What Is Kennel Cough?

Protect your dog from kennel cough as they go out and socialize with other dogs!

Being with other dogs is important for the development and socialization of your dog, and there are some health issues to be aware of when they congregate in shared spaces — doggy daycare, dog parks, etc — including kennel cough. 

Are you familiar with kennel cough? The Vet Set sure is, and much as we love to see dogs be dogs and play with each other, it’s important to know about kennel cough so you can better keep them healthy. Learn all about kennel cough in today’s post. 

What You Need To Know About Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis and is a highly infectious respiratory condition in dogs. This is no solo health condition that dogs contract, as it thrives in areas where large groups of dogs are — dog boarding, doggy daycare, dog training, dog shows, etc. — and is easily spread. 

How does kennel cough spread?

Kennel cough can spread through direct dog-to-dog contact (touching noses), through the air, and contaminated areas such as water and food bowls and even sharing toys. While it is treatable, it can be an issue for puppies and older dogs, and those dogs with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

Kennel cough has observable symptoms that present in the following ways:

  • A cough with a “honking” sound associated with it.
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

If your dog has any combination of the above symptoms, it’s important to connect with your local vet. 

As we’ve mentioned, kennel cough is a very treatable condition, but it’s important to talk about the cough with your vet because the cough could be something more serious such as canine influenza or canine distemper virus, both which start out identical to kennel cough. Other health issues to keep an eye out for are bronchitis, asthma, collapsing trachea, and sometimes even heart disease. 

How do you treat kennel cough?

Mild cases of kennel cough can be treated with rest over a week or two. In some cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection or cough medication to help manage and ease the symptoms.

It’s also important to keep your dog quarantined from others to prevent it from spreading.

How long does kennel cough last?

Kennel cough generally lasts for roughly three to four weeks, but if you have a puppy, older dog, or a dog with a compromised immune system, it may take them six weeks or longer to completely recover. 

How long kennel cough lasts will always depend on the dog, but a general timeframe is anywhere between three to six weeks. 

Can kennel cough be prevented?

There is a vaccine known as bordetella bacterium that can be given to dogs to help prevent kennel cough for dogs who are exposed to large groups of dogs regularly. This canine vaccine can be given orally, intranasally, or injected typically two to four weeks apart, in addition to a booster every six months to a year.  

One important thing to note is that the most common strain of kennel cough is bordetella, however, there are others such as bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus, and mycoplasmas that may not prevent your dog from catching the disease. 

It’s also important to disinfect your dog’s area, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. This includes washing and disinfecting dog bowls, kennels, dog toys, tables, and areas where your dog hangs out. Even washing blankets throughout the house that they sleep on is not going too far! 

If you have a home air purifier this is a great time to use it! Place it by your dog’s area or in a common place where they tend to be. The bacteria from kennel cough can last quite a long time on particulates, so if you can alleviate that, it can help prevent the spread of kennel cough. 

Pro Tips For Kennel Cough

  • Walk your dog using a harness instead of a collar to better prevent irritation and make the cough worse.
  • Use a humidifier in your dog’s area to help calm their cough.   
  • Keep your dog away from smoke and inside on low-quality air days.
  • Create a calming environment where your dog can relax and recover. 

Kennel cough is common among dogs who congregate in large groups and is most commonly observed in dog boarding facilities, doggy daycare, and dog parks. While it’s treatable, both younger and older dogs may have a harder time recovering and may need additional downtime to completely get over it. 

If your dog spends a lot of time with other dogs there is a kennel cough vaccine that is preventative. To further prevent the spread of kennel cough, it’s imperative that the facility your dog goes to is clean and takes steps to wash and disinfect regularly. 

For more information on how our Carroll Gardens vet clinic can help you combat kennel cough, call us today!


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