How Serious is Kennel Cough for Your Dog

What is Kennel Cough?

This is a condition that became associated with ‘Kennels’ as dog would occasionally return from a stay in a boarding kennel with a dry persistent cough, especially if pressure was placed on the throat.

The correct name for Kennel Cough is Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis and it is now often referred to as ‘Canine cough’ because it is only a condition affecting dogs.

Although the symptoms are irritating to both dogs and their owners, most of the time it is not a serious condition, and many dogs will recover without treatment.


Regular annual vaccination is the most effective way to prevent this condition and can be included with the annual health check performed by our vet team. Younger and older animals are especially vulnerable so it is important to start early in life and maintain their protection each year.

Kennels and show societies will need to see a record of vaccination when you board or show your pets so ensure your vaccination records are updated each year.

There are several forms of vaccine for kennel cough: one that is injected, one that is delivered as a nasal mist. Speak to our vets about which is best for your dog.

Causes and Symptoms

Kennel cough can have multiple causes. One of the most common causes is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica. Dogs that become infected with Bordetella are often infected with a virus at the same time as they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. The mixed bacterial and viral infection results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe) resulting in the dry persistent cough.

There are a number of factors that can weaken a dog’s resistance to these kennel cough infection like stressed and conditions where multiple animals are in close proximity (such as are found in many kennels and shelters) and anything which irritates the respiratory system (persistent barking, cold, dust, smoke).

The typical symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful, dry cough which can be triggered by pressure on the throat. Some dogs cough so violently that they may gag and vomit up some mucus.

Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms of illness, including sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge.


Because kennel cough is so contagious, if you think your dog may be infected you should keep them away from other animals and speak with one of our veterinarians.

Most cases of kennel cough will clear up eventually without treatment. However, medications can speed up the recovery time and minimize the symptoms your dog experiences during the course of infection.  Treatment may include antibiotics that target the kennel cough bacteria and medicines to suppress the irritating cough.

Keeping your dog in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar may help reduce the symptoms.

Most dogs with kennel cough recover completely within three weeks, though it can take up to six weeks in older dogs or those with other medical conditions.

There are rare cases of dogs actually dying from this disease. But as they say "Prevention is always better than cure!"


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