Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that can affect dogs. It’s the common cold for canines, but unlike our colds, it’s highly contagious and can quickly spread from dog to dog. If your pup gets kennel cough, there are steps you can take to help them recover quickly and ensure they don’t spread it to other pups. Keeping your dog healthy is an important part of being a pet owner, so here’s everything you must know about kennel cough—including how to prevent it in the first place!

Prevention is the best way to avoid kennel cough in your dog.

  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.
  • Wash your dog’s paws after they have been in contact with other dogs.
  • Keep your dog away from other dogs if you know they are sick or have just been vaccinated against kennel cough.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread by dogs, cats and humans. It can be spread by coughing or sneezing, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face. The disease may also be transmitted to you through your pet’s saliva when they lick you while they have kennel cough.

Signs and Symptoms of Kennel Cough.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It is caused by bacteria and spread when an infected dog coughs, sneezes or even just breathes. The bacteria can live on the ground for months and remain infectious to other dogs even after they are no longer active in the environment.

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The signs of kennel cough include: coughing; sneezing; nasal discharge; lack of appetite; lack of energy; runny eyes (epiphora); runny nose (rhinitis); swollen lymph nodes under the chin and above each elbow joint and fever (can be mild to high).

Causes of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is caused by bacteria, parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus, bordetella bronchiseptica and canine distemper virus. These germs are found in the upper respiratory tract of infected animals and can spread to other dogs through airborne droplets or direct contact with nasal discharge from an infected dog. Kennel cough is also contagious to humans.

If your dog has kennel cough, you may notice that he has a runny nose or thick nasal discharge that is clear yellow or greenish-yellow in color. He may have watery eyes and an increased appetite for food or water. The coughing sound may be soft at first but will become more intense as time goes on; this can last for up to two weeks after symptoms begin showing themselves

Diagnosing Kennel Cough

Diagnosis of kennel cough is made by taking a thorough history, performing a physical examination and conducting diagnostic tests.

  • How long has your dog been coughing?
  • Has he had a cough before? If so, was it like this one? How long did it last? What made it better or worse? When did it begin to improve (or not)?
  • Physical examination: Your vet will check their heart rate, lungs and chest for signs of infection; listen to the lungs for wheezing or crackling sounds and examine the nose and throat for evidence of nasal discharge or inflammation.
  • Diagnostic studies: These may include X-rays or blood tests to rule out other causes of cough such as pneumonia, heart disease or lung cancer.
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Treating Kennel Cough

Most dogs will recover without antibiotics, but in some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to treat the secondary bacterial infections that can occur. Your dog will be prescribed antibiotics for a period of time to ensure that the infection is gone and prevent it from coming back.


While kennel cough is not usually dangerous, it can be uncomfortable for your dog and heartbreaking for you to watch. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help prevent your dog from contracting kennel cough. First and foremost, make sure that every dog in your household is up-to-date on their vaccinations. You should also make sure to wash your hands after handling other dogs, especially if they were coughing or sneezing around you.