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Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a common disease of dogs and rarely of cats. It is most commonly caused by the Bordetella bacterium (dogs and cats) or the adenovirus (dogs) or parainfluenza virus (dogs). Usually, kennel cough occurs as a result of exposure to infected pets, through boarding, although this is not necessary for a pet to develop kennel cough.

Clinical signs include coughing, gagging, and retching; many owners mistakenly believe their pets are choking on something. Vaccination is available to decrease the incidence of disease.

Principal Natural Treatment Homeopathic Nosodes
Nosodes, a special type of homeopathic remedy, are prepared from infectious organisms such as distemper virus and Staphylococcus bacteria. Remember that no matter what the source of the remedy, the actual ingredients are diluted in preparing the remedy. No measurable amount of the original source for the remedy remains, only the vital energy or life force, which imparts healing properties to the remedy. No harm will come to your pet regardless of the toxicity of the original compound used in the preparation of the remedy.

But do nosodes work? Some doctors seem to prefer nosodes manufactured by specific homeopathic pharmacies, as they feel there is a definite difference in the ability of nosodes to stimulate the immune system. In their opinions, the manufacturer of the nosode is important and some vaccination nosodes work better than others.

To prevent disease, nosodes are supposed to work in the same manner as conventional vaccines, namely by stimulating antibodies to fight off infections. Nosodes have been reported to control outbreaks of infectious disease in animals in a kennel situation. While good controlled studies are lacking, homeopathic veterinarians have reported success in some patients when treating infectious disease with the homeopathic nosodes.

Other Natural Treatments
The same general recommendations made for pets with any infectious disease can be tried, including natural diets, antioxidants, orthomolecular therapy, colloidal silver, neem, olive leaf extract, herbs: aloe vera, astragalus, echinacea, garlic, ginger, gotu kola, licorice, marshmallow, Oregon grape, sage, St. John's wort, turmeric, yarrow, reishi and maitake mushrooms. These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies as needed. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not all been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.

As with any condition, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet's overall health.

Conventional Therapy
Treatment with antibiotics, corticosteroids, and antitussives (cough suppressants) are the mainstay of therapy for pets with kennel cough.

Shawn Messonnier, DVM

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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!

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