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    What Is Kennel Cough?

    September 14, 2021 | 3 min read

    Updated September 14, 2021



    Published: September 14, 2021
    Updated: February 9, 2022

    Summary: In this blog, we discuss all things kennel cough. We’ll discover what causes kennel cough in dogs, the symptoms to look for, the treatment for kennel cough, and how to prevent it… 


    What Is Kennel Cough?

    Kennel Cough (or canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It’s very similar to a human chest infection, and a number of different viruses and bacteria types can cause kennel cough in dogs.

    What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like In Dogs?

    Kennel Cough is quite distinctive as the cough is strong, hacking, and forceful and often results in a honking sound, gag, or swallowing motion. It can be dry, hoarse, or result in mucus.

    Other Kennel Cough Symptoms

    The most apparent symptom of kennel cough is the honking, fierce cough. But other symptoms may accompany it. These include:

    a large, Tall gray sits in the middle of a road. One side is lined with trees, the other is a large hard-wire sport net fence with lights at the top

    How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?

    Dogs typically contract kennel cough in places like dog parks, training groups, doggy daycare, boarding, and dog shows - so places where lots of dogs can be at one time. They spread it to each other through airborne droplets, sharing contaminated surfaces (like food and water bowls) and when they make direct contact with each other.


    Thankfully, kennel cough is very easy to treat but if you have a puppy that’s less than 6 months old, a senior dog, or a dog who’s immunocompromised, the infection can develop quite severely and in some cases can become pneumonia. The severity of kennel cough also depends on which bacteria or virus has caused the condition. 

    In most cases, a dog will recover from kennel cough by themselves within 3 weeks but it can sometimes hang around for anything up to 6 weeks. To help ease recovery, your vet can prescribe cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories. Always phone your vet for advice if you suspect kennel cough, as they may decide they want to physically assess them. Sometimes conditions like canine distemper virus and canine influenza can start off with symptoms very similar to kennel cough as well as other conditions that cause coughing in dogs like bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, or even a collapsing trachea.  

    However, be mindful not to let your dog wait in the vet waiting room as they’ll be very contagious - ask your vet where they’d like you to wait for the appointment!

    If you have more than one dog at home, it is very likely all dogs will be infected with kennel cough.

    Home Remedies

    There are some home remedies for kennel cough you can try to help ease your dog’s recovery from it:

    • Keep your home well ventilated
    • Use a harness over a collar and leash, as a collar can aggravate their windpipe even more
    • Keep your dog away from other dogs and areas dogs typically are found in until the cough has stopped
    a long-haired, brown, white and gray Rough Collie dog on a sidewalk


    Most dogs are vaccinated against some of the viruses and bacteria that can cause kennel cough in their puppy vaccinations. However, the most common kennel cough-causing bacteria is Bordetella bronchiseptica which can be administered as a separate vaccine but does not guarantee 100% protection. But, if your dog were to contract it, this vaccine should make symptoms more manageable. 

    Ask your vet about the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination (which is usually administered nasally but also available orally or in an injectable form), which can be administered from as young as 3 weeks old and lasts for 6 months to a year. 

    If you’re considering leaving your dog in a boarding facility, attend group dog training, or utilize doggy daycare this vaccine may be a requirement of the kennel or facility before they’ll accept your dog. This vaccine may be beneficial to show dogs or dogs who participate regularly in canine sporting events too.

    Vaccination is not effective or recommended for a dog currently with kennel cough.

    Is Kennel Cough Contagious To Humans?

    Generally, no, humans can’t catch kennel cough from dogs. However, if a human is immunocompromised, they may become infected with the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica which is just one of the bacteria types that can cause kennel cough, but this is very rare. 


    "Kennel Cough" Blue Cross, Dec 09. 2021

    "Kennel Cough in Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention" American Kennel Club, Jan 23. 2019

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    The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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