Kennel Cough In Dogs: What You Need To Know Why Your Is Coughing

Dog Coughing

Kennel Cough In Dogs: What You Need To Know Why Your Is Coughing


The canine respiratory illness known as kennel cough affects kennel dogs. It is brought on by various bacteria and viruses, most of which work together to bring about the condition.

There are several names for kennel cough, including infected canine tracheobronchitis and infectious canine tracheitis. Kennel cough is also referred to as canine respiratory illness complex.

What Really Are The Causes Of Kennel Cough?

The condition known as kennel cough is highly contagious and has the potential to spread rapidly amongst dogs.

Even though it is exceedingly contagious, healthy dogs typically do not suffer from any major complications due to the condition.

Kennel cough can actually affect dogs of any age if exposed to it; however, young pups and elderly dogs with a compromised immune system due to other health disorders are more likely to experience serious symptoms.

There may be a single pathogen responsible for kennel cough, or it may result from many different bacteria and viruses working together. These are the following:

  • It is extremely uncommon for humans to be infected with bordetella bronchoseptica, yet this bacteria is closely related to the bacteria that are responsible for whooping cough.
  • Pseudomonas species
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • Mycoplasma species
  • Canine adenovirus 1
  • Canine adenovirus 2
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Canine parainfluenza 2
  • Canine distemper virus

Most cases of kennel cough are assumed to be caused by an initial viral infection, and then in certain cases, there may be a probable secondary bacterial infection.

How Does Kennel Cough Come About In Dogs?

In situations where many other dogs are present, such as in boarding kennels, in behavior and training groups, in dog play areas, and at dog shows, the likelihood of a dog contracting kennel cough is significantly increased.

The disease known as kennel cough can be passed from dog to dog through various channels, including direct contact with an affected dog, breathing in infectious droplets, or coming into contact with contaminated objects or surfaces.

The Symptoms Of Kennel Cough In Dogs

The symptoms of kennel cough, also known as infectious canine tracheobronchitis, include irritation and inflammation of the upper airways, which manifests as a hacking cough in the affected dog.

However, the condition can cause broncopneumonia in puppies (an inflammation of the lungs that starts in the bronchi or bronchioles) and chronic bronchitis in older dogs or dogs with a compromised immune system.

Most of the time, the sickness is self-limiting, and dogs recover independently.

The dry, hacking cough that is characteristic of kennel cough in dogs is sometimes referred to as a “goose honk.” Kennel cough is contagious and can spread from dog to dog.

Dogs might also give the impression that they are throwing up. In most cases, these symptoms manifest anywhere from five to ten days after a dog has been in touch with other sick canines.

Within three to five days following its onset, the cough’s severity is typically reduced to a more manageable level.

Kennel cough may also cause certain symptoms similar to the common cold, such as sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, swollen glands, and wheezy breathing.

However, it is important to note that these symptoms may not always present themselves. In addition, some of the dogs may exhibit drowsiness, lose their appetite, or run a fever for a couple of days.

Dogs with kennel cough are more likely to cough readily if the area around their throat is rubbed or handled. Any coughing will typically become more severe if the dog becomes agitated, engages in physical activity, or is in a setting where the air is cold.

Your Dog Might Be Coughing: 7 Most Likely Causes

Is your dog coughing, but outside that, is it acting normally and maintaining its normal energy level?

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You are not the only one: our survey of 1,820 owners of coughing dogs found that in 71.6% of cases, coughing dogs do not show any evident indicators of disease, such as a loss of appetite, lack of activity, or difficulty breathing.

The following list is some of the most typical reasons why a dog that is otherwise healthy will have a cough:

1. Kennel Cough Or Respiratory infections

What it looks like:

  • A hacking, dry cough with honking sounds.
  • Some dogs still have high energy
  • Some dogs still eat normally.

The incidence of infectious respiratory disorders, such as those caused by viruses and bacteria and referred to as “kennel cough,” is quite high.

These respiratory disorders are frequently found in dogs who have been in the company of other dogs, just as they are frequently found in children who attend daycare or school.

Although these infections cause a dry, honking cough in many healthy dogs, the dogs will still have high energy and will continue to eat and normally drink despite having the cough.

Some dogs will also exhibit other symptoms, such as drooling from the nose, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

2. Trachea That Is Collapsing

What it looks like:

  • Dry coughing (which is frequently brought on by excitement or eating)
  • There will be some canines that have trouble breathing.
  • Extremely common in canines of smaller breeds

Collapsing of the trachea is especially common in dogs of tiny breeds, who have tracheas that are smaller tracheal ring cartilage that is less firm.

Excitement, physical activity, eating and drinking, and airborne allergens like pollen and smoke have been linked to episodes of tracheal collapse.

When the dog takes in a large amount of air, the trachea compresses, which results in the dog coughing and gagging.

Some dogs will also exhibit additional symptoms, including difficulty breathing, wheezing, gagging, or retching. Chest X-rays frequently reveal the presence of a trachea that has collapsed.

3. Allergies/Asthma

What it looks like:

  • Dry coughing
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Scratching or licking paws

A dry cough in an otherwise healthy animal could result from allergies or asthma, even though dry coughs in dogs are not very common.

To determine whether or not this is the source of your dog’s coughing, your veterinarian will most likely take chest x-rays and ask for a detailed history of your pet.

Your vet would appreciate it if you could describe the circumstances surrounding your dog’s coughing fits.

If Your Dog Has A Cough And Is Exhibiting Other Signs Of Illness

If your dog has a persistent cough, especially if it is accompanied by other disease symptoms or a general feeling of being unwell, it is time to take him to the veterinarian.

Let’s investigate why your dog is in such poor health. Nearly one-third of the time, dogs that coughed also displayed other disease symptoms, such as becoming lethargic, losing their appetite, or having trouble breathing.

These signs can provide useful information about what might be causing your dog to cough and what you should do about it. The following list is some of the most prevalent illnesses that might cause a dog to cough in addition to exhibiting other symptoms of illness:

4. Disease Caused By Heartworms

What it looks like:

  • Mild dry cough
  • Lack of energy
  • Lach of appetite

In dogs, heartworm illness is caused by Dirofilaria immitis, which are worms carried and spread by mosquitoes. Heartworm disease can be treated by preventing and treating mosquito bites. If treatment is not sought for heartworm disease, there is a risk of death.

Sadly, before any clinical indications are noticed, there is frequently significant damage to the patient’s heart and lungs.

Every dog should get a heartworm test once a year in addition to receiving heartworm preventive treatment tailored to their particular veterinarian’s recommendations.

5. Ailments of the Heart

What it looks like:

  • Coughing that is either dry or wet
  • Difficulty breathing/gasping
  • Getting fatigued easily, or not feeling well
  • Coughing occurs after getting up.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is the form of canine heart disease that occurs the most frequently in our practice. This heart ailment causes the patient to develop a “stretched-out” heart that becomes flabby and loses its ability to contract appropriately.

This causes blood flow to become sluggish, leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs and the belly. Coughing is a common symptom of heart disease in dogs, particularly first thing in the morning or after rising from a lying position.

This is because of the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Hearing the dog cough alone may not be sufficient to determine if the cough is “dry” or “wet.”

A lack of adequate oxygenation and trouble breathing could cause the dog’s ill feelings. The dog is currently experiencing congestive heart failure, making the situation a medical emergency.

6. Pneumonia

What it looks like:

  • Coughing, either dry or watery
  • Feeling unwell and frequently ill
  • Fever
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Pneumonia is a systemic illness that can affect dogs and could be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal species.

Although many episodes of pneumonia are characterized by a cough that is more “wet,” it might be challenging to diagnose the condition based just on the dog’s coughing.

7. Cancer progressed to the lungs

What it looks like:

  • Wet or dry coughing
  • Slightly increased respiratory effort or rate

Unfortunately, canine cancer is fairly frequent; almost half of all older dogs may develop the disease at some point in their lives.

If a sick dog has a wet cough, this could indicate that the dog has primary lung cancer or that there is metastasis from cancer that originated in another part of the body and has progressed to the lungs.

Early clinical indications may include a slightly increased respiratory effort or rate and a cough.

Can Dogs Be Protected Against Catching Kennel Cough?

Vaccinations offer protection against some agents that can contribute to kennel cough in dogs.

These agents include the canine distemper virus, the parainfluenza virus, and the canine adenovirus. They are frequently distributed in the form of a vaccination that contains a mixture of these.

First vaccinations for puppies can be given when they are between 6 and 8 weeks old, and subsequent vaccinations can be given every three to four weeks until they are between 14 and 16 weeks old.

After this, a booster vaccination once a year is necessary, although in some circumstances, a booster vaccination every half a year is recommended.

Suppose the likelihood of contracting Bordetella bronchiseptica is thought to be high enough. In that case, some vaccines can be given intranasally (as drops that are put into the nose) that can offer some degree of protection against the bacteria.

Puppies older than three weeks old can receive this treatment, and its effects can remain for as long as a year. If a dog is to receive this immunization before being boarded at a kennel, it should ideally be administered approximately two weeks in advance.

Even if a dog has been vaccinated against kennel cough, it is still possible for the dog to contract the sickness because several infectious agents are implicated in the disease.

Any immunity that a dog acquires against the agents that cause kennel cough, whether as a result of infection or via vaccination, does not necessarily likely to be one hundred percent or last for an unlimited amount of time.

Kennel cough is a transmittable or contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs.

Other precautions that should be taken in areas where there are large numbers of dogs are housed together include the provision of adequate ventilation, as well as the routine and comprehensive cleaning and disinfection of kennel areas, as well as toys, water bowls, and any other items with which dogs come into contact.

Additional Causes Behind Dogs Coughing

The most common factors that contribute to a dog’s hacking cough have been presented above. Nevertheless, there may be further explanations, such as the following:

  • Distemper
  • Asthma
  • Something foreign is lodged in the throat or the esophagus.
  • Acid reflux
  • Valley Fever (a fungal infection)
  • Allergies

When Must You Take Your Dog to the Doctor If They Have a Cough?

You might be wondering whether or not the coughing or gagging that your dog is exhibiting is serious enough to require a trip to the veterinarian.

As a dog owner, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a cough is significant enough to necessitate a visit to the veterinarian.

A dog can occasionally cough to clear their throat or respond to anything that irritates them. In most cases, that should not be a cause for alarm. However, veterinarian care is likely necessary if any of the following symptoms are present:

  • Becomes constant.
  • Continues for more than two days.
  • Becomes worse in frequency or intensity over time.

In addition, a cough is usually considered dangerous if it is accompanied by difficulty breathing, if your dog is generally poorly in themself, or if they are coughing up big amounts of phlegm or blood.

As a general rule, it may be OK to monitor your dog’s cough at home, provided that your dog still meets all of the following criteria:

  • They are confident in themselves
  • And continue to eat and drink normally.

Be cautious and take your dog to the veterinarian if you are confused about what to do because coughing can be a symptom of a dangerous illness. If you are still trying to find out what to do, take your dog to the veterinarian.

What Kind of Questions Will the Vet Ask You?

It is crucial to be ready for the fundamental questions your vet will want to ask concerning the coughing or gagging your older dog is experiencing.

If you can respond to your vet’s questions, it will help enhance the diagnosis, leading to a quicker resolution of the problem for your canine companion. Questions may include:

  • What exactly does it sound like when you cough? (gagging, retching, choking, coughing, gasping, or clearing of the throat noise, etc.?) – it’s possible that it’s not even a cough at all!
  • Is the cough productive, meaning that when your dog coughs, does it come up with anything, such as food or water?
  • Do you have any other symptoms related to the cough, such as trouble breathing or loss of appetite?
  • How often do you cough like this? Are you experiencing coughing daily, multiple times per day?
  • How long has this person been coughing continuously?
  • Is the cough coming from the chest or the throat more often?
  • Is there anything specific that brings on the cough? Or does it require a particular setting to take place in?
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Is There Any Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Kennel cough is a common respiratory illness that most frequently manifests in dogs as a hacking cough.

This sort of cough is typically characterized by dryness, lack of phlegm production, and hacking, and many dogs do not exhibit any other symptoms.

In most cases, any signs of kennel cough should gradually improve on their own without the need for treatment when the sickness initially arises within three weeks from the onset of the illness. This is the case even if the illness was contracted from another dog.

A dog can make a speedy recovery from kennel cough by maintaining proper hygiene, feeding it an appropriate diet that is also nutritionally sound, and removing from its environment any additional factors that may contribute to the development of an infection.

Antibiotics may be administered to dogs with kennel cough in the extremely rare instances where the disease is associated with more severe symptoms and the dogs cannot clear the infection on their own. However, they should only be used in chronic instances.

The appropriate type of antibiotic should be carefully selected after culture and sensitivity tests are performed on the bacteria responsible for each case.

If your dog has been diagnosed and confirmed with kennel cough, your veterinarian will likely not prescribe antibiotics as your pet’s initial course of treatment.

Other medications that might be used to treat kennel cough focus on reducing the cough symptoms, such as a cough linctus or occasionally cough suppressants if the cough is very persistent. These treatments may be used with other medications to treat kennel cough.

In the unlikely event that a dog develops a severe illness due to kennel cough, the dog may require critical care, which includes the administration of fluids and various medications.

If there is any issue as to whether or not kennel cough is the source of a cough, x-rays of the thorax should be conducted to rule out any other potential causes of coughing that would require alternative therapies.

Because excessive exercise can make coughing worse, another recommended treatment is limiting the amount of activity the dog gets to an absolute minimum for around one week. This is done because excessive exercise can make coughing worse.

When walking, a harness should be utilized, and collars that could push on the animal’s throat area should be removed. It is very important to always keep in mind that kennel cough is a very contagious disease.

You should try to keep your dog away from other canines while it is ill with the disease and for a few days after the coughing has subsided.

Important Facts To Keep In Mind

It may seem alarming if your dog suddenly develops a harsh and dry cough; however, it is important to remember that most dogs recover from kennel cough with no additional treatment other than a bit of tender loving care.

You should keep this in mind despite the fact that it may seem alarming. Kennel cough is an exceedingly contagious disease, and dogs are susceptible to contracting it in various settings due to its ease of transmission.

The best thing you should do if you are unsure whether your dog is suffering from kennel cough is to phone your veterinarian. Your veterinarian would be able to advise you further as to whether or not there is anything that needs to be done on a case-by-case basis.

It is also necessary to make an effort to be a responsible owner and prevent the illness from being passed on to other dogs. To achieve this, you should keep your dog away from other canines while it is ill and for several days after it recovers from its illness.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)


What are some common causes of coughing in dogs?

Some common causes of coughing in dogs include kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis), heartworm disease, pneumonia, bronchitis, and collapsing trachea.

Can coughing in dogs be a symptom of something serious?

Coughing can be a symptom of a serious condition such as heart disease, lung disease, or cancer. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause of the coughing and appropriate treatment.

How can I tell if my dog’s coughing is serious?

A persistent, dry, hacking cough or a cough accompanied by other symptoms such as labored breathing, exercise intolerance, or weight loss may indicate a serious condition. It is important to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

How can I treat my dog’s coughing at home?

Depending on the underlying cause of the coughing, treatment options may include antibiotics, cough suppressants, bronchodilators, or steroids. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Can I give human cough medicine to my dog?

It is not recommended to give human cough medicine to dogs as the active ingredients and dosages are not the same as those used in veterinary medicine. Consult with a veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.

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