Kennel Cough for Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention


If you have ever made plans for your canine friend to stay at a boarding facility for a few days, you may have been requested to provide proof that they are vaccinated against kennel cough. This is because kennel cough is very contagious and may spread easily from dog to dog. As a pet parent, we all want the best of the health for our dogs; the idea that we could be putting them at risk of sickness should be enough to make us rethink our boarding arrangements and trip plans.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of kennel cough.

The symptoms of kennel cough in dogs

A common and extremely infectious respiratory illness in dogs is the moniker “kennel cough.” It’s more common in kennels, where there are a lot of dogs crammed together. It is known as a “dry, hacking (or honking) cough” in dogs since it is the primary symptom. Several viruses and bacteria may lead to kennel cough symptoms. However, due to the similarity of the symptoms, kennel cough is used to describe all illnesses.

Even while kennel cough is very contagious, it is also readily treated and, in many cases, clears up on its own. There are exceptions, such as pups less than six months of age and those with preexisting health issues.

Causes of Kennel cough

The following viruses and bacteria are the most likely culprits in the development of kennel cough:

  • Kennel cough is most often caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacterium found in swine. Inflammation of the dog’s upper respiratory tract is the result of the bacterium.
  • CPIV, or canine parainfluenza, is a prevalent cause of kennel cough in dogs. Different viruses and immunizations are needed to protect dogs against a virus that resembles canine influenza, despite comparable symptoms.
  • As the name implies, this respiratory illness, also known as infectious canine laryngotracheitis virus or Canine adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), causes kennel cough in dogs.
  • Canine distemper may be spread from dog to dog or from mother to pups in the womb by airborne transmission, sharing food and water dishes, or other means.
  • Many dogs come into contact with kennel cough in canine boarding facilities, doggy daycare centers, training centers, dog parks, and dog shows.

The following are some of the ways that kennel cough, like the common cold, spreads:

  • As a result of interaction with diseased animals.
  • Droplets of diseased dogs coughing or sneezing enter the air.
  • By coming into touch with infected objects, like water bowls or toys that have been shared.
  • A boarding facility’s stress, poor air quality, and ventilation contribute to a dog’s risk of developing kennel cough.

To diagnose Kennel Cough in dogs, how do veterinarians go about doing so?

kennel cough for dogs | Credit: Prostock-Studio

A tentative diagnosis of kennel cough may be obtained in most cases based on clinical symptoms, history, and response to treatment.

Detecting the underlying infection is not always necessary, although it may be helpful for kennel cough treatment. Final testing is advised in individuals with pneumonia suspicion, those who don’t improve on supportive treatment or show evidence of systemic illness, or if an epidemic is affecting numerous canines.

Bloodwork (particularly a complete blood count) may demonstrate an increased white cell count in dogs with pneumonia as a complicating issue.

An unremarkable chest X-ray is common in cases with kennel cough ranging from moderate to severe. With radiographs, it is feasible to rule out various causes of coughing in dogs, including a collapsed trachea, congestive heart failure (CHF), and more.

It is common to practice to do viral identification tests with DNA polymerase chain reaction assays. Samples for this test are collected using a nasal or oropharyngeal swab (like COVID testing or human strep throat testing). It’s possible that both true and erroneous results will occur.

Transtracheal cleansing and bacterial culture may be conducted in cases of persistent or recurrent coughing and other symptoms of an infection.

Treatment of kennel cough

If your dog shows kennel cough symptoms you must opt for the best and quick treatment. To understand what prescription and course you must choose, you need to consider the severity of your dog’s kennel cough as well as its responsiveness to treatment. You shouldn’t use a collar and leash on a dog that has kennel cough or is recovering from it. Because collars and leashes impose extra pressure on the trachea and cause coughing, switch to harnesses for walks.

Mild Kennel Cough Illnesses

Supportive therapy, including rest, feeding, and hydration, may be all that’s needed for mild instances of kennel cough. However, if the kennel cough continues for a few days you must consider taking you dog to their veterinarian who may prescribe a cough suppressant to assist in minimizing the frequency of your pet’s coughing attacks.

Moderate kennel cough should take a dog one to two weeks to recover from. It is possible for some dogs to fully heal on their own without the need for any therapy.

Kennel Cough Severe Cases

Kennel cough may be quite dangerous if it gets out of hand. The symptoms of severe kennel cough include coughing, lethargy, and a lack of interest in eating or drinking.

If a dog suffers pneumonia, treatment may include the following:

  • Hospitalization
  • Fluids are given intravenously.
  • Antibiotics
  • There is a possibility that oxygen treatment might be used

For more problematic instances, kennel cough therapy might cost more than $1,000, depending on the number of days in the hospital.

Is Kennel Cough in Dogs Treatable with Home Remedies?

Kennel cough may be treated with a few simple home remedies. Make a note of whether the kennel cough is getting better or worsening with these kennel cough home remedies

Warm water with honey in it

As a home cure for kennel cough, honey may calm your dog’s throat and reduce coughing, making it an excellent choice.

Honey and warm water may be given to your dog in a dish for half to one tablespoon. As much as three times a day might be used for this, depending on your dog’s coughing frequency.

A Humidifier Is a Must

While your dog is resting, a tiny humidifier may be put near them. By moistening the air your dog is breathing, the humidifier may help soothe discomfort in the respiratory system.

Steam therapy may be done in the shower.

The only time you should let your dog into the shower or bath is when you’re having a hot shower or bath. The warm steam coming from a hot shower may be a therapeutic experience for your dog that will soothe irritability simultaneously, and act as a good kennel cough home treatment.

Antioxidants with a Holistic Approach Designed with Canines in Mind

It can strengthen and modify a dog’s immune system using holistic antioxidants, such as dimethylglycine (DMG).

Dogs suffering from kennel cough need a lot of rest, so ensure they’re getting it.

Reducing the daily activity your dog receives while recuperating from kennel cough may aid in healing and prevent coughing bouts.


If your dog is healthy, happy, and active, you may not need to see a veterinarian. Nevertheless, if you are a concerned pet parent who is worried about your dog’s health and wellbeing, always call for assistance and inform the clinic when you arrive that your dog has been coughing. When a dog is coughing, it’s best to keep it away from other dogs.


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