Kennel Cough

What is Kennel Cough?

Also called Canine Cough, Bordetellosis and Infectious Tracheobronchitis.

Dogs develop coughs too and when we hear one of our own struggling to breath and walking around the house with a hacking cough, so much so that you think they are going to throw up everything they have eaten that day. They are unable to get any rest because of the cough and it quickly drains their energy.

This is considered a respiratory infection caused by several infectious agents working to damage and irritates the lining of the trachea and upper bronchii. Once treated the tracheal lining heals quickly. The most common organisms associated are the bacteria called Bordetella Bronchiseptica and two virus called Para influenza virus and adenovirus.

Your wondering how your precious pet got this nasty cough?

These organisms travel airborne and are tiny microscopic water vapors or dust particles. This is why the disease is so common. Wherever there are a large number of dogs confined together, the disease is likely to spread. The organisms attach to the lining of the trachea and upper airway and find an nice warm, moist surface to hibernate and damage cells they infect.

Symptoms and Treatment

Many dogs have signs of coughing and watery nasal discharge. This may last seven to ten days and will not require medication and will just go away. It is always best to have your dog examined by your veterinarian if you feel your dog may have kennel cough to avoid serious respiratory diseases.

Treatment options are available depending on the severity of the disease. The most common and mild form of the disease may or may not be treated with antibiotics. In more severe cases where your pet is not eating, running a fever, or showing signs of pneumonia, antibiotics would be used. There are many treatment choices available. Steroids, cough suppressants, bronchodilators and aerosol therapy can be used.

Always consult your veterinarian before making any decisions. Keep in mind that treatment with vaccinations can significantly weaken a dog's immune system, rendering it more susceptible to developing long term health complications.


Vaccinating with the commercial kennel cough vaccine alone (contains only the Bordetella agent) may not be fully protective because of other infectious agents that are involved with the disease. Other vaccines such as Para influenza and Adenovirus are part of the routine vaccinations for our pets and are generally given once per year. One type of Bordetella vaccine is the intra-nasal Bordetella vaccine and generally works quicker than the typical injection.

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