spaces, such as kennels. Most diseases will not pass from animals to humans, with the exception of a few, and kennel cough is one of those that can, at times, infect humans who are in constant close proximity with their dogs.
Kennel cough symptoms closely mirrors the human disease called acute bronchitis. One of the main symptoms of kennel cough is a dry, raspy cough, which can last for weeks if you don't provide proper dog first aid when you first notice the symptoms.
The cough will be constant and might sound like there's something stuck in your dog's throat, so you aren't likely to miss the early causes of kennel cough.
Some severe cases of kennel cough might come with eye or nasal discharge, as well as a marked decrease in appetite, green mucous, and a slight fever. The actual cause of the disease can come from either bacteria or a virus, but what causes kennel cough is a specific bacteria known as Bodetella bronchiseptica, which will set up residence in the upper respiratory tract.
In cases caused by a viral infection, the most common culprit is the parainfluenza virus. It's extremely contagious and will spread quickly.
A lot of kennels keep the dogs bunched up together in small spaces, which is the perfect breeding ground for the virus. You can bet that if one dog in a kennel has kennel cough, every dog has kennel cough.
The same is true for animals that live together at home.
One of your dogs might catch the disease from another dog in the park or out on the street, and he will quickly spread it to the other four-legged members of the household.
So back to the original question, can humans catch kennel cough? As mentioned, it does happen but it's pretty rare. You have to spend quite awhile in a confined space with an infected dog for the bacteria to make its way to you.
Even so, it's always advisable to keep your distance from any dog that shows symptoms of kennel cough. In your home, keep the dog separated from any other animals and only visit him to change his food and water.
You might want to keep the dog in a crate that's large enough for him to lie down in. Individuals with weak immune systems are especially susceptible to contracting kennel cough, and that goes double for small children and infants who have an immune system that isn't fully developed. The best route is to visit your vet immediately and keep your dog quarantined until he's cured.