Kennel Cough in Dogs

I’m sure many people have heard of Kennel Cough in dogs, but did you know that Kennel Cough does not just apply to dogs who are staying in a kennel? In fact, Kennel Cough is one of the more common diseases in veterinary medicine. In the following article, I will review just what Kennel Cough is, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated. Perhaps most importantly, how to prevent or minimize your dog’s chance of getting Kennel Cough at all.

Kennel Cough has a technical term but it has just a slight wrinkle to it. True Kennel Cough is actually called Bordetella Bronchiseptica. It is a bacteria that is spread through aerosolized droplets from a dog who has the disease. For this reason, it is often called Kennel Cough because dogs staying in indoor Boarding facilities (ie: kennels) were prone to catching the disease from an infected dog staying in the same room. The bacteria is very similar to a human condition called “whooping cough” whose actual name is Bordetella Pertussis. Ready for the wrinkle? It turns out there are so many causes of infectious diseases which produce a similar clinical appearance that the name kennel cough has been replaced with “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex”.

So, what does Kennel Cough look like? Typically, dogs with Kennel Cough will have a dry, hacking cough.  Some dogs will additionally cough up white foam. Dogs with Kennel Cough should still be eating, playful, and energetic, just with this scary-sounding hack many times a day. In most cases, a history of possible exposure accompanies this symptom. A Physical Examination by your veterinarian will reveal clear lung sounds but in many cases, the patient will cough when rubbing their throat/trachea. Fortunately, Kennel Cough is often fairly easily treated. Antibiotics to eliminate the infection and medications to suppress the cough can help alleviate the uncomfortable feeling your pet is experiencing.

It is extremely important to note that to the non-trained veterinarian, many other more concerning diseases may look like Kennel Cough. Among them are canine influenza, pneumonia, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. If misdiagnosed and left untreated, these diseases can be serious and even fatal.

Can I protect my dog from getting Kennel Cough? In many cases, the answer is yes!  There is a commonly available vaccine to help protect dogs. Depending on the type of vaccine used, this could be given orally, intranasally, or by injection under the skin. The oral and nasal vaccines begin to start protecting almost immediately, the injectable may take up to two weeks and require a single booster vaccine a few weeks after the first if being given for the first time. It is also important to note that the vaccine does not protect against all types of bacteria and virus which result in “canine infectious respiratory disease complex” and other vaccines for canine influenza are available if your dog is at risk.

Veterinarian For Dog Kennel Cough

If you would like to learn more about Kennel Cough or wish to start or booster your dog with vaccines to help protect them from getting it; I recommend scheduling an appointment at one of our Veterinary Hospitals. With good science behind us and a lot of love, we can help keep your pet’s tail wagging for years to come and protect against some of the more common or serious diseases that affect them.


Jeffrey Stupine VMD

Medical Director

World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals