Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What Is Kennel Cough in Dogs? Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

Is your dog frequently coughing? It might be suffering from kennel cough. Our veterinarians in Concord explain the diagnosis and treatment of kennel cough in dogs.

Canine Kennel Cough

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, known as kennel cough or Bordetella, is a respiratory disease in dogs. Kennel cough is often caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus, which attack the lining of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation of the dog's upper airways. Although kennel cough is rare in most healthy dogs, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, older dogs or dogs with weakened immune systems.

The disease is called kennel cough because of its contagiousness; close contact between pets (kennels, dog parks, multi-dog households) can lead to the rapid spread of kennel cough. Kennel cough is transmitted from dog to dog by contact with infected droplets in the air. This may involve direct contact with the infected dog or contact with objects on which infected droplets have landed, such as the dog's toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.

Signs of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is a contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. Its main symptom is a persistent dry cough that produces no phlegm or mucus. This cough sounds like a goose honk or as if something is stuck in the dog's throat. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it's important to keep them away from other dogs and contact your vet immediately for advice. If your dog has mild symptoms and is otherwise healthy, your vet may recommend isolating your dog to prevent the spread of the disease. Allowing your dog to rest for a few days will help them recover from kennel cough. However, if the symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.

Diagnosing Kennel Cough

Diagnosing kennel cough is much more a process of elimination. Since many more serious conditions have symptoms similar to those of kennel cough, your veterinarian will examine your pet for signs of a collapsed trachea, heartworms, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and so on. Coughing in dogs can also be a symptom of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Depending on the results of your pet's examination and medical history, your veterinarian will determine whether kennel cough is the cause of your pet's symptoms.

Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs

Otherwise, healthy adult dogs usually respond well to treatment. Your vet may decide that no medication is required, and the best cure for your dog is to rest while they recover from the infection, similar to how humans recover from a cold. 

If your dog has severe symptoms, your vet may prescribe medications such as antibiotics to prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to ease your dog's persistent cough. 

While your dog is in recovery, it's a good idea to switch from neck collars to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. Additionally, using a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time can help relieve your dog's dry cough. 

Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. However, a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential if your dog's symptoms persist for longer. Sometimes, kennel cough can lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.

Protecting Your Dog From Kennel Cough

If your dog is a social animal and spends a lot of time with other dogs, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations that can protect your pup from kennel cough. It's important to note that although this vaccine may help reduce kennel cough transmission, it's not 100% effective since different pathogens can cause it. 

There are three forms of the kennel cough vaccine available: injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. Your veterinarian will recommend the most suitable form for your dog if they think a kennel cough vaccine is necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of kennel cough, contact our vets Concord to book an appointment with your dog.

New Patients Welcome

All Bay Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Concord companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Request Appointment

Book Online (925) 687-7346