Kennel Cough in Dogs Why Dogs Get Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough in Dogs
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Kennel cough can occur in dogs after a stay at a dog boarding facility or other dog care center. Learn more about the care and treatment of kennel cough.

Does your dog always seemed to come home with kennel cough after a stay at a dog boarding facility? Much like kids in day care, when dogs go to kennels, theyโ€™re often prone to catching something -- kennel cough. It used to be thought that kennel cough in dogs was usually caused by bacteria called Bordetella. Now, though, most cases seem to be caused by viral infections like parainfluenza or adenovirus viruses.

Signs of Kennel Cough

A dog with kennel cough has a dry, hacking cough for a few days. The coughing is sometimes accompanied by sneezing or gagging and a dog may cough more after exercise. Infections typically are not serious, can last up to three weeks, and do not usually progress in severity. Sometimes, more than one type of infectious microorganism causes the irritation of the dogโ€™s trachea and bronchii.

Preventing Kennel Cough

Just as cold viruses are very contagious to humans, kennel cough is very contagious to dogs. It's called kennel cough (also known as infectious tracheobronchitis) because it shows up more often in dogs that are closely confined, such as in the kennel environment, a dog show, or even a veterinary clinic. But a dog might also pick it up from another dog through a groomer or at the park. Also, much like people and colds, the infection usually resolves on its own.

An injection vaccination as well as nasal spray containing the Bordetella agent is available to vaccinate dogs against that bacteria. However, this vaccine would have no effect on kennel cough resulting from another source like parainfluenza. Many boarding facilities now require dogs to be up to date on the canine influenza vaccine for this reason. Because the dogโ€™s body needs time to build immunity to the vaccination, make sure you get them vaccinated a few weeks prior.

Treating Kennel Cough

Dogs typically maintain their usual behavior of sleeping, eating, and playing at their normal schedule, and eventually recover on their own. However, because a cough can also be a sign of other problems, like heart disease or heartworms, your veterinarian should examine the dog, even if youโ€™re sure it is kennel cough.

The veterinarian will determine the cause of the dogโ€™s cough by examination, history, and ruling out other issues. Kennel cough might be treated with the use of cough suppressant like Temaril P pills for dogs to ease coughs or antibiotics for a bacterial infection.

If your dog has kennel cough, even if your veterinarian decides that no medication is necessary, your dog should be back to his or her old self in about three weeks. Just allow them some time to rest and stay warm and comfortable.

Dog Vaccination For Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a persistent cough in dogs who have stayed in kennels or have come in contact with a dog who has stayed in one. Kennel coughs are not life-threatening but they can be irritating for both the dog and his owner. Usually, the disease subsides on its own after a few days. If a kennel cough lasts for more than two weeks, the dog should receive proper treatment from a vet. There are home remedies available for soothing the discomfort or even curing the disease. Vaccinations are also available and can protect dogs for up to 3 years. However, some studies have shown that vaccination does not necessarily protect a dog against diseases like kennel cough.

Time and dosage

Vaccinations are available against disease causing agents like adenovirus, parainfluenza and Bordetella. These vaccinations are administered through the intranasal route and are usually given at least 10-14 days prior to dogs who are exposed to unknown environments. The dose levels are decided after consulting with an experienced vet.

Effect of vaccination

Most vaccination provides partial immunity in the first few days after administration. Although vaccines are expected to provide long-term protection, some donโ€™t and dogs with vaccinations still contract kennel cough. There are many reasons due to which vaccinations may not work in every dog but most commonly it happens due to the immune buildup of the dog. Some have a weak immune system and are prone to diseases more than other dogs.

Protection against kennel cough

Despite its drawbacks, vaccinations happen to be one of the most effective treatment methods for kennel coughs. They are effective and provide protection for a longer period of time. Most treatment methods are done after the dog suffers from the disease. In case of a vaccination, it is given prior to the disease. In most cases, vaccinations along with a healthy diet is the best way to make sure the dog is protected from diseases like kennel cough.


Kennel coughs are dry, persistent coughs that sound irritating and cause great discomfort to the dog. Although they are not life threatening, a persistent cough which takes place for more than two weeks is a sign of serious illness. If your dog mixes with other dogs too frequently, itโ€™s best to have him vaccinated with kennel cough vaccines. There are many available in the market but they should only be given after due consultation with the vet. The vaccines are effective and in some cases, it protects the dog for up to 3 years. The intranasal route is the most common route of administration. If the cough persists even after the vaccination, the dog may have a weaker immune system and should be taken to the vet.
More on Dog Care

How to Give a Pet Oral Medications
How to Give a Cat or Dog a Shot
Upper Respiratory Infections in Cats and Dogs

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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