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What is Kennel Cough and How Do Dogs Get It?

As dog parents, it’s common that we get quite concerned when our pups seem to be acting a bit off. It’s also usual that when they do seem sick, we head straight to Google to play the dangerous game of veterinarian. While hearing your dog make unusual noises, such as coughing or choking can be scary, it is possible that Fido may just have a case of Kennel Cough.



Sick dog with a blue ice pack on its head

Kennel Cough, also known as “canine infectious tracheobronchitis” is a common respiratory disease that a dog can catch by inhaling certain virus particles, similar to a human cold. It is a virus caused most often by a bacterium called Bordetella Bronchiseptica m. Unfortunately, it’s easier for a dog to catch a case of this disease if they are already suffering from another virus such as canine adenovirus, canine herpes virus, parainfluenza, canine distemper or canine reovirus due to their lowered immune system.

If you are unsure whether your dog may have it or not, here are a few Symptoms to look out for:

  • Persistent coughing, similar to a “honking” noise
  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Eye Discharge
  • Low Fever
  • Lethargy

There are also certain factors that make it easier for a dog to contract a case of kennel cough like exposure to poorly ventilated conditions, cold temperatures, exposure to dust or smoke particles and travel-induced stress. If you know that your dog is exposed to factors such as this, don’t worry, there are a few things you can do as a dog parent to prevent your dog from catching it.


We certainly agree that it is scary anytime our dogs are not feeling well, but luckily, kennel cough usually goes away on its own in about two to three weeks. There are some medications such as a round of antibiotics which can also be administered if you would like to speed up their recovery time.

One of the most important things to recognize if your dog has kennel cough is that it is very contagious. Keep your dog away from other animals as best as possible, especially if you have other pets.


The most common way to prevent your pup from getting kennel cough is getting them the vaccine to prevent bordetella bacterium. It can be administered orally, intranasally or as an injection. It is likely that your dog has already received this vaccination, especially if they are frequently boarded, groomed, attend a doggy daycare, etc. because most places with exposure to large groups of dogs require it. Do keep in mind though that it is important to regularly check in with your veterinarian, because the vaccine requires a booster as well every six months to a year. Though the vaccine is a great option to prevent kennel cough, it is not always 100% effective.

Keeping your dog in a well humidified area, preventing their exposure to smoke and other unpurified air as well as decreasing their travel are all other great ways to prevent Fido from kennel cough.

I hope you found this look at Kennel Cough helpful and informative. If you think that your dog has kennel cough, or any other possible disease, don’t freak out!

Please promptly visit your veterinarian to ensure that your dog gets care of, and can be treated.

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