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Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough) in Dogs

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (ITB), also known as the kennel cough complex, refers to a group of acute contagious infectious respiratory diseases in dogs, which can cause inflammation of the larynx, trachea, bronchi and lung. The condition is especially common in unvaccinated, young dogs.

  • Acute tracheobronchitis indicates an inflammatory reaction in the airways. This inflammation usually causes variable increases in tracheobronchial secretions (mucus and "sputum") and a cough.

  • If respiratory clearance mechanisms or immunity are insufficient, pneumonia may develop from the primary infection or from secondary bacterial invaders. Some viruses and bacteria have a predilection for the nasal cavity and membranes of the eye (the conjunctiva), leading to signs of an upper respiratory infection similar to a human cold.

  • Common infectious agents responsible for tracheobronchitis in the dog include: Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterium); canine parainfluenza virus; canine adenoviruse-2; canine reovirus (a minor cause); and canine herpesvirus (infrequent to rare cause). Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacterial and canine parainfluenza virus is the most common viral isolate noted in dogs with canine infectious tracheobronchitis (ITB).

  • Canine distemper virus can mimic these signs and lead to widespread organ disease.

    In addition to infectious (contagious) causes of tracheobronchitis, other conditions of the upper and lower airways may cause signs similar to those of infectious tracheobronchial infection. Your veterinarian may need to perform tests to rule out some of these other conditions. This is particularly true if initial treatment of the condition does not lead to an appropriate response. The list of potential causes of these symptoms is very long. They include:

  • Pharyngitis (tonsillitis)
  • Oral infections with seeding of the tracheobronchial tree
  • Laryngeal swelling
  • Intestinal parasites (worms)undergoing lung migration
  • Fungal infections of the lung
  • Pneumonia
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Respiratory tract parasites
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Allergic bronchitis or chronic bronchitis
  • Foreign body inhalation (something really is stuck in the throat)
  • Heart disease
  • Lung or windpipe tumor or cancer
  • Trauma to the trachea (windpipe)

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