Complete Guide to Kennel Cough

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Dog owners are always on the lookout for illnesses and diseases that can affect their dog. There are many sicknesses out there, some of which are more serious than others.

However, there’s one that you, as a dog owner, may have come across before: kennel cough.

home remedies for kennel cough

While there are grave illnesses that require immediate medical attention, kennel cough isn’t usually a great cause for concern.

Rather, the danger in kennel cough is that, while it’s mostly harmless, it can compromise the immune system of your dog, making them more susceptible to other diseases.

In addition, kennel cough is extremely contagious, which means that your dog will probably have it a few times in their life.

This, coupled with the fact that it can result in discomfort for your dogs, makes kennel cough both a nuisance and a concern.

What is Kennel Cough?

Also known as canine cough, dog cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis in medical terms, kennel cough can be a result of many different factors. This is because there are many strains of the virus that lead to kennel cough.

Whatever the reason, this virus affects the airways of your pet, causing inflammation. With your dog’s airways irritated, they begin to cough, and may also have problems with breathing altogether.

This irritation also lowers the immune system of your dog, making them prone to catching more serious illnesses.

When trying to understand kennel cough, it may be helpful to think of it as something we are all familiar with: the common cold.

We’ve all had it at least once in our lives, even the healthiest of us, and it’s just a matter of time before you get it again.

It’s considered a nuisance most of the time, but can also be a problem if it opens the door to more serious diseases. However, serious disease or not, care and proper rest should be given to the body for it to recover.

kennel cough treatment

While kennel cough is not a serious doggy disease, it is still important to ensure that your dog recovers well, and that it isn’t spread to other dogs.

How Is Kennel Cough Spread?

Like the common cold, kennel cough is very contagious during the initial few days of the disease, specifically the first seven to 10 days.

The cause behind this lies in its name; kennel coughs tend to spread to all dogs in one kennel, because the conditions in a kennel make the virus easy to share.

Kennel cough is airborne, which means that it is spread through the air. It is mostly transmitted by coughing; every time your dog coughs, more of the virus is released into the air, which can then infect other dogs nearby.

Since kennels put dogs in close proximity to others, once one dog gets kennel cough, chances are, others will too.

Other than kennels,  kennel cough is easily spread wherever dogs are kept in close quarters, like shelters and boarding facilities.

This illness can also be transmitting in other ways than just the air. The most common are through physical contact with an affected dog or using items previously used by an infected dog (such as drinking from a water bowl).

How Can I Prevent Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough may, at one point or another, be a problem for all dog owners. Because it’s highly-contagious, chances are, your dog will not be the only one affected once it gets sick.

how to treat kennel cough

However, preventing kennel cough and limiting its spread doesn’t have to be a huge chore.


The environment of your dogs will also play a role with the spread of the illness. The most obvious reason for this is dust.

Dust particles can exacerbate the illness by encouraging them to cough more often, hastening the reach of this airborne infection.

Also, because dust can inflame the airway, a dog exposed to a great amount of dust may be more susceptible to illnesses that irritate their throat, such as kennel cough.

Other than ensuring their living space is as dust-free as possible, make sure that all items your dog uses are clean.

Regularly wash everything that your dog touches. Food and water bowls should be scrubbed daily if they’ve contracted this illness – or weekly otherwise.

All other materials should also be disinfected, such as your dog’s toys, kennels, and their immediate environment.

Pay special attention to the things that your dog likes to lick and bite, such as their toys. These items have a higher chance of transmitting diseases.


While being in close proximity to an infected dog can make your own dog sick, there are other factors that can raise the probability of your dog contracting the disease, like poor ventilation.

Places wherein dogs are put in close quarters don’t necessarily have to suffer from regular bouts of kennel cough, and ventilation can help lessen the probability.

Ensure there’s space for air to circulate, and reduce spaces where air could be trapped and cause moisture.


Other than keeping things clean, make sure that your pet also has a strong immune system.

Keeping your pet healthy will help them fight off potential infections, including, but not limited to, kennel cough.

kennel cough medicine

Proper diet and exercise will have a drastic effect on their wellbeing. Regular check-ups will also be helpful.

When it comes to kennel cough, the best way to prevent your dog from getting sick is to keep them away from sick dogs.

When used in tandem with the methods noted above, your dog is sure to remain healthy and cough-free.


Vaccines are a great way to avoid kennel cough, or at least diminish the effects that it would have on your dog.

Vaccinations against kennel cough can be administered in three ways: orally, through a nasal mist, and through injections.

There isn’t much of a difference between the three types. However, oral administration and nasal sprays will act faster than injections.

Just like vaccinations we have for the flu, vaccines against kennel cough don’t necessarily mean that your dog is guaranteed to never catch this illness.

It simply means that there is less of a chance, and if they do, their symptoms won’t be as bad as those that haven’t been vaccinated.

The reason for this? Kennel cough isn’t a result of just one virus; there are a host of viruses that can irritate the airways and lead to kennel cough.

WebMD recommends that your dog is vaccinated against kennel cough at least once a year.

However, for dogs that are at high-risk for kennel cough, and the complications that may be a result of it, your vet may recommend vaccinations every six months to ensure your dog’s health.

Kennel Cough Symptoms

However, if your dog did spend time near a sick pooch, how do you know if they’re sick as well?

Thankfully, determining if your dog has kennel cough is pretty easy. These symptoms often show up three to ten days after exposure to the virus.


This will be the most obvious symptom your dog has.

kennel cough

Pet Health Network describes this cough as a ‘persistent, non-productive cough,’ which means that it occurs often and isn’t caused by other factors, like choking on food or sniffing a patch of spilled flour.

Activities that require heavy breathing will also make the cough worse; examples of these are when your dog is excited or is exerting physically (such as when running in the park).


Because of a weakened immune system, your dog may appear more lethargic than usual, with slowed movements.

They will also act more tired overall. When you have the flu, you often feel worn out, and your pooch will be no different.

However, not all dogs appear lethargic and may not experience a change in their energy levels whatsoever.


This symptom often occurs early during the infection and will appear as a low-grade fever.

Like lethargy, this may not occur in all dogs. This fever should go away on its own in a few days; if it doesn’t, contact your veterinarian.

Runny Nose and Eyes

Discharge from the eyes and nose is a common symptom.

You can alleviate these issues by using home remedies, as well as regularly wiping your dog’s eyes and nose with a damp towel to ease their discomfort.

Here’s a video explaining more on kennel cough.

How to Treat Kennel Cough

Should you determine your dog has kennel cough, limiting their exposure to other canines will be your first step. Be sure to remove them from any doggy day-care they may attend and avoid dog parks.

While your pooch may not feel the effects of the illness too much, other dogs may suffer worse.

This is especially important for dogs with weakened immune systems or for those with conditions that may quickly lead to complications, such as dogs in old age and immunosuppressed dogs.

Typically, kennel cough lasts about three to six weeks; any more should be a cause for concern, and it may be best to take your dog to the vet.

Your vet will then run tests to ensure that your dog isn’t suffering from anything more serious. Should your vet find secondary infections, they will address this problem as well.

Your vet will prescribe cough medicine specifically formulated for dogs, as well as other treatments that can bolster the immune system. For those with more serious cases, antibiotics will be prescribed.

Your vet will also prescribe lots of rest for your dog to ensure they recover well.

With all of that said, most of the time, the cough just goes away on its own. All you will need to do is make sure that your dog can’t infect any other canines.

However, there are definitely ways in which you can make your dog more comfortable while they are sick, as well as to try and alleviate symptoms.

Home Remedies for Kennel Cough

Since kennel cough isn’t a particularly concerning disease, you typically won’t need to bring your dog to the vet. However, you may not want to leave them completely alone to fend for themselves either.

kennel cough

Thankfully, there are a number of home remedies for ‘dog cough’ that you can administer to help ease their discomfort, as well as to speed up their recovery.


Pure, raw, organic honey is a versatile medicine—and it tastes pretty great too.

To administer this home remedy, give your dog a tablespoon in the morning and before bed. This will ease the irritation in the throat and make recovery smoother.


Probiotics are great for bolstering the immune system, making sure that your dog can fight off the disease.

Probiotics specifically made for dogs can be bought at pet stores. However, if you have been prescribed antibiotics, make sure to wait two hours between giving both to your dog, so as to ensure they don’t cancel each other out.


Cinnamon is a great kennel cough medicine. It’s also safe for dogs, which makes it a fun treat to give during their meals.

Like honey, it’s flavorful and can bolster your dog’s immune system. To administer this, sprinkle half a teaspoon over your dog’s food bowl every meal.

This video explains more on treating a dog with kennel cough.

Doing Your Best Against Kennel Cough

No matter how much we dote on our furry friends, there will be times when something goes under our radar.

We will never be able to ward off every illness, no matter how hard we try. Especially if it is something as contagious as kennel cough, there can only be so much we do to ensure that they aren’t infected and made sick.

Placing effort in making their surroundings clean will also make sure that your dog is kept healthy and safe.

With kennel cough, the best thing we can do for our dogs is to make sure that they are healthy. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to make their immune systems strong, making them less susceptible to illnesses, not just from kennel cough.

However, if your dog does get sick, plenty of rest and care is often enough for them to recover back to full health.

What is your best way to treat kennel cough?

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