- Initial diagnosis may often be made from the clinical history. Usually there is a history of recent exposure (e.g. boarding kennels, or rescue kennels), and cases often occur in the summer months when boarding kennel populations are at their peak.
- Vaccination history is useful for helping rule out specific infections, particularly distemper, but it should be remembered that kennel cough is usually multifactorial.
- If the condition does not appear to be infectious, then less common causes of coughing should be considered (e.g. congestive heart failure, allergies, parasites, foreign bodies, etc.).
- Specific viral or bacterial diagnosis is probably not necessary, but can be attempted if required from nasal, pharyngeal or tracheal swabs taken into appropriate transport medium and sent to a specialist laboratory for culture
- Paired serum samples demonstrating rising antibody titres may be used to diagnose B. bronchiseptica infection and some of the virus infections. However vaccinated dogs will already have titres, which can make interpretation difficult In practice it is difficult to obtain the first serum sample soon enough, unless sample is available from a susceptible in-contact dog.
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