For many people, dogs are important members of the family. We spend so much time with them and spoil them endlessly. When any member of the family gets sick, we just want them to get feeling better right away!

Dogs get colds, too. The common equivalent is the kennel cough, which describes its infection origin. Find out if your dog has it and how to treat kennel cough.

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as kennel cough, is a respiratory infection in dogs. Just like in humans, there is a wide variety of factors that can lead to infections.

The most common cause is bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica m. Because of this name, many refer to kennel cough as Bordetella. However, most canines that contract Bordetella will only be infected by Bordetella when a virus infection compromises their immune system.

Some of the more common viruses that can lead to higher susceptibility to kennel cough include the canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, and parainfluenza virus.  

Though this is a highly contagious infection, it is essential to remember that it is rarely fatal. It is more of an inconvenience to the dog and owner.

What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

So, how do dogs become sick from kennel cough, and how can you tell if they have it? Kennel cough is transmitted through airborne bacteria or viruses, which end up in the dog's respiratory tract. The bacteria leave an infected dog through their coughing or by saliva left on toys, bowls, or any other object.

The mucus lining the respiratory tract usually traps the particles. Still, this protective system can break down, leading to the infection. Kennel cough infection will result in the inflammation of the dog's upper respiratory tract, which includes the trachea and larynx.

If the dog is exposed to the following conditions or situations, they are more likely to have a compromised immune system, leading to higher chances of kennel cough:

  • Crowded or poorly ventilated areas, such as a kennel or shelter
  • Cold temperatures
  • Dust
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Stress from travel
  • Dogs with kennel cough

If your dog is exposed, it can take up anywhere from 5 to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

Staying on the Lookout 

Kennel cough has several classic signs and symptoms to look out for. First, is a persistent and forceful cough, which sounds similar to a goose honk. The cough is consistent and can also sound like something may be stuck in their throat. For owners of small or snub-nosed breeds, this has a distinctly different sound than the "reverse sneeze." The reverse sneeze is typical for these and other breeds.

Some other symptoms of kennel cough include loss of appetite and energy, along with sneezing, runny nose, and discharge from the eyes. However, these specific symptoms usually only present in the more extreme cases of kennel cough.

How to Treat Kennel Cough?

If your dog starts showing the symptoms of kennel cough, you should first isolate him from all other animals. You should also immediately contact your veterinarian if they are not eating well or appear tired or lethargic. While most dogs will recover without the need for medical intervention, your veterinarian can let you know what is best for your dog's situation.

Your veterinarian may possibly give your dog antibiotics, cough medicine, or other medicines to help decrease recovery time or make your dog more comfortable. They will also get your dog on a follow-up schedule to help prevent any severe complications, which include pneumonia. Usually, they will treat it as a human cold- letting it run its course with an effort to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

Be sure to call the veterinarian first and let them know you suspect your dog has kennel cough. That way, they can minimize exposure to the other pets in their clinic.

Home Treatment Options

Aside from the veterinarian recommendations, you may wonder how to treat kennel cough while at home. There are a few things you can do to help make your pup even more comfortable. First, be sure to keep him or her in an area that is well-humidified.

Second, if your dog wears a collar, you should switch it out for a harness. When on a walk, this reduces the pressure on the dog's throat, helping to minimize coughing.

Many pet owners and both conventional and holistic veterinarians have also turned to honey and coconut oil for soothing the dog's throat. Dogs love the sweet taste of the honey, which has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. Coconut oil works similarly, working to kill bacteria, yeast, and viruses.

Most dogs will recover from the kennel cough infection within three weeks. However, in older dogs or ones with medical issues, recovery can sometimes take six weeks.

Be sure to keep an eye on your dog for signs of progressing illness, such as rapid breathing and not eating. If he exhibits these signs, call your vet!

How You Can Prevent Kennel Cough

The best treatment is prevention in the first place. A vaccine for kennel cough is available and comes in three different forms. The vaccine can be administered by injection, nasal mist, or orally.

Similar to the flu vaccine in humans, the kennel cough vaccine does not 100% guarantee that the dog will not get infected or treat an active infection.

It's also wise to look into dog boarding options that have a clean and healthy environment for your pet. 

The vaccine is recommended for annual administration, though dogs at higher risks should get them every six months.

How to Treat Kennel Cough

Though it sounds scary when your dog contracts kennel cough, it is crucial to know how to treat kennel cough. By utilizing home treatments in tandem with your veterinarian, you can make your beloved family pet comfortable and back to 100% as quickly as possible.

Looking for more ways to give your furry friend your all? Contact us today for more information on how we can help.