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What you need to know about Kenel Cough

by | Nov 5, 2021 | Blog

Is your dog coughing more than usual? If they are making hacking sounds (like they have a hairball stuck in their throat) and your dog recently spent a lot of time around other pups (or a commonplace like the groomer, dog park or pet store) and is showing signs of respiratory distress, they may have picked up a curable illness of Kennel cough.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is also referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella.

This curable disease is a respiratory tract infection where the dog’s trachea and bronchi are coated with mucus that traps the particles, resulting in the voice box and windpipe becoming inflamed.

Kennel cough is contracted when a dog inhales bacteria or virus particles, making it highly contagious. Think of it as a cold, but for dogs.

What Dogs Are At High Risk For Kennel Cough?

A high percentage of dogs are infected at least once during their life. Puppies experience some of the most severe complications since their immune systems aren’t fully developed. Puppies are not the only ones at risk. Older dogs and pregnant females also have decreased immune capabilities making them more susceptible to infection.

This severe respiratory disease can spread quickly in overcrowded spaces like doggie daycare, boarding facilities and groom facilities, putting the pups at a higher risk of obtaining it.

Kennel Cough Symptoms

A dog with kennel cough may be acting completely normal activity-wise and appetite-wise, but the main thing you’ll notice is their cough. Below are some additional symptoms:

  • Cough that has a honking sound

  • Fever

  • Gagging and coughing up phlegm (worse after exercise)

  • Nasal discharge

  • Severe cases may include: pneumonia, lack of appetite, lethargy and possibly death


Kennel Cough Treatment

There are two main treatments for tracheobronchitis and Bordetella. If your dog has minor symptoms, then you’ll have to let the cough run its course. In most cases, the cough will go away on its own, but your vet might prescribe antibiotics as a precaution to it getting worse. Also, an anti-inflammatory agent can be given to your dog to reduce the coughing episodes and help your dog feel more comfortable.


If it doesn’t improve over a few days or your dog isn’t eating, has a fever and is having severe respiratory problems – it may turn into pneumonia which will require additional treatment.


While your pup is recovering from kennel cough, remove any items from around their neck that can restrict their airflow. This includes collars, scarves and bandanas. Use a harness Instead of a collar for your dog on walks to prevent stimulation of the coughing reflex.

Kennel Cough Vaccine


There are three types of vaccines for this disease: injection, nasal

mist and oral. Immunizing for kennel cough is common during your pup’s regular vet visits, so be sure to ask if you expect them to spend time around other animals. The nasal mist and oral vaccine are given to dogs once a year, but if your pup is at high risk, it is recommended every six months.

Note that the Bordetella part of the vaccine takes three days to be effective. The nasal mist and oral vaccine also protect the animal sooner than an injection. While these vaccines reduce the likelihood of illness, they don’t guarantee your pup won’t get sick. Also, the vaccine does not treat active infections.

What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like?

Kennel cough is often described as a honking cough, Follow the link below to hear what it sounds like.


Author: Kimberly Alt

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