Kennel Cough

By Kaylee Schuler

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine contagious Tracheobronchitis, often called Kennel Cough, is a respiratory disease that dogs often catch when in kennels or shelters (hence the name). It’s most common in puppies and younger dogs. Tracheobronchitis is usually caused by the Bordetella bacterium, but it can be caused by other bacteria or viruses. Symptoms include:

  • Deep or hacking cough, often with a honking noise
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

How is it transmitted?

This disease can be transmitted between dogs through airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces. Because of its airborne nature, it is difficult to prevent with usual disinfectants and cleaning. However, there is a vaccine to protect dogs against Kennel Cough and this vaccine can prevent many cases of the disease. Because the disease is sometimes caused by other agents, the vaccine isn’t guaranteed to prevent a dog from catching the disease.
If you notice your dog displaying symptoms like those listed above, you should consult a veterinarian. Most cases are resolved within a couple weeks of rest, but the disease commonly leads to other infections, so a vet might prescribe antibiotics to combat the development of a secondary infection. A vet might also prescribe cough medicine to treat the symptoms of the disease.

Dogs infected with Kennel Cough should be isolated from other dogs to prevent the spread of the disease. They should be kept in a warm environment to minimize the chances of developing pneumonia and given plenty of rest. It’s also advisable to use a harness instead of a collar while a dog is infected in order to avoid further strain on the dog’s throat.
If your dog displays any of the following symptoms long-term or is over the age of three, it’s likely that something more is going on:

  • High Fever
  • Increased inactivity
  • Low appetite
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Difficulty breathing

Though Kennel Cough is usually not serious, you should always consult a veterinarian if your dog is displaying symptoms of disease. Even if your dogs symptoms present as Kennel Cough, it’s possible that they are caused by a different, more serious disease.

Quick facts:

What is it?

  • An airborne, contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs

What are the common symptoms?

  • Coughing (usually with honking sound)
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

What should I do?

  • Consult a veterinarian
  • Isolate the dog
  • Keep the dog in a warm environment
  • Let the dog rest
  • Use a harness instead of a leash

What can I do to prevent it?

  • Vaccinate the dog—the Bordetella vaccine can prevent many cases of Tracheobronchitis
  • Consult a veterinarian for other recommendations if you plan to introduce the dog to a large group of other dogs (kennel, dog park, training facility, dog show, etc.)

For more information, visit:
Kennel Cough in Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
Kennel Cough
Sending love to you and your pets,
The Kennel Link Team

“Kennel Cough.” American Humane, 25 Aug. 2016.
“The Dangers of Kennel Cough in Dogs.” American Kennel Club, 23 Jan. 2019.

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