Kennel Cough in Dogs (2022)

(Also called Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease, CIRD, or Infectious Tracheobronchitis)

What is it?

Dog with Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough in Dogs (1)

Graphic by MarVistaVet.

Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis of dogs characterized by a harsh, hacking cough that most people describe as sounding like “something stuck in my dog’s throat.” This bronchitis may not last long and be mild enough to not need any treatment, or it may progress to a life-threatening pneumonia depending on which infectious agents are involved and the patient's immunological strength. An uncomplicated kennel cough runs a course of a week or two and entails frequent fits of coughing in a patient who otherwise feels active and normal.Uncomplicated cases do not involve fever or listlessness, just lots of coughing.

Numerous organisms (some of which may be prevented by vaccination) may be involved in a case of kennel cough; it would be unusual for only one agent to be involved. Infections with the following organisms frequently occur concurrently to create a case of kennel cough:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacteria)
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Adenovirus type 2
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Canine herpesvirus (very young puppies)
  • Mycoplasma canis (a single-cell organism that is neither virus nor bacterium)
  • Canine reovirus
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus.

The classical combination for uncomplicated kennel cough is infection with parainfluenza or adenovirus type 2 in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica. Infections involving the distemper virus, Mycoplasma species, or canine influenza are more prone to progressing to pneumonia, but pneumonia can readily result in any dog or puppy that is sufficiently young, stressed, or debilitated.

Not sure what a Coughing Dog sounds like?

(Video) Kennel Cough In Dogs

Dogs can make assorted respiratory sounds. Usually a cough is recognizable but it is important to be aware of another sound called a reverse sneeze. The reverse sneeze is often mistaken for a cough, a choking fit, sneezing, retching, or even for some sort of respiratory distress. In fact, the reverse sneeze is a post-nasal drip or tickle in the throat. It is considered normal, especially for small dogs or dogs and only requires attention if it is felt to be excessive. The point here is to know a cough when you hear one. A cough can be dry or productive, meaning it is followed by a gag, swallowing motion, production of foamy mucus (not to be confused with vomiting). Here are some videos that might help.

Coughing Dog (with Productive Cough):Dixon has kennel cough

Note: We have received a great deal of email from people who have viewed this video, compared it to what their own dog is doing and concluded their dog has kennel cough. This video is meant to demonstrate coughing in general. It is important to note that there are many causes of coughing and the nature of the cough does not generally reflect on its cause.

Reverse Sneezing Dog:Maggie reverse sneezes

How Infection Occurs

An infected dog sheds infectious bacteria and/or viruses in respiratory secretions. These secretions become aerosolized and float in the air where they can be inhaled by a healthy dog. Obviously, crowded housing and suboptimal ventilation play important roles in the likelihood of transmission but organisms may also be transmitted on toys, food bowls or other objects.

Mucociliary Escalator.

Kennel Cough in Dogs (2)

(Video) How To Spot and Treat Kennel Cough In Dogs | Vets4Pets

Graphic by MarVistaVet

The normal respiratory tract has substantial safeguards against invading infectious agents. Probably the most important of these is what is called the mucociliary escalator. This safeguard consists of tiny hair-like structures called cilia that protrude from the cells lining the respiratory tract and extend into a coat of mucus above them. The cilia beat in a coordinated fashion through the lower and more watery mucus layer called the sol. A thicker mucus layer called the gel floats on top of the sol. Debris, including infectious agents, get trapped in the sticky gel and the cilia move them upward towards the throat where the collection of debris and mucus may be coughed up and/or swallowed.

The mucociliary escalator is damaged by the following:

  • shipping stress
  • crowding stress
  • heavy dust exposure
  • cigarette smoke exposure
  • infectious agents (as listed previously)
  • cold temperature
  • poor ventilation.

Without this, a fully functional mucociliary escalator or invading bacteria, especially Bordetella bronchiseptica, the chief agent of kennel cough, may simply march down the airways unimpeded.

Bordetella bronchiseptica organisms have some tricks of their own as well:

  • They are able to bind directly to cilia, rendering them unable to move within 3 hours of contact.
  • They secrete substances that disable the immune cells normally responsible for consuming and destroying bacteria.

Because it is common for Bordetella to be accompanied by at least one other infectious agent (such as one of the viruses listed below), kennel cough is actually a complex of infections rather than infection by one agent.

Classically, dogs get infected when they are kept in a crowded situation with poor air circulationand lots of warm air (i.e., a boarding kennel, vaccination clinic, obedience class, local park, animal shelter, animal hospital waiting room, or grooming parlor). In reality, most causes of coughing that begin acutely in dogs are due to infectious causes and usually represent some form of kennel cough.

The incubation period is 2 to 14 days. Dogs are typically sick for 1 to 2 weeks. Infected dogs shed Bordetella organism for 1 to 3 months following infection.

How is Diagnosis Made?

A coughing dog that has a poor appetite, fever, and/or listlessness should be evaluated for pneumonia.

Usually the history of exposure to a crowd of dogs within the proper time frame, plus typical examination findings (coughing dog that otherwise feels well) is adequate to make the diagnosis. Radiographs show bronchitis and are particularly helpful in determining if there is a complicating pneumonia.

(Video) What Should You REALLY Do When Your Dog Gets Kennel Cough? | Vet Explains

Recently, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) panels have become available in many reference laboratories. Using technology to amplify the presence of DNA in a swab, the lab is able to test for most of the kennel cough infectious agents listed. This knowledge is helpful in guiding therapy and understanding expectations.

How is Kennel Cough Treated?

An uncomplicated case of kennel cough will go away by itself. Cough suppressants can improve patient comfort while the infection is resolving. The dog should be clearly improved, if not recovered, after about a week. That said, several infectious agents in the kennel cough complex are more intense and can cause a minor bronchitis to progress to pneumonia, which is a potentially life-threatening disease. Given this possibility, antibiotics are frequently prescribed to kennel cough patients to prevent or curtail pneumonia before it warrants hospitalization.

It is important to distinguish an uncomplicated case of kennel cough from one complicated by pneumonia for obvious reasons. The uncomplicated cases will not have fever or appetite loss, nor will they be listless. As mentioned, they will seem normal except for coughing. Dogs with pneumonia appear sick.

Prevention through Vaccination

Vaccination is only available for: Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, and canine influenza. Infections with other members of the kennel cough complex cannot be prevented. Vaccine against adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and canine distemper is generally included in the basic puppy series and subsequent boosters (the DHPP or distemper-parvo shot). For Bordetella bronchiseptica, vaccination can either be given as a separate injection or as a nasal immunization. There is some controversy regarding which method provides a better immunization or if a combination of both formats is best.

(Video) Kennel Cough! What it sounds like and how a veterinarian will treat kennel cough.

Nasal Vaccine

Intranasal vaccination may be given as early as 3 weeks of age and immunity generally lasts 12 to 13 months. The advantage is that the local immunity is stimulated right at the site where the natural infection would try to take hold.

It takes four days to generate a solid immune response after intranasal vaccination, so it is best if vaccination is given at least four days prior to the exposure. Some dogs will have some sneezing or nasal discharge in the week following intranasal vaccination; this should clear up on its own. As a general rule, nasal vaccination provides faster immunity than injectable vaccination.

Nasal vaccines for Bordetella generally also include vaccine against parainfluenza virus and some also include vaccine against adenovirus type 2.

Oral Vaccine

An oral vaccine is available for Bordetella bronchiseptica (but not adenovirus or parainfluenza). The idea is that it is easier to give the vaccine with a syringe in the mouth - just inside the cheek - and there is no concern about sneezing out some of the vaccine. The oral vaccine can be given to puppies as young as 8 weeks of age. The vaccine is given annually.

Injectable Vaccine

Injectable vaccination is a good choice for aggressive dogs who may bite if their muzzle is approached. For puppies, injectable vaccination provides good systemic immunity as long as two doses are given (approximately one month apart) after age 4 months. Boosters are generally given annually. Some dogs experience a small lump under the skin at the injection site. This should resolve without treatment.

Vaccination is not useful in a dog already incubating kennel cough.

Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination may not prevent infection. In some cases, vaccination minimizes symptoms of illness but does not entirely prevent infection. This is true whether nasal, oral or injectable vaccine is used.

Dogs that have recovered from Bordetella bronchiseptica are typically immune to reinfection for 6 to 12 months.

What if Kennel Cough doesn't Improve?

As previously noted, this infection is generally self-limiting. It should be at least improved partially after one week of treatment. If no improvement is seen after that week, a re-check exam (possibly including chest radiographs) would be a good idea. Failure of kennel cough to resolve suggests an underlying condition. Kennel cough can activate a previously asymptomatic collapsing trachea or the condition may have progressed to pneumonia. Alternatively, there may be another disease afoot entirely such as non-infectious bronchitis, congestive heart failure, or some other condition that causes coughing.

(Video) Signs of Kennel Cough in Dogs - Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment Expectations

If you have questions about a coughing dog, do not hesitate to bring them to your veterinarian.

FAQs

What is the fastest way to cure kennel cough? ›

Treatment for Kennel Cough
  1. Mild Cases of Kennel Cough. ...
  2. Severe Cases of Kennel Cough. ...
  3. Add Honey to Warm Water. ...
  4. Use a Humidifier. ...
  5. Use Your Shower to Do Steam Therapy. ...
  6. Try Holistic Antioxidants Made for Dogs. ...
  7. Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Plenty of Rest.
30 Jun 2020

How long does it take for a dog to come down with kennel cough? ›

If my dog is exposed to an animal with kennel cough, how long will it take him or her to develop symptoms? What symptoms should I watch out for? The incubation period ranges from 2-14 days. The most common clinical signs include the abrupt onset of a dry, hacking cough that often culminates with a retching noise.

Do dogs survive kennel cough? ›

In most cases, dogs will recover from kennel cough without treatment within three weeks, but it can sometimes linger for anything up to six weeks.

Do they cough all the time with kennel cough? ›

Any dog can develop kennel cough. Most dogs will develop a persistent hacking cough but will remain otherwise healthy.

Does peanut butter help kennel cough? ›

Echinacea stimulated the angiogenic (formation of new blood vessels) of spleen lymphocytes, indicating an enhancement of the immune system which would help fight off the kennel cough infection. You may give echinacea with peanut butter as a treat for your dog.

What product kills kennel cough? ›

Care Biocide Plus has been tested against Bordatella Bronchiseptica and has been found to be effective against this common bacterial culprit implicated in Kennel Cough at 1 ounce per gallon of water in a high soil load and high hardness water. All hard surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected with Biocide Plus.

Should I walk my dog with kennel cough? ›

Rest and TLC - exercise can make a cough much worse; keep your dog warm, comfortable and allow them to rest as much as they need.

How can I comfort my dog with kennel cough? ›

Encourage Your Dog to Rest

Adequate rest is one of the best remedies for kennel cough. If your dog gets plenty of sleep, it will give his body a chance to fight the virus and recover properly. Put your dog in a room by himself, away from kids and other pets. This way, he will not be disturbed while trying to rest.

How do you know when kennel cough is gone? ›

In general, dogs who have kennel cough are no longer contagious after 10-14 days. This window can be shortened if antibiotics are used to treat the bacterial infection.

Is kennel cough painful for dogs? ›

Kennel cough is a common, contagious disease that produces coughing and other upper respiratory symptoms in dogs. The disease can cause significant discomfort — and in some cases, serious complications — but it usually responds very well to veterinary treatment.

Is there a home remedy for kennel cough? ›

You can treat kennel cough with coconut oil

Give two teaspoons daily until the cough is cured. Pour it over Spot's food bowl or just let her lick it right off the spoon — being congested will suppress her appetite, but a whiff of this oil's rich, fragrant aroma will get her mouth watering again.

Can vets do anything for kennel cough? ›

Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and cough medication to ease the symptoms.

What happens if you leave kennel cough untreated? ›

The infection is mild in most dogs, but some may develop pneumonia. Puppies and dogs of any age with compromised immune symptoms are more likely to develop pneumonia. In severe cases, kennel cough can cause death. Recovery from kennel cough usually takes about 10 to 14 days.

Does kennel cough start and stop? ›

Symptoms of kennel cough usually take 3-5 days to develop after exposure. The classic honking, hacking cough which is often followed by a big retch at the end, lasts for one to two weeks in an average case.

Can my dog get kennel cough even when vaccinated? ›

While Bordetella is the most common cause of kennel cough in dogs, it is not the only one. Other bacteria and viruses, including the parainfluenza virus, can also cause kennel cough, which means that even vaccinated dogs can get kennel cough from another source.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for kennel cough? ›

The best over-the-counter antihistamine for dogs has been Benadryl or diphenhydramine, although recently veterinarians have begun using Claritin (loratidine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) in dogs.

Can I give my dog straight honey for kennel cough? ›

Just like how people use honey to soothe a sore throat, dogs can have honey to soothe a sore throat caused by coughing. Giving dogs honey for kennel cough or other coughing is a natural way to alleviate their throat pain.

Do dogs eat when they have kennel cough? ›

A dog won't stop eating because of kennel cough, but it may slow down while it's infected.

How do I clean my house after kennel cough? ›

Plain old bleach works well, as it is one of the few disinfectants that kills the canine adenovirus. Mix 1 ounce of bleach to 32 ounces of water for cleaning and disinfecting. Careful attention to cleaning extends to people.

Will kennel cough go away without antibiotics? ›

What is the treatment for kennel cough? Kennel cough can usually go away on its own – most cases will clear up within three weeks and shouldn't need any treatment at all.

Can dogs recover from kennel cough without antibiotics? ›

Kennel cough can usually go away on its own. For many dogs, kennel coughs will clear up within three weeks and shouldn't need any treatment at all. For mild cases, treatment that includes a couple of weeks of rest can help your dog make a full recovery quickly.

Can dogs catch kennel cough from grass? ›

The bacteria and viruses may also “live” for several days on objects dogs come into contact with, such as toys, bowls, fences, grass and dirt, clothing and shoes.

Do I need to isolate my dog with kennel cough? ›

As Kennel Cough is highly contagious to other dogs, it is advised that you keep your dog away from other dogs for around two weeks, but this can vary depending on the severity of the infection.

How did my dog get kennel cough? ›

How does your dog get it? Kennel cough is VERY contagious. It is named kennel cough because it can quickly spread through a kennel and infect every dog. Kennel cough can be transmitted by aerosols released when a sick animal coughs, by direct contact with an infected animal, or by the sharing of contaminated objects.

What calms a dogs cough? ›

Dog Coughing: How To Quickly Stop It With 7 Natural Remedies - YouTube

Do most dogs recover from kennel cough? ›

Coughing generally worsens with activity or exercise, which can irritate the airways. Not all dogs with CIRDC will have a cough. Other common signs include sneezing and a runny nose or eyes. In most cases of CIRDC, the illness is mild, and dogs fully recover within 7 to 10 days.

How long does kennel cough usually last? ›

most infections resolve within one to three weeks." Some cases require prolonged treatment, but most infections resolve within one to three weeks. Mild clinical signs may linger for several weeks even when the bacteria have been eliminated.

How long do dogs need to quarantine after kennel cough? ›

If quarantine is advised, plan to keep your dog away from social environments, including day care and boarding, for at least 14 days after their symptoms have resolved. This is generally how long it takes for a dog to clear the infection and no longer be contagious to other dogs.

Is Honey OK for dogs? ›

Is Honey Safe for Dogs? Honey is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. It contains natural sugars and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is also used as a sweetener in many foods and beverages.

What over the counter medicine is good for kennel cough? ›

Mild over-the-counter cough suppressants such as Mucinex cough medicine for children may help keep pets comfortable. Temaril-P can also be used to treat itching and coughing symptoms in dogs.

How much does it cost to fix kennel cough? ›

Generally, the cost for kennel cough treatment is related to the examination and medications prescribed. This cost usually ranges from $75 to $200 depending on the size of the pet and which medications are needed. If lab work and X-rays are needed, it could be an additional $200 to $500 depending on the tests run.

Can kennel cough only last 3 days? ›

Once your dog has caught kennel cough, symptoms usually last for a matter of days. In more severe cases, kennel cough lasts for several weeks. If Bordetella is the main culprit, kennel cough itself will last for around ten days.

What medicine do you give dogs for kennel cough? ›

Some of the most widely prescribed antibiotics for kennel cough include Baytril, Doxycycline, and Clavamox. Antibiotics will not affect the viral aspect of the illness (that is, they won't prevent its spread) but will help treat secondary bacterial infections.

When should I take my dog to the vet for kennel cough? ›

Owners may want to take a dog to see a veterinarian if the dog has a persistent cough after coming home from a boarding service or participating in activities with other canines. They can examine the dog and perform conjunctival and pharyngeal swabs, then test them for kennel cough.

How do you shorten kennel cough? ›

The natural ways of treating kennel cough include:

Humidity: Just like with humans, humidity is often a dog's best friend. Keep the humidifier or steamer on throughout the illness. Homeopathic Nosode: This natural remedy stimulates the immune system of the dog to fight off the infection. Nosodes are powerful.

Will kennel cough go away without antibiotics? ›

What is the treatment for kennel cough? Kennel cough can usually go away on its own – most cases will clear up within three weeks and shouldn't need any treatment at all.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for kennel cough? ›

The best over-the-counter antihistamine for dogs has been Benadryl or diphenhydramine, although recently veterinarians have begun using Claritin (loratidine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) in dogs.

Can dogs recover from kennel cough without antibiotics? ›

Kennel cough can usually go away on its own. For many dogs, kennel coughs will clear up within three weeks and shouldn't need any treatment at all. For mild cases, treatment that includes a couple of weeks of rest can help your dog make a full recovery quickly.

What's a home remedy for kennel cough? ›

Cinnamon can help treat kennel cough. Cinnamon for dogs is another great dietary supplement. This essential spice-cabinet staple is safe to sprinkle liberally over your dog's food bowl any time of year, but it's especially good as one of the home remedies for kennel cough.

Should you walk a dog with kennel cough? ›

If you notice your dog is coughing, then keep them away from other dogs and lead walk only avoiding coming into contact with other dogs. Take to the vets immediately so they can confirm and administer antibiotics.

Is honey OK for dogs? ›

Is Honey Safe for Dogs? Honey is safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. It contains natural sugars and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is also used as a sweetener in many foods and beverages.

How long should you quarantine a dog with kennel cough? ›

If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms of kennel cough, take them to vet immediately and keep them away from other dogs, including daycare and boarding, for at least 14 days. This is generally how long it takes for a dog to completely shed the virus from their system and no longer be contagious to other dogs.

Can kennel cough only last 3 days? ›

Symptoms of kennel cough usually take 3-14 days to develop and then last for 1-3 weeks. Most dogs develop a hacking cough and stay otherwise quite well, but puppies, older dogs, and poorly dogs can develop more serious symptoms such as: A reduced appetite. Low energy (lethargy)

Do I need to isolate my dog with kennel cough? ›

As Kennel Cough is highly contagious to other dogs, it is advised that you keep your dog away from other dogs for around two weeks, but this can vary depending on the severity of the infection.

Do vets prescribe anything for kennel cough? ›

Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and cough medication to ease the symptoms.

What over the counter medicine is good for kennel cough? ›

Mild over-the-counter cough suppressants such as Mucinex cough medicine for children may help keep pets comfortable. Temaril-P can also be used to treat itching and coughing symptoms in dogs.

What human medicine can I give my dog for kennel cough? ›

If your dog is coughing up a storm, you may consider giving him a cough suppressant such as Robitussin. This medicine is only intended to be used for a short time period and should only be given under a veterinarian's approval. A veterinarian will determine the correct dosage of Robitussin for your dog.

How did my dog get kennel cough? ›

How does your dog get it? Kennel cough is VERY contagious. It is named kennel cough because it can quickly spread through a kennel and infect every dog. Kennel cough can be transmitted by aerosols released when a sick animal coughs, by direct contact with an infected animal, or by the sharing of contaminated objects.

How long does kennel cough usually last? ›

most infections resolve within one to three weeks." Some cases require prolonged treatment, but most infections resolve within one to three weeks. Mild clinical signs may linger for several weeks even when the bacteria have been eliminated.

What happens if you leave kennel cough untreated? ›

The infection is mild in most dogs, but some may develop pneumonia. Puppies and dogs of any age with compromised immune symptoms are more likely to develop pneumonia. In severe cases, kennel cough can cause death. Recovery from kennel cough usually takes about 10 to 14 days.

Videos

1. Kennel Cough Symptoms and Treatment
(MercolaHealthyPets)
2. Kennel Cough and Heart Cough
(Greg Martinez DVM)
3. Kennel Cough in Dog
(Vet's Klinic)
4. kennel cough
(CBS 42)
5. What Kennel Cough Sounds Like
(Live Breathe Dogs)
6. Kennel Cough in Dogs
(MercolaHealthyPets)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Last Updated: 12/02/2022

Views: 6439

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Birthday: 1993-03-26

Address: 917 Hyun Views, Rogahnmouth, KY 91013-8827

Phone: +5938540192553

Job: Administration Developer

Hobby: Embroidery, Horseback riding, Juggling, Urban exploration, Skiing, Cycling, Handball

Introduction: My name is Fr. Dewey Fisher, I am a powerful, open, faithful, combative, spotless, faithful, fair person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.