As anyone who’s ever adopted or fostered a dog from a crowded, urban,municipal animal shelter knows, there’s a good chance your dog will come home with a case of kennel cough, with symptoms ranging from mild (wheezing) to severe (hacking and puking).
Please don’tletfear of kennel coughdeter you from adopting a dog at akill shelter in your homecity – it can’t spread to humans, only to other dogs.
Butkennel coughdoes require some smartsto treat, so that it goes away as quickly as possible. This is especially important if you have other dogs at home; even if you isolate the sick dog in a crate, the virus is airborne and will find its way to your other dogs (but happily, not to cats).
Antibiotics are the go-toprescription of conventional veterinarians, but although ABsbravely fightinfection, they don’t really work against viruses -so they don’t quite kill the cough.
Five years ago, one of my rescued pit bullscame to me withsuch avirulent case of kennel cough that the pitiable hacking went on for aboutsix weeks. That poor baby was – like most pits -a modelpatient, submitting cooperatively every time he had to be medicated. It’s a good thing we supplementedhis care regimen with megadoses of manuka honey, for its antibacterial property, or that cough would very likely have continued for six more weeks!
Since I’m always on the lookout for alternative remedies to keep my dogshealthy (and keep my vet bills low), I started getting creative with kennel cough treatment, especially when I noticed that subsequent dogs that came to me withsymptoms thatdidn’t respond as well to honey. Then one day, while I was on the telephone toNew Mexico,interviewingthe very wise veterinarian Dr. Hugh Wheir, I found a formula that really works.
Dr. Wheir heard hacking in the background; I explained that the source of the noise wasmy recent rescue, Lady, a pretty little white pit bull I’d agreed tofoster. The vet asked me what she was taking, and I told him the antibiotic prescribed by she shelter’s staff vet, plus honey. He said that was fine, butadded some very valuable expert advice: “I always tell my clients to give the same coughsyrup to a dog with kennel cough that they would takefor a cough themselves,” Dr. Wheir said.
I’d never thought of this before, but it makes perfect sense. Dogs really aren’t that different from us humans.
I happened to have the brilliant homeopathic remedy Umcka Cold Care, byNature’s Way,on hand. I’ve kept ahealthy supply of Umcka productsat homeever since thebitterly coldday back in February 2008 when I awoke with a brutal case of the flu on the very morning I was expected to appear on Sirius XM radio first thing, then proceed to Madison Square Garden to cover the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
I was sick as a dog, but Umcka enabled me to speak coherently on the air and get through the rest of thatday; it alsoshortened the duration and reduced the severity of my illness to help speed recovery- just as the package promised it would. Plus, it tasted great, in pleasantly natural candy flavors like Mixed Berry and Orange. Why shouldn’t it work just as well for a dog? So when Dr. Wheir recommended giving my kennel-cough K9 some cough syrup made for humans, I immediatelythought of Umcka Soothing Syrup, in cherry flavor.
Just to be sure, I got a second opinion, checking out the cough syrup’singredients with veterinaryhomeopath Dr. Jill Elliot. She vetted the ingredient listand gave her blessing to go ahead and administer Umcka to my dog. Incidentally,Umcka’s active ingredient isa pretty and potent flower, Pelargonium sidoides, that has its origins in traditional South African folk medicine. Word of this power flower’sability to healspread to Europe, where it gainedpopularity as a cold remedy. Now, Umcka is widely available here in America; look for it at Whole Foods stores or your local health food place.
I continued with the antibiotics Lady had been prescribed – since I’d already started her on them, we had to stay the course – but I also gave her probiotic acidophilusevery day, a fewhours after she took the ABs, tohelp maintain healthybalance in her gut (this helps the immune system fight off disease).
Most importantly, I gave Lady five daily doses of Umcka, using a syringe to carefullymeasure out each dose and gently squirt it into her mouth (after which I closed her snout and gently massaged her throat, to ensure that all got swallowed). The directions say to give one teaspoon 4-5 times daily to an adult or child, so that’s exactly what I gave Ms. Dog, whowas extremely Lady-like andtolerant when it came time to accept yet another squirt of cherry-flavored syrup in her pretty mouth. (Love those patient pit bulls.) After five days, that cough was history. Thanks, Umcka!
Have you discovered any alternative remedies that help combat kennel cough? Please share them in the comments.