Pet Care Pro Show, Pet Health Tips

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

What can you do if your dog has kennel cough and how to protect your dog from kennel cough? In this Pet Care Pro show, Shelley and Cynthia discuss ways to prevent and manage kennel cough in your dogs.
Kennel Cough in Dogs

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Kennel Cough?

My dog keeps coughing and it’s keeping me up at night. If this sounds familiar your dog could be dealing with kennel cough. Thankfully kennel cough is seldom fatal. Canine influenza can be the most serious cause and can rarely cause fatal pneumonia. The constant coughing is really the number one symptom. The coughing can last up to three weeks which when it’s keeping you and your dog up at night that might feel like the longest few weeks of your life.

How Did My Dog Get Kennel Cough?

The thing with kennel cough in dogs is that it can be caused by different canine respiratory infections and it spreads so quickly and easily. It is very contagious and beware because it can spread to cats but rarely to humans. Anyplace dogs or cats are within 15 feet of each other when they cough can spread this disease that means kennels, dog shows, pet groomers, dog parks and even vet clinics are all common areas where kennel cough can be easily shared. It can be shared by coughing, barking, sharing toys, food and water bowls. Kennel cough can occur year-round.

What to Do If My Dog Has Kennel Cough

If you think your dog has kennel cough see your veterinarian as soon as possible the cough of course has to run its course but coughing dogs usually have a secondary bacterial infection that can be treated most often with an antibiotic such as doxycycline and a dog cough suppressant like Cough Tablets can also be very helpful to keep on hand to help any of those dogs or cats that are coughing. It’s kind of like a cough drop. These cough tablets help slow the coughing and break up the congestion. While they are sold over the counter you will need a prescription from a vet for any other antibiotic your dog may need in case of canine influenza. Your dog may require hospitalization or other supportive care.

The kennel cough vaccine is often used to give the dog’s immune system a boost. If you have kennel cough in the building you’ll want to vaccinate other dogs right away. The other dogs may still get it but if they are vaccinated chances are it will not last as long or it won’t be as bad.

How to Prevent Kennel Cough

There are three vaccination options for kennel cough the intranasal, the injectable and oral. They all work well. The internasal works quicker and can be used on pregnant females. People tend to get a better response with the intranasal then from the injectable or the oral. The intranasal kennel cough vaccine is dripped into the nose, the injectable is given under the skin with a needle and syringe and the oral vaccine for kennel cough is inserted into the dog’s mouth using a syringe. All three are effective but vaccinate for different diseases. The most important thing is to choose one and make sure all your dogs are vaccinated once a year. This isn’t the type of vaccine that is one and done. Injectable, oral and intranasal are most effective when administered every 12 months. When it comes to administering that intranasal vaccine it’s important not to rush. The intranasal kennel cough vaccine must be dripped into the nose slowly. Many people squeeze it into the nose to get it in there really good but when they squeeze or squirted it too fast the vaccine gets into the trachea where it irritates and causes coughing this leads people to think that they caused the cough or made the dog sick with that vaccine which isn’t the case. Kennel cough is not included in the 5 way injectable vaccine for dogs. It is a separate vaccine.

It’s important to be familiar with the five most common diseases that can lead to kennel cough. The five most common causes of kennel cough are Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Influenza and Distemper. It’s important to make sure your dogs and cats are vaccinated for all of these diseases. Prevention is really the key and another important part of any disease prevention plan is disinfection. Disinfectants keep your dogs living areas clean and wild bacteria and virus numbers low. Make sure the disinfectants you use are effective against kennel cough. Disinfectants such as Virkon S and Rescue worked very well.

If you have more questions on canine kennel cough or need help developing a kennel cough prevention plan, call us at 800.786.4751.

Shelley Hexom

Written by: Shelley Hexom

Content Manager

Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy® Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.