When it comes to dogs, kennel cough is like the common cold for people. The scientific name is canine infectious tracheobronchitis, and it is a relatively common illness that is usually harmless. It is, however, extremely contagious and will spread from one dog to the next quickly.
The Bordetella vaccine is successful in preventing kennel cough caused by the bordetella bacterium, and is therefore recommended for dogs that are frequently in large groups, such as dogs that often go to daycare or board. But other virus strains can also lead to kennel cough, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms.
Dogs catch kennel cough when they breathe in the bacteria or virus, similar to the way people catch a cold. The resulting kennel cough is your dog’s immune response as her body gets rid of the virus in her system.
Certain situations can increase your dog’s risk of catching the virus and having a significant response to it, including cold temperatures, poorly ventilated spaces with many dogs, dust, cigarette smoke, and stress from things like travel. If your dog does get kennel cough, you may notice:
Kennel cough will usually clear within a week or two after the first symptoms. During these weeks, the best treatment is rest, although your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics in some cases if there is concern about a secondary infection. You should also consider using a harness on walks while your dog is recovering to avoid putting any unnecessary strain on her throat.
You will also need to keep your dog away from others until the kennel cough goes away, or she could spread the infection. This is probably unavoidable if you have multiple dogs in the household, but you should not take your dog to daycare, the dog park, or boarding in the meantime.