Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs? Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

For dogs who socialize, there is a risk of contracting serious illnesses and diseases. Luckily vaccines can help to prevent this. Our Crystal Lake vets talk about the causes and symptoms of kennel cough in dogs, how your pup will be diagnosed, and how you can lower the risk of infection.

Kennel Cough in Dogs: How Does It Happen?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, is a potentially serious and infectious disease. Kennel cough is a common respiratory disease seen in dogs and is typically caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus which attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract leading to inflammation and irritation of the upper airway. Under normal circumstances, this respiratory disease isn't serious for dogs that are healthy overall, but it is possible that it can lead to more severe secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system.

Kennel Cough is named after the highly contagious nature of this condition, which spreads most aggressively in places where pets are in constant close contact with each other such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is spread through the droplets of saliva from an infected dog coughing. While most commonly spread directly, it can also happen indirectly through toys and dishes.

Symptoms Experienced by Dogs With Kennel Cough

The main symptom that you may notice in a dog with kennel cough may be a non-productive persistent dry cough that is known to sound strikingly similar to a goose's honk. There are other signs of kennel cough in dogs which can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.

The best option for a dog with suspected kennel cough is to isolate it from any other dogs and to call your vet in Crystal Lake to get advice on what steps to take next.

If you have a healthy dog who only experiences mild symptoms, your vet may recommend that you allow them to rest as much as possible. Due to the incredibly contagious nature of the condition, however, your vet may recommend simply isolating your pet from other dogs until the symptoms subside. 

If your vet determines that the symptoms are too aggressive, they may suggest bringing your pup in for treatment.

Diagnosing Kennel Cough in Dogs 

Unfortunately, the process of elimination is sometimes the easiest way to diagnose this illness. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other and more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough. Because of this, there is a chance that your vet will take the time to examine your pet for signs of a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing can also be a sign of many other conditions, such as canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Your vet will use the results of the wellness exam as well as any diagnostic tests that they might have performed to provide you with the diagnosis of kennel cough in your dog.

Our Crystal Lake vets can see emergency cases and referrals at our pet hospital. We offer veterinary care for both coughing and breathing issues as well as infectious diseases. 

Treatment Options for Dogs with Kennel Cough

Luckily, kennel cough is incredibly straightforward to treat if your dog is a healthy adult. Your vet may suggest avoiding the use of medications unnecessarily and may recommend allowing your dog to recover naturally.

For dogs that might be experiencing more severe symptoms, your vet may suggest being proactive and moving ahead with treatment by prescribing your dog antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief.

Neck collars are not suggested while your dog is recovering from kennel cough, it is also recommended to switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks or to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time to alleviate some of your dog's symptoms. 

On average it typically takes about a week or two for your dog to recover from the symptoms of kennel cough. If you notice that your pup's symptoms are persisting for longer then it may be a good idea to schedule a follow-up veterinary appointment as there have been known cases of kennel cough turning into pneumonia.

Preventing Kennel Cough in Dogs

You should have your dog vaccinated if you may bring them anywhere that other dogs may also visit. The kennel cough vaccine is commonly known as the Bordetella vaccination.

While this vaccine could help prevent kennel cough it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough could be caused by various pathogens.

Three forms of the vaccine are available injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If the kennel cough vaccine is recommended for your pet, your veterinarian will choose the most appropriate form.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Is your dog showing concerning signs pointing to a veterinary emergency? Contact our vets to have your companion seen at our specialty and emergency animal hospital in Crystal Lake.

New Patients Welcome

Companion Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital is accepting new patients! Our specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions in Crystal Lake.

Contact Us

(815) 479-9119 Contact