Vet Blog

Dog Kennel Cough: What It Is and How to Protect Your Pet

July 07, 2021

Do you think your dog might have kennel cough?

Or are you concerned about the possibility for your pet in the future? Kennel cough is a common illness that many dogs are affected by at least once in their lives. However, there are ways you can protect your pet from this disease and help him stay healthier, too.

In the article below, you'll learn more about kennel cough and how you can prevent your pet from catching it. Read on to learn more about this common ailment in dogs.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is the common name for a group of symptoms associated with several different kinds of infections that are found in dogs. Some of these infections can be caused by viruses, but by far the most common cause of kennel cough is a type of bacteria called Bordetella.

Kennel cough is very contagious, which means dogs can spread it to each other easily. It is even easier for puppies and older dogs to catch it, but any dog can contract kennel cough.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The most common symptom of kennel cough in dogs is a wheezing cough that sounds a little bit like the honk of a goose. If your dog is coughing often and sounds like he is honking when he does, then the likely cause is kennel cough.

Some dogs may also suffer from other respiratory symptoms, including sneezing, wheezing breaths, runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy face. Other dogs may only have the hacking cough as a symptom and nothing else. Your dog's experience with kennel cough will vary depending on his age and underlying health.

Is Kennel Cough Deadly?

No, kennel cough is not usually deadly. There is always a slight risk that any infection could turn deadly in a dog with an underlying health problem or a dog who is going through chemotherapy. Additionally, very young puppies under six weeks of age and very old dogs may be more likely to become extremely ill from a kennel cough infection.

For the most part, however, dogs are not at risk of death from this illness. They are, however, at risk of becoming quite sick for a couple of weeks, and it may take up to a month for the cough to go away.

How Is Kennel Cough Spread?

Kennel cough is airborne, which means dogs can spread it just by breathing the same air as each other. Additionally, dogs who are sick can spread kennel cough to healthy dogs through shared food and water dishes, shared toys, shared leashes, and through playing with each other.

Dogs who are kept in close contact with each other, especially in enclosed spaces, are more likely to spread kennel cough. This is where it gets its common name from since boarding kennels are one of the most common places for this disease to occur.

What Is the Treatment for Kennel Cough?

There is no specific treatment for kennel cough. However, if the cause of your dog's kennel cough is bacterial, the vet may prescribe an antibiotic to help clear it up. Even if the cause is viral, your dog may still be given an antibiotic to prevent secondary infections while he heals.

Dogs may also be given cough medication to help treat the coughing symptom associated with this disease. Additionally, your dog may get some relief through the use of a humidifier near his sleeping space while he is sick. Your vet can give you more information about treatment options if your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough.

What Is the Prevention for Kennel Cough?

The best way to prevent your dog from ever having to deal with kennel cough is to have him vaccinated for Bordetella. This vaccination can significantly reduce the risk of kennel cough in your pet, and can take away the leading cause of this disease in dogs as well.

There is still a risk of kennel cough from other causes, so make sure you always board your dog in high quality facilities that require vaccinations. This way, your dog will not be at risk of contracting this illness when kept in boarding facilities.

With the help of this information, you can learn how to recognize kennel cough in your pet and understand which situations may be more likely to cause this disease as well. Additionally, you'll be able to tell when it's time to talk to your vet about kennel cough treatments or prevention for your dog.

Kennel cough is common, but that doesn't mean your dog has to catch it. By paying attention to the prevention options available to you and preparing your dog before entering situations where kennel cough is common, you can help your pet stay healthy.