Kennel Cough in Dogs

We are still learning about the intricacies of canine health disease, but we all know that Kennel cough is a serious concern for dogs as it easily spreads through the air. An uninfected dog who comes in contact with another infected dog with Kennel cough can contract the disease. However, in rare scenarios only, a person with a weak immune system can catch this disease (a slight relief for pet parents). But the fact that your furry companion is affected by a Kennel cough and is in pain will need veterinary attention.. In this blog, we will comprehensively learn more about symptoms, treatment, and everything about it.

What is Kennel Cough in dogs

What is Kennel Cough in dogs

Kennel cough, also clinically known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, is an airborne disease that affects the respiratory system of our canine companions. Initially, it was assumed that the disease was caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, but later its complex nature was revealed. It was found that nearly 20 other viruses and mycoplasms are also involved in causing Kennel cough. 

The kennel cough disease infiltrates the dog’s respiratory system, causing inflammation and irritation in the pup’s chest airway, leading to constant coughing and runny nose.

The disease usually spreads through the air and can be transmitted to other pets at home if you have one. But that is the last thing you want for your four-legged friend.

“Kennel cough is a term loosely used to describe a complex of respiratory infections—both viral and bacterial—that causes inflammation of a dog’s windpipe, large airways, and sometimes lungs,” says Dr. Maren Krafchik, DVM, director of medical operations at ASPCA Animal Hospital. “It’s a form of bronchitis and is similar to a chest cold in humans.”

How Kennel Cough is spread? 

Kennel cough usually spreads from the places where a large number of animals hang out. For example, boarding Kennels, daycare facilities, dog parks, or events like dog shows. Kennel cough transfers through airborne droplets, coming in direct contact with infected dogs, or through contaminated surfaces such as food bowls or water. 

Usually, the symptoms are treatable in adult and healthy dogs. However, the chances of severity increase in puppies younger than 6 months or dogs with a low immune system. 

To summarize the thoughts:

Kennel cough in dogs spread through:

  • Sharing dog toys or food bowls with dogs infected with Kennel cough
  • Poor ventilation
  • Cold temperatures
  • Being in the vicinity of an infected dog
  • Exposure to dust or cigarette smoke
  • Travel-induced stress in dogs

How long does the kennel cough contiguity remain?

How long does the kennel cough contiguity remain?

The contagious period of Kennel cough typically spans from 2 to 14 days. During this time, it is best to isolate the dog from the other surroundings to prevent further spread. Interestingly, many dogs carry kennel cough for months without showing any symptoms, serving as silent carriers of the infection.

Understanding this and taking proactive measures is the responsibility of a pet parent, as this plays a vital role in maintaining the overall health of the canine community.

How long does Kennel cough last?

Well, it usually takes somewhere around three weeks to get better. But, this may exceed six weeks for old dogs with a low immune system.

Symptoms of Kennel cough:

Symptoms of Kennel cough:

Kennel cough symptoms are flu-like symptoms in our furry friend. The symptoms include;

  • Mild fever 
  • Sneezing 
  • Dry hacking cough 
  • Gagging
  • Nasal Discharge 
  • Lethargy 
  • Low appetite

What does Kennel cough sound like? The distinctive persistent cough and its goose honk sound are the first indications of the disease. The worsening is usually followed by nasal discharge and fever, often accompanied by white phlegm. The entire experience becomes difficult for the fur baby, making him feel uncomfortable and resisting food. The fur puppy or dog is often seen as tired and restless if the symptoms remain untreated.

This being said, it is important to contact a veterinarian if you see any sign of coughing or other symptoms in the fur baby at the earliest.

How to treat Kennel cough?

As mentioned above, Kennel cough usually goes away on its own within a span of three weeks and might not require any medication. Generally, pet parents often prefer home remedies to cure Kennel cough treatment at home, which include the following.

Kennel cough treatment at home:

  • Keep supplying the dog with fresh water and a nutritional diet during the healing process
  • If they feel uncomfortable chewing the dry food, soak the food in warm water and then offer it.
  • Help the four-legged friend stay hydrated as much as possible.
  • If the vet has prescribed antibiotics, you should give it to the dog as per the schedule
  • If needed, the vet might prescribe a dog cough medicine or an inflammatory medicine to soothe the sore throat.
  • Keep them away from other dogs to avoid any transmission
  • Use a Dog harness rather than a collar walk to make them feel comfortable while coughing
  • Nebulizers and vaporizers are also beneficial to cure Kennel cough
  • Place a small humidifier near the dog to moisten the air and provide relief from irritation in the respiratory tract
  • Add honey to warm water that you offer your dogs to drink. This helps in minimizing the cough.

“Nebulizers and vaporizers utilizing inhaled antibiotics or bronchodilators have been reported to be beneficial but are usually not prescribed,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. Speak to your veterinarian for treatment recommendations.

It is essential to monitor pets closely and seek professional advice. The above-mentioned home remedies for kennel cough tend to provide comfort and support during the recovery stage. 

How can Kennel cough be prevented?

Guarding against Kennel cough:

Here is the good news; There is a Kennel cough vaccine that protects dogs against the bacterium bordetella, the primary bacteria that causes Kennel cough. While the vaccination doesn’t offer full protection, it can help pet parents avoid this infection in dogs. Bordetella vaccine is specifically formulated to protect the puppies against the three primary causes of Kennel cough and is administered when the pet baby is six to eight weeks old.

Forms and administration of Vaccine:

The vaccine comes in a variety of forms, such as intranasal drops, oral liquid, or an injection. Depending on the form of vaccine you choose to administer, the dog might require a booster dose between two to four weeks. 

  • Intranasal drops are administered through the nose and are adapted by the dogs.
  • Oral liquids are the drugs given orally by the pet parents.
  • Injections are given directly through shots, and the injected area can vary depending on the vaccine. 

You can avail of the vaccines at the vet clinic doctors and prevent your dog from catching Kennel cough. Many dog centers and doggy daycare facilities have made it mandatory for dogs to have Kennel vaccinations.

“Keep in mind, vaccinations aren’t useful if a dog has already caught the virus,” Krafchik says.

How to test for Kennel cough in dogs?

How to test for Kennel cough in dogs?

It is really easy to identify if your fur baby has a Kennel cough by gently massaging the larynx or trachea to see if the Kennel cough sound comes or not. Further, if not through physical examination, the vet doctor may also run diagnostic tests such as X-rays, blood tests, and laboratory analyses to see if it has worsened or not to develop pneumonia or other disease.

These diagnostic measures not only confirm the presence of Kennel cough but also help identify the potential complications and their severity. 

What is the cost of treatment for Kennel cough?

Kennel cough treatment typically starts from $75 to $200 including examination and Kennel cough medicine prescription. The doctor usually prescribes antibiotics, suppressants, and anti-inflammatory medicines. However, if the vet doctor recommends further diagnostics, bloodwork and X-rays can cost additionally around $200 to $500.

Vaccination charges are $10 to $15 for one-time vaccination and $20 to $30 for two vaccinations. Understanding the costs helps you make informed decisions about the furry companion’s health.


When is Kennel cough contagious?

Kennel cough in dogs remains contagious in dogs for around 14 days after the symptoms have disappeared. After observing signs of improvement, it is advisable to isolate the dog for a few more days.

Will Kennel cough go away on its own?

Yes, it usually disappears on its own after a three-week period for mild cases. And if the severity increases, it might take around six weeks to fully recover.

What can Kennel cough lead to?

Kennel cough subsidies on its own, but in severe cases can convert into bronchopneumonia in puppies or to chronic bronchitis in adult dogs.

Concluding Thoughts:

We hope this blog article helps you analyze Kennel cough symptoms in your dog. Please reach out to your vet if you find any concerning symptoms. 

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