• December 22nd, 2021
    Written by: Kimberly

    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.

    Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs

    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:

    • Forceful Coughing - This is the most common and obvious sign of kennel cough. The cough will happen persistently, and be loud. Many dog owners and vets describe it as sounding similar to a goose honk, or it may seem like your dog is choking on something.
    • Runny Nose and Sneezing - Some dogs will also display a runny nose and sneezing as their body reacts against the virus.
    • Fever - Kennel cough will sometimes have a low grade fever. If the fever does get high, you should immediately take your dog to the vet.
    • Loss of Appetite - Very rarely, kennel cough can result in a loss of appetite until it goes away.

    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.