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What You Need to Know About Kennel Cough in Dogs!

Golden Retriever and a Border collie sitting in a dog house made of wood

Everyone has heard of kennel cough in dogs. What really is kennel cough, and how does your dog get kennel cough. This article will explain all about what exactly kennel cough is and what you can do to protect your dog from this disease.

What is kennel cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious bacteria that is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. This means and infection in the trachea that has now caused inflammation. The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica causes this disease. This bacterium attacks the cilia lining in the respiratory tract. When the bacteria attack the lining, it causes inflammation in the upper airways. This inflammation is what causes your dog to cough.

While kennel cough can occur at any time, it is more common to see in the summer months.

How does a dog contract kennel cough?

Your dog can catch kennel cough by coming into direct contact with an infected animal. This may be during boarding, grooming, or playing with other dogs at the dog park. This disease is called kennel cough because the cough spreads quickly. At boarding kennels, if one dog comes in with a cough, it can quickly spread to all the other dogs in the kennel. Your dog can also catch kennel cough from coming into contact with contaminated objects such as water and food bowls. This is a highly contagious disease, especially in puppies and unvaccinated dogs.


Group of huskies at a kennel playing together

Symptoms that are commonly seen in kennel cough resemble many other diseases. Your veterinarian will take a thorough history and examine your dog. Let your veterinarian know of all contact with other dogs. Dogs who have been recently boarded or visit dog parks often are more likely to develop kennel cough.  

A persistent cough

Dogs with kennel cough will have a persistent cough. This may sound like they are gagging. This cough will last all day and night. Most dogs with kennel cough will have a hard time sleeping due to them being up all night coughing. This may also be keeping you up. If your dog is coughing all the time, it is best to take them to a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you figure out why they are coughing.

A Honking Cough as Well

Some will also sound like a goose honk. This is a very classic presentation of kennel cough. This goose honking cough can be very painful and irritating to your dog's trachea. If the cough is not managed early in the disease process, your dog may end up with a secondary infection.

May not show signs for up to ten days after infection

After your dog comes in contact with a dog with kennel cough, it may take a few days before they start showing any signs. Most dogs will begin to show signs about 10 days after infection.

Diagnosis and treatment

Group of many dog breeds laying together in a dog park lying in the grass

If your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will test for a wide range of things that might cause a cough, including heartworm disease and cancer.

Usually, no medication is given for treating a dog who has kennel cough. Sometimes your veterinarian may provide them with a cough suppressant to help calm the coughing down and allow them to sleep. Kennel cough is like a human cough and will work itself out most times.

If your dog has a green nasal discharge from their nose and is lethargic, take your dog to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may take chest x-rays and run bloodwork to make sure that your dog has not developed a secondary infection. At that time your veterinarian will give your dog antibiotics to keep them from developing a horrible pneumonia

Dogs who suffer from kennel cough should be isolated from other dogs to help decrease the spread of this disease. Your dog should not have contact with any other dogs for the duration of their sickness.


There are many different ways to prevent your dog from getting kennel cough. One way is to limit their interaction with unvaccinated dogs. This will significantly help decrease the spread of this disease. Vaccinating your dog for this disease is another great way to help prevent your dog from getting kennel cough.

3 types of vaccinations against kennel cough

Two beagles and a boxer playing chase with a yellow ball

There are 3 different types of vaccines that can protect your dog from kennel cough. Your dog can receive an injection like they do with all their other shots. There is also an intranasal vaccine. This vaccine will put liquid in your dog’s nose to help protect them from kennel cough. Some dogs do not like the drops in their nose, so they also make an oral liquid that they can drink. All these different types of vaccines work the same way to protect your dog from getting kennel cough.

Just like with any vaccination, this vaccine will not 100 % guarantee your dog will not get kennel cough. If your dog does get kennel cough, it will be a much easier and quicker recovery for them

CBD is another option to assist as it is a natural anti inflammatory and can reduce some of the symptoms your dog may experience.

Sold out

Kennel cough in dogs can be a very frustrating disease to deal with. With the right about of care and prevention, your dog can be on their way to recovering in no time. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best possible treatment and prevention for your dog. The earlier you treat this disease, the better and quicker the recovery for your dog.

Kennel Cough in Dogs By: Sara Ochoa

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM
Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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