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Can CBD Oil For Dogs Help Treat Kennel Cough?

A brown and white dog lying on a bed under a white blanket

When your dog is sick, it can be difficult to interpret the signs and figure out what he is trying to tell you. Coughing is very noticeable, and frequent coughing is definitely a sign that there is a problem.

Your veterinarian can help you determine what is causing your dog’s cough, and they can sometimes distinguish one kind of cough from another. High-pitched coughing and wheezing can indicate a narrowed airway, and coughing that occurs more frequently at night might suggest heart disease. For most coughing dogs or dogs with additional clinical signs like sneezing and fever, kennel cough might be the problem.

Kennel Cough in Dogs

Also referred to as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is an illness that affects the upper airways, causing inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and the bronchial airways (smaller tubes that branch off from the trachea). It is primarily caused by bacterial and viral infections but can also be caused by parasites, smoke inhalation, and chronic coughing from other diseases. Kennel cough is usually accompanied by a hacking cough and throat irritation due to severe inflammation of the lining of the airways. The cough can improve after a few days but may persist for a few weeks in some cases.

Kennel cough can affect all dogs, and it occurs more frequently in unvaccinated puppies, senior dogs, and immunosuppressed dogs. Kennel cough can be caused by several organisms, including bacteria likeBordetella bronchiseptica and viruses like influenza. In severe cases, these infections can progress to pneumonia and cause serious illness in dogs.

Like cold and flu in humans, kennel cough can spread very quickly, especially during the summer months and in areas where there are many dogs. This includes hospitals, dog parks, and boarding and daycare facilities, so “kennel” cough is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to upper respiratory illnesses. Because this name can create confusion for pet owners, many veterinarians have adopted a new name for this kind of infection – canine infectious respiratory disease complex or CIRDC.

If your veterinarian suspects kennel cough, then she will likely recommend blood work to check your dog’s white blood cell count and chest x-rays to evaluate your dog’s lungs and airways. She may also recommend hospitalization with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and other facets of supportive care. If your dog is having trouble breathing, then oxygen therapy and nebulization treatments may be recommended.  

Symptoms to Watch Out For

If your dog is exposed to another animal who is sick with kennel cough, then it can take up to ten days for him to show symptoms. If he is vaccinated againstBordetella, influenza, and other diseases implicated in CIRDC cases, then your dog may have very mild clinical signs or even no signs at all!

Coughing spasms are the most common sign. The cough may also be described as dry, hacking, gagging or retching can be observed with severe coughing. It might also seem like exercise and excitement exacerbate these signs. In severe cases, and especially where kennel cough progresses to pneumonia, your dog may have a fever, nasal discharge, lack of appetite, and appear very lethargic. His breathing may appear exaggerated as it becomes more difficult to breathe.

CBD Oil for Dogs

Before discussing where CBD oil fits into cases of kennel cough, it is important to know a little background information. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that is naturally extracted from the hemp orCannabis plant. By extracting CBD for medicinal use, it eliminates the compound THC from the final product. THC, or tetrahydrocannbinol, is the psychoactive agent inCannabis that is highly toxic to dogs, so it is important to avoid any products for dogs that may contain traces of THC.

CBD is used to treat a variety of problems in dogs, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Side effects of cancer/chemotherapy

Sold out

Most of the information that we have on CBD products and their effects on dogs is based on anecdotal evidence or sometimes extrapolated from human studies. However, there is ongoing research at several universities and veterinary schools in the United States. One such study looked at a small population of two groups of dogs with a history of seizures. One group received CBD oil while the other group received a placebo. There was a significant reduction in the frequency of seizures observed in the CBD group. However, the proportion of “responders” in both groups was statistically similar, meaning that the same number of dogs in the placebo group also experienced fewer seizures1.  

CBD Oil for Kennel Cough

What can CBD oil do for dogs with kennel cough? Because CBD oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is possible that CBD can help reduce the inflammation of the trachea and bronchial airways. It may also help with pain due to throat irritation. CBD’s calming effects can help relieve anxiety, which is important because anxious or agitated dogs with kennel cough may overexert themselves and have even more trouble breathing.

Where to Find Quality CBD Oil

When purchasing CBD oil for your dog, it is important to make sure that the product does not contain THC as an ingredient. It should come from industrialized hemp, which has achieved legal status in many states. You can find one such product here on SitStay’s website.

There are very few reported side effects with CBD oil. If your dog experiences any problems after taking CBD oil, such as dizziness or trouble walking, then discontinue giving your dog CBD oil and contact your veterinarian right away. CBD oil may be safe for use with other medications, but if your dog has any blood work abnormalities, then your veterinarian may recommend discontinuing CBD or one of the other drugs.

Kennel cough can start out as mild signs of an upper respiratory tract illness, but it can progress to a more serious illness like pneumonia. Coughing can seriously impact your dog’s quality of life, but CBD oil and recommendations from your veterinarian can make a difference. Don’t wait! The sooner your coughing pup receives treatment, the sooner he can go back to enjoying his time with you!


  1. McGrath, S., et al. “Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy.” JAVMA, 1 June 2019.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish DVM


Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine.

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