Kennel Cough: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. It’s particularly common in areas where dogs are housed together, such as kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments of kennel cough can help you keep your dog healthy and happy. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, contact Pets Furst Urgent Care at (215) 755-1000 for professional advice and care.


Causes of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is primarily caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The most common culprit is the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. However, several viruses can also contribute to the condition, including canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine distemper virus.

Dogs contract kennel cough through direct contact with infected dogs, airborne droplets from coughing or sneezing, or contact with contaminated surfaces such as food bowls, toys, and bedding. High-density environments like boarding kennels and dog parks increase the risk of exposure, making vaccination an important preventative measure.

Contributing Factors

Several factors can increase a dog’s susceptibility to kennel cough, including:

  • Age: Puppies and older dogs have weaker immune systems.
  • Vaccination status: Unvaccinated dogs are more prone to infection.
  • Stress: Stressful situations can weaken a dog’s immune response.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Dogs with respiratory issues are at higher risk.
  • Environment: Poor ventilation and overcrowded conditions facilitate the spread of the disease.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Recognizing the symptoms of kennel cough is crucial for early detection and treatment. The most common symptom is a persistent, dry, hacking cough that often sounds like a goose honk. This cough can be triggered by excitement, exercise, or pressure on the trachea, such as from a collar.

Additional Symptoms

In addition to the characteristic cough, dogs with kennel cough may exhibit other symptoms, including:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek veterinary care promptly. Call Pets Furst Urgent Care at (215) 755-1000 to schedule an appointment.

Treatment of Kennel Cough

Treatment for kennel cough typically focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing secondary infections. While mild cases often resolve on their own, more severe cases may require medical intervention.

Home Care

For mild cases, supportive home care can help your dog recover more comfortably. Ensure your dog gets plenty of rest and avoids strenuous activity. Keep your dog well hydrated and have fresh water available at all times. You can try using a humidifier to soothe irritated airways and keep your dog away from other dogs in the home to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. 

Veterinary Care

In more severe cases, veterinary treatment may include antibiotics to treat or prevent bacterial infections, cough suppressants to reduce coughing and discomfort, anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation and soothe the respiratory tract and bronchodilators, or medications to open airways and ease breathing. 

It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and complete the entire course of prescribed medications. If your dog’s symptoms worsen or do not improve, contact Pets Furst Urgent Care at (215) 755-1000 for further evaluation and treatment.

Preventing Kennel Cough

Prevention is key to protecting your dog from kennel cough. Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of infection. There are two main types of kennel cough vaccines: injectable and intranasal. Both types help protect against Bordetella bronchiseptica and some of the viruses that cause kennel cough.

  • Vaccination: Puppies typically receive their first kennel cough vaccine at 8 to 16 weeks of age. Regular booster shots are necessary to maintain immunity, usually given annually or semi-annually depending on your dog’s risk level.
  • Avoiding high-risk areas: Limit your dog’s exposure to kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons during outbreaks.
  • Good hygiene: Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s living area, bowls, and toys.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Ensure your dog has a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary check-ups to maintain a strong immune system.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

While mild cases of kennel cough can often be managed at home, certain situations require immediate veterinary attention. Contact Pets Furst Urgent Care if your dog exhibits persistent cough, difficulty breathing, high fever, loss of appetite, or lethargy. 

Protecting Your Dog from Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a common yet preventable condition that affects dogs of all ages. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking prompt veterinary care, you can help your dog recover quickly and reduce the risk of complications. Remember to keep your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date and practice good hygiene to minimize the chances of infection. If you have any concerns about kennel cough or need professional advice, call Pets Furst Urgent Care at (215) 755-1000. Your pet’s health and well-being are our focus, and we are here to provide the best possible care for your furry family members.