Also known as canine tracheobronchitis, kennel cough in dogs is
inflicted by multiple viruses and bacteria, and this disease is
analogous to a mild case of influenza in humans. As this disease is an
ailment involving both viral and bacterial infections, at times it
becomes difficult to diagnose it. Kennel cough is characterized by a
harsh, hacking cough and is similar to common cold in humans. This cough
in dogs can be easily transmitted from one dog to another. Kennel cough
in dogs affect the upper respiratory tract of canines, and in most
cases it is a symptom of some underlying medical conditions. Diseases
such as that of the heart and periodontal, heartworm, parasites, throat
growths, pneumonia, irritations, and allergies may manifest themselves
through kennel cough in dogs, and so it is necessary for dog owners to
be aware of all the causes, symptoms and treatment methods of this
What Causes Kennel Cough in Dogs?
There are several reasons behind the development of kennel cough in
dogs. Among these, the bacteria, 'Bordetella Bronchiseptica' and the
viruses, 'Canine Parainfluenza-3' and 'Canine Adenovirus Type 2' are the
primary reasons for kennel cough in dogs. The bacteria can form inside
the body of the dogs or can be transmitted through air or direct
contact. The virus, Canine Parainfluenza-3 affects the epithelial cells
of the respiratory tract and Canine Adenovirus Type 2 penetrate deep
into the lungs of the animals. In some cases, kennel cough also results
from a combination of these three causes and this requires immediate
medical intervention and cure.
What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs?
The incubation period for kennel cough in dogs is defined as the period
of time which starts from the initial stage when dogs contract the
infection till the symptoms develop. This period is usually 3 - 10 days.
The most prominent symptom of kennel cough in dogs is a persistent dry
hacking cough. At times the cough may sound so bad or severe that you
may feel that your pet may cough out everything it has taken in his last
meal, and at times it does happen. It is known as retching. This may be
followed by a watery nasal discharge, sneezing, snorting or gagging.
When the ailment is mild, dogs generally stay active and have normal
appetite, however, if the treatment is delayed for too long, then the
kennel cough symptoms may progress to lethargy, fever and pneumonia.
Although rare, but kennel cough has also resulted in death in too severe
and critical cases.
How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs?
Kennel cough in puppies and dogs, in most cases, subside without the aid
of any medical intervention. It takes about 7 - 14 days for it to get
resolved by itself and there is no cure as such for this ailment.
Various kennel cough medicines and other natural treatment methods can
be administered in order to get symptomatic relief and keep the pets
As the ailment is due to bacterial or viral infection or both, kennel
cough remedies include antibiotics as the first line of treatment. The
dosage of the drugs depends on the age and weight of the pets. It is not
at all advisable to administer antibiotics for kennel cough in dogs
without the knowledge of a qualified vet as these medicines should not
be taken as mere 'over-the-counter types'. So, consult a vet and follow
the recommended dosages and also keep a check on the improvement of the
The vet may also prescribe a certain dosage of vitamin C supplements for
your pet. Vitamin C is known for its effective anti-infection
qualities, and it is beneficial in treating kennel cough in dogs. Take
care that the dosage does not cross its required level as it may result
in irritable bowel syndrome.
Dog kennel cough vaccine involves two options. The first one is for
improving the dog's immune system by giving intranasal vaccine. This is
to prevent any future occurrences of kennel cough in dogs. Remember that
the administration of this vaccine should be done by a qualified vet.
Injectable kennel cough vaccine is another alternative for kennel cough treatment in dogs who are aggressive in nature.
Apart from these treatments for kennel cough in dogs, there is another
option known as inoculation. In this procedure, a serum (an amber,
watery fluid, rich in proteins, that separates out when blood
coagulates) is usually administered inside the dog's body. This serum
works towards strengthening the dog's immune system by boosting the
disease-fighting cells to get rid of all the infections. It is similar
to the intranasal vaccine, however, it is administered intravenously.
Kennel Cough Home Remedies
Letting your dog sleep better and more is an effective kennel cough
remedy. Feed your pet with 1 or 1 ½ tsp of honey everyday. This will
relief the pain caused by coughing.
Keeping a home humidifier or a vaporizer close to the dog's kennel,
crate or resting place is an effective method when it comes to home
remedies for kennel cough in dogs. This will provide moisture and loosen
up the dry, hacking cough. You can use chopped cloves of garlic or
essential oils of lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus in the vaporizer.
Make tea using the herb Yerba Santa (sticky aromatic leaves used in
treating bronchial and pulmonary illnesses) and add a few drops to the
dog's water. This herb is known for its expectorant and decongestant
qualities, and so is beneficial in treating a canine kennel cough.
Alternatively, licorice root and peppermint can also be made into a
strong tea and administered in the same way.
Keep your pet warm and out of any kind of stress. Using a harness is better than a dog collar.
Encourage your pet to drink plenty of water. Your pet may also develop a
sore throat as one of the symptoms of kennel cough, so in this case it
is advisable to feed him soft food.