Kennel Cough

Understanding Kennel Cough in Dogs

When dogs play together, they might catch kennel cough, similar to how kids can catch colds from school friends. If your dog coughs or seems less energetic after playing with others, it could be kennel cough, especially in shared spaces. Regular vaccinations are crucial to prevent this. Moreover, keeping a close eye on your dog's health during interactions with other dogs is best.

If you want to learn more about kennel cough, this article is your guide. It explains what triggers this cough and how to recognize the symptoms. This will also discuss how to care for dogs feeling under the weather. Plus, it shares tips on prevention, such as vaccinations and keeping doggy areas spotless. Discover how to keep your four-legged friends healthy and full of tail wags!


What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a condition in dogs similar to a chest cold in humans. It’s often caused by a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria infects the dog’s windpipe and breathing tubes, leading to a harsh, hacking cough.

The infection inflames their airways, making them cough to eliminate the irritation. Imagine when you have a tickle in your throat and keep coughing to soothe it—that’s how it feels for dogs. It spreads through the air when an infected dog coughs. It can also move through shared toys or bowls.

Places where many dogs are close together, like kennels or doggy daycares, are hotspots for kennel cough. It’s because dogs are in tight spaces and can easily breathe in bacteria or viruses from each other. Puppies, in particular, are more vulnerable because their immune systems are not fully strong yet.

This disease is a common respiratory problem in dogs that’s highly contagious. However, it's manageable with proper care and treatment, and most dogs recover well.


Kennel Cough Symptoms

Kennel cough, known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, spreads from one dog to another. Here are kennel cough symptoms:

  1. Cough: The dog will have a strong, dry cough that doesn't sound wet. It might make a noise like a honking goose.
  2. Sneezing: Dogs can sneeze frequently, just like humans do when they are not feeling well.
  3. Runny Nose: You might see clear fluid dripping from the dog's nose.
  4. Eye Discharge: Sometimes, their eyes can be a little watery or have some goop in the corners.
  5. Feeling Sluggish: The dog may act tired and not as playful or active as usual.
  6. Low Fever: The dog might be warmer than usual, but not hotter.
  7. Not Hungry: They might eat less than they usually do.

How Kennel Cough is Different from Other Coughs

Kennel cough is distinct from other coughs. In terms of sound, it's dry and harsh. In addition, if a dog with a cough does not have a stuffy nose or high fever, it's probably a kennel cough and not a regular cold.

When to See the Vet

If you notice any symptoms, especially if they worsen, it's important to visit the veterinarian immediately.

It’s also best to keep an eye on the dog. If they do not get better within a week or three or start to act even more sick, return to the veterinarian. Sometimes, kennel cough can turn into pneumonia, which is more severe and needs more treatment.


Causes and Risk Factors of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is like the common cold for dogs, and germs cause it. The most common germ that leads to kennel cough is a tiny bug. But it's not the only one. Sometimes, other viruses jump in and help Bordetella make dogs sick.

Dogs that go to places with many other dogs can catch kennel cough more easily. Here are some areas where dogs are more at risk:

  • In Kennels: Dogs in kennels are around many other dogs. If one dog has a kennel cough, it can spread to others.
  • At Dog Shows: Dogs come from different places and can bring germs. When they're close to each other, they can share these germs.
  • In Dog Parks: Dogs play and run together, which can spread the cough.

How Can Big Dog Shows Spread Kennel Cough?

Think of big dog shows as a giant school for dogs from all over. The Westminster Kennel Show is one of these big gatherings. With so many dogs in one place, if one dog has a kennel cough, it can easily give it to other dogs. They meet, sniff, and play together, and that's how the cough spreads from one dog to another. It's like when one kid with a cold goes to a birthday party, and several kids go home with a runny nose.


Diagnosis and Treatment Strategies for Kennel Cough

To find out if a dog has kennel cough, a vet will listen to what has happened to the dog and check the symptoms. They might also need special tests to determine what's making the dog sick.

For treating kennel cough, the vet might give antibiotics if bacteria cause it, and sometimes medicine to calm the cough. If the dog is very sick, it may need to stay at the vet for more help.

You can help your dog at home by making the air wetter with a humidifier machine. This helps ease the cough. Keeping your dog calm and not too active and using a special chest leash instead of a neck collar when walking can also help your dog not to cough as much.


Proactive Strategies to Shield Your Dog from Kennel Cough

Vaccines are a dog’s defense against kennel cough. They help a dog’s immune system recognize and defeat the bacteria and viruses that cause the illness. Vaccinating your dog can greatly decrease the chances of them catching kennel cough.

A clean kennel is vital to prevent the spread of this disease. Cleaning up where dogs live, their toys, and where they eat helps ensure no germs around them. Good airflow also makes a healthy space for them to live in. Limiting the number of dogs in one area also helps prevent the spread of the disease.

When adopting, choose a dog from a facility with high cleanliness standards. Ensure all dogs are up-to-date with their vaccinations. Ask about the dog's health history and provide a vet who has cleared them before adoption. A healthy environment and proper medical clearances can help safeguard your new pet from kennel cough.



Kennel cough is something many dogs get, but you can take care of it if you know what to look for. It's like knowing the signs when someone is about to get a cold. Keeping your dog's space clean and ensuring they get their shots will help a lot. If your dog starts to cough, take them to the vet immediately to get them the help they need. Learning about kennel cough means you can keep your dog feeling good and energetic.

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