Curing Kennel Cough

Many years ago when I bought my dog there were some things about dog ownership I knew and some things I did not.  “Kennel cough” was one of the topics that I was to learn a great deal of information about.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough may be a result of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, Bordetella or Bordetellosis.   It is an airborne virus that can be spread from nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing or simply direct contact with another animal (not just dogs). Dogs may be more likely to have kennel cough if they have been boarded in a kennel or in contact with another dog, say at a dog park or visiting friends and family members.  They may have gotten it from being in a shelter, traveling or exposure to cold temperatures or cigarette smoke.  The discharge from the infected animal is then trapped in your dogs or other pet’s mucus, which is designed to protect them but doesn’t always work.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

  • Persistent, forceful  cough
  • Fever
  • Gasping for breathe
  • A “reverse sneeze”
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing until your dog vomits
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased energy level

Treating kennel cough

If your dog or puppy exhibits these symptoms, especially after being in high risk situations like boarding, contact your veterinarian.  They may want to prescribe an antibiotic, or other treatments depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Make sure your dog or puppy gets plenty of rest in a quiet, dust free environment.

Check your dog’s collar to make sure that it is not too tight.  You may want to switch to harness during the illness to alleviate some of the pressure that regular collars can put on an already sensitive area.

(See this article on choosing a collar for more information on the harness)

Run a humidifier or even just a pan of water to add moisture to the air to help your dog with breathing.

Tiny amounts of honey (no more than a teaspoon mixed with food) can be soothing to your dog’s throat.  Other home remedies include adding Vitamin C and Echinacea.  Consult your vet for information on effectiveness and dosages.

Symptoms may last 10 days; however your dog may be contagious for 6 to 14 weeks so keep your dog away from other animals.   Older dogs, especially those with other health problems may take longer to recover.

Make sure to clean out your dog’s kennel, water and food dishes regularly during illness and sanitize it after use during illness.

Other precautions include immunizations, which can begin as early at 3 weeks old.

If the symptoms do not subside or disappear within three weeks you should consult your veterinarian again to determine if there are additional reasons for your pet’s symptoms.  It is very important to attend to this illness as soon as possible, as it can develop into more severe infections or illnesses.


* Our article offers information and opinions and is not a substitute for professional veterinary prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your veterinarian before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your Veterinarian can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your pet’s unique needs or diagnose your pet’s particular medical history.

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