What is Kennel Cough? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Respiratory System of the Dog
Infectious canine tracheobronchitis or simply kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. Inflammation of bronchi and trachea is the typical symptom of this illness. Usually, it affects dogs around the world and infects dogs at least once during their lifetime. Bordetella and trancheobronchitis are the medical terms of this disease. If it affects young puppies, the symptoms and complications will be severe. Immune system of puppies is underdeveloped and it is still strengthening. This is the reason behind the severity of complications among puppies.

Besides puppies, older dogs and pregnant bitches are also at greater risk because of decreased immune capabilities. Lowered immunity is the major cause of this infection.

Causes of Kennel Cough

Canine cough is a very complex disease. Mycoplasma, parainfluenza and Bordella bronchiseptica are the most common causes of infectious canine tracheobronchitis. It is also caused by canine adenovirus and reovirus. However, parainfluenza virus is the most common cause of tracheobronchitis. If your dog is infected by this virus, the symptoms will be gentle and it can last less than a week. However, if there is more than one organism combined, the symptoms will be more severe.

Clinical signs of dog cough appear within 3-4 days after initial exposure of Bordella bronchiseptica bacteria. If the bacteria appear with other organisms such as parainfluenza- bordatella infection combined, the
symptoms may appear for around 3 weeks.

The following are the major symptoms of dog coughing.

* Watery nasal discharge
* Retching
* Coughing with honking sound
* Dry hacking cough

If the infection is very severe, your dog may experience symptoms such as pneumonia, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and even death. Dogs with less immunity are more vulnerable to severe symptoms of this disease.


Dog Anatomy
Pet doctors diagnose this illness mainly on the basis of type of disease and the history of your dog. You must provide the complete history of your dog to the pet doctor regarding the health of your dog and onset of symptoms. Usually, pet doctors conduct a complete blood profile, which include complete blood count, chemical blood profile and urinalysis to diagnose the disease. Besides these blood tests, bacterial culture and viral isolation are also conducted for finding out the cause of canine cough. These tests are essential for finding the individual agents that cause canine cough.


Treatment for dog cough is prescribed on the basis of severity of illness. Mostly, dogs can recover from this infection without any treatment. However, you must monitor your dog to prevent worsening of symptoms. Generally, antibiotics are not needed if the disease is most common and uncomplicated. Just like a common cold in humans, canine tracheobronchitis disease can also be left alone if the symptoms are minor. In order to reduce the severity of the disease, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory agent. This will make your dog more comfortable. If your dog is not eating, showing signs of severe respiratory problems or suffering from fever, antibiotics will be effective.

Natural Treatment for Canine Cough
Vitamin C

If you do not like to give antibiotics to your dog, you can try for a number of natural treatment options. Vitamin C is highly helpful for improving and strengthening the immunity of your pet. So, your canine will be able to combat the disease faster and more effectively. When you provide vitamin C to your dog, it is also essential to provide him plenty of water, which is helpful for moving nutrients through his system.


Honey is effective for soothing your pet's throat. Intense throat irritation is the major cause of dog cough. Your pet's throat becomes dry, swollen, cracked and extremely sore due to constant hacking and coughing. Honey is a rich source of nutrients that helps your dog to combat the disease. You can provide him a half to one teaspoon honey several times a day.

Herbal Tea

This is another natural treatment option for canine cough. Small amounts of herbal tea can be mixed with your dog's food. Licorice root is usually used for making tea.

Help your Pet to Recover from Cough

If your dog is suffering from cough, you can do some effective activities to help him more relaxed. Besides providing him medicine and treatment, you can do a number of other things to keep him comfortable. Use of a humidifier is effective for providing him relief from irritated lungs. You can also use a steamy room to clear the airways of your pet.

It is also essential to keep your dog away from bonfires and campfires. Also, ensure to avoid smoke around your dog. Smoke irritates your pet's lungs and the disease may become very severe. Instead of a collar, use a harness when you are taking your dog outside for walking. Collar applies extra stress on the neck of your pet. This extra stress will further irritate the lungs of your pet and the coughing become much worse.

Recovering from dog cough is very difficult if your dog is anxious, stressed or nervous. Constant anxiety will adversely affect the immune system of your dog. Therefore, you must provide him a stress-free environment. You must avoid everything that may make your dog stressed. Cleaning of your pet's ears or trimming his nails, etc can make him more anxious, so it should be avoided.

Preventive Measures

Canine cough is contagious and the treatment can be costly. Frequent visit to the vet is essential for curing this illness completely. If you are a pet business owner, the outbreak of canine cough can be more devastating. You can protect your canine from this disease by providing him intranasal injectable vaccines. Your vet can recommend an appropriate vaccine for your pet. Some vaccines cause major side effects to your dog. Therefore, vaccination should be adopted only if your dog is in greater risk.

Generally, kennel cough does not cross over humans. However, if your immune system is very weak, you are at risk of infection. So, you must be careful while contacting with sick dogs. It is better to keep children away from such dogs. If you cannot avoid contact, you must take measures to protect yourself from infection.