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Understanding and Treating Kennel Cough in Dogs


Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that affects dogs. It is commonly spread in places where dogs congregate, such as boarding kennels, doggy daycares, and dog parks. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and prevention measures for kennel cough.

Causes and Transmission

Kennel cough is typically caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine adenovirus. These pathogens can spread through the air when an infected dog coughs or sneezes, as well as through direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The first signs of kennel cough in dogs often include a dry, hacking cough, which may sound like something is stuck in their throat. Other symptoms may include sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and a mild fever. It’s important to note that kennel cough can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual dog’s immune system and overall health.

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, it is best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The vet will typically perform a physical examination and may recommend additional tests, such as a tracheal wash or blood work, to rule out other respiratory conditions.

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Treatment Options

In most cases, kennel cough will resolve on its own within two to three weeks, similar to a common cold in humans. However, there are several treatment options available to help alleviate the symptoms and expedite recovery:

  • Rest: Provide your dog with plenty of rest and a stress-free environment to aid in their recovery.
  • Cough Suppressants: Your veterinarian may prescribe cough suppressants to help reduce the frequency and intensity of your dog’s cough.
  • Antibiotics: If the veterinarian suspects a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary complications.
  • Supportive Care: Ensure your dog stays hydrated and offer soft, easily digestible food to soothe their throat.

Prevention and Vaccination

Preventing kennel cough is crucial, especially if your dog frequently interacts with other dogs. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against kennel cough. The vaccine can be administered as an injectable or intranasal form and is typically recommended for dogs who are regularly exposed to high-risk environments.

Additionally, practicing good hygiene and avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated areas can help reduce the risk of infection. Regularly disinfecting your dog’s toys, bedding, and food bowls can also minimize the spread of pathogens.

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Can Humans Get Kennel Cough?

While rare, it is possible for humans to contract a mild form of kennel cough from infected dogs. However, the infection usually resolves on its own without requiring any specific treatment. It’s important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly after handling an infected dog, to minimize the risk of transmission.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

If your dog’s symptoms worsen or persist beyond two weeks, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian. Additionally, if your dog experiences severe coughing fits, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, or shows signs of distress, immediate veterinary care is necessary.


Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection in dogs that can be easily transmitted in high-risk environments. While it usually resolves on its own, proper care and treatment can help alleviate symptoms and expedite recovery. Vaccination and good hygiene practices are essential for preventing the spread of kennel cough and protecting our furry friends from this contagious illness.

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