Unraveling the Mysteries: Distemper and Kennel Cough in Dogs

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Distemper and Kennel Cough in Dogs


Being a pet parent comes with a sea of responsibilities, one of which includes understanding potential health threats to your canine companion. Distemper and kennel cough often stir confusion among dog owners. Let’s demystify these conditions and illuminate their differences.

Delving into Distemper

Distemper, while severe and contagious, is a condition dog owners must be aware of to ensure the health of their pets.

Roots of Distemper

The canine distemper virus (CDV) is the main perpetrator behind distemper. Beyond dogs, this virulent enemy can also make wild animals like raccoons and ferrets its victims. The virus generally spreads when a dog comes into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected creature.

Spotting the Signs of Distemper

Distemper’s symptoms can be deceptive. Initial indicators might be as subtle as a slight fever or nasal discharge. However, as the disease gains momentum, dogs may exhibit neurological signs, including tremors and seizures.

Combatting Distemper

While no direct cure exists for distemper, supportive treatments can alleviate some symptoms. Vaccinations stand as the primary shield against this disease, emphasizing the importance of keeping them current.

Deciphering Kennel Cough

Despite its seemingly benign name, kennel cough is a condition warranting attention.

The Genesis of Kennel Cough

Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria are often the main culprits behind kennel cough, though viruses can occasionally contribute. The term “kennel cough” finds its origins from the fact that outbreaks commonly arise in locations with dense dog populations, like doggy daycares or parks.

Recognizing Kennel Cough in Action

Imagine your dog having a version of the human cold. The most telling sign is a robust, persistent cough, which might be accompanied by other symptoms like sneezing or a mild fever.

Tackling Kennel Cough

While kennel cough often heals naturally, veterinarians might prescribe antibiotics or cough suppressants to ease the symptoms. Preventing kennel cough can be achieved through timely vaccinations.

Drawing the Distinction

On the surface, distemper and kennel cough may seem twins, but they have defining characteristics.

  • Modes of Spread: While both are infectious, distemper can spread through various bodily fluids, whereas kennel cough is primarily airborne.
  • Intensity and Aftereffects: Distemper typically packs a harder punch, potentially causing life-threatening complications. In contrast, kennel cough, though distressing, is typically milder.
  • Vaccine Priorities: Both conditions have vaccine preventions. However, due to its potentially lethal nature, distemper’s vaccine is often emphasized more.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge about distemper and kennel cough equips us to better protect our furry family members. As the adage goes, “Knowledge is the best defense.”


Do distemper and kennel cough have fatal potential?

While distemper carries a higher mortality risk, kennel cough is generally milder but can have complications.

How can I shield my dog from these ailments?

Frequent vet visits, timely vaccinations, and preventing contact with infected animals remain the best precautions.

Are there overlapping symptoms?

Yes, both might result in coughing and fever, but the intensity and additional symptoms can differ.

What’s the duration of these diseases?

Kennel cough typically subsides within weeks. Distemper, however, can be more prolonged and unpredictable.

Are cats vulnerable to these diseases?

Cats remain immune to canine distemper. However, they can catch a strain of kennel cough termed feline bordetella.

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