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What You Need To Know About Kennel Cough

We all do our best to care for our pets and keep them healthy, but sometimes there are sneaky viruses or preventable conditions that we aren't all aware of that we should learn more about to ensure a longer, healthier lifespan for our furry friends.


Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease commonly seen in dogs. They usually contract it in highly populated areas like doggie daycares, dog parks, boarding facilities, training groups, or dog shows.

It's spread through airborne droplets, contaminated surfaces like water bowls, or direct contact. Luckily, kennel cough is treatable in most dogs. However, in very young puppies, it can be more concerning.


Kennel Cough: Symptoms To Look Out For

Not every dog displays the same symptoms, but as the name suggests, a strong "honking" cough is the characteristic sign of kennel cough. Here is a list of all the symptoms to watch out for:

  • a strong cough

  • sneezing

  • runny nose

  • low fever

  • lethargy

  • loss of appetite

Kennel cough is easily treatable in healthy dogs; however, if you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to call your local urgent care vet immediately and have your dog seen. Some of the above-listed symptoms, even the cough, could be a sign of something more serious.


Please note that if you have multiple pets within your household and one shows signs of kennel cough, it could very well mean all dogs have been exposed.

How Is Kennel Cough Treated?

Most mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest and home isolation. But depending on your pup, your urgent care vet may prescribe a cough suppressant to ease symptoms or some antibiotics if there is a concern of a secondary infection.


Your urgent care vet may also recommend that you use a harness instead of a collar on walks. If your pup has kennel cough, a collar could irritate their trachea, aggravate the cough, and possibly even cause damage.


Kennel Cough Prevention

A vaccine is available for bordetella bacterium, which is the most common cause of kennel cough. And many boarding facilities, doggie daycares, and group training facilities require one before coming in.


Your urgent care vet will most likely recommend that any dog exposed to large groups of pups should get the vaccine. It can be administered orally, intravenously, or as an injection. Depending on how the vaccine is administered, expect your dog to receive two doses two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months to a year.


The vaccine is only good for prevention against kennel cough caused by bordetella. There are other agents that do cause the illness, so be aware that the vaccine may not prevent your dog from catching the disease. If you notice your pup coughing or if you plan to introduce your dog to large groups of pets, speak with your veterinarian prior. It will not only protect your pup but also protect others.


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