Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Pets can sometimes be good at hiding when they do not feel well. But one illness that may make itself known to you is kennel cough. If your dog has been consistently coughing, or it sounds like something is stuck in their throat, it may be a sign that they are fighting off a case of kennel cough.

While kennel cough may sound scary, it is quite common and most dogs will recover within a few weeks. But, just like the cold or flu in humans, kennel cough can have a number of causes. Read more about the symptoms of kennel cough, and if you recognize any of these in your pet, call Festival Animal Clinic at (303) 8509393.

kennel cough in centennial, coWhat is Kennel Cough?

A dry, hacking cough is often associated with kennel cough but that is only one of the symptoms. Kennel cough is actually an infectious bronchitis, which causes the throat to become inflamed. There are multiple viruses that can lead to kennel cough, but one of the most common is Bordetella bronchisepticam. It is so common, in fact, that kennel cough is often called bordetella. It is not uncommon for dogs struggling with bordetella to also have another virus. Other viruses that can lead to kennel cough include:

  • Canine Adenovirus
  • Canine reovirus
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Canine distemper virus

So, how does kennel cough spread? Like in humans, viruses that cause kennel cough can be inhaled from the cough or sneeze of other dogs. Typically, this happens in crowded spaces, often having little airflow and may be warm or moist. Areas that might come to mind, and are some of the most common, include:

  • Doggie Daycares
  • Animal Shelters
  • Grooming Facilities
  • Dog Parks
  • Pet Boarding Kennels

However, kennel cough is easily spread, and your dog may come into contact with viruses in a number of settings. Kennel cough can also be caused by exposure to cold temperatures, dust or cigarette smoke, or even stress. Once your dog is exposed, it usually takes about four days for symptoms to being showing.

Signs of Kennel Cough

There are obvious signs of kennel cough, including an abrasive cough. It may also sound like your dog is constantly getting choked on something. However, there are other signs that your dog could be suffering from kennel cough. Those symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Lethargy
  • Low-grade fever
  • Change in appetite

While in many dogs, kennel cough is treatable, you should contact a veterinary professional if you notice the hacking continue. It could be a symptom of a more serious issue, such as heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, or collapsing trachea.

Treating and Prevent Kennel Cough

In healthy dogs, usually a couple of weeks of rest is enough to help your dog recover. In more serious cases of kennel cough, your vet may also prescribe medicines, such as an antibiotic, to help prevent any further infections or to suppress your dog’s cough. There are things, however, that you can do at home to make sure your dog is comfortable as they get over their illness.


Ensuring your dog has enough water is always important. But when they are suffering with kennel cough, the water will also help to flush their system of toxins. This can speed up recovery, and knock out a virus sooner. Your dog may also enjoy chewing on ice cubes to get some added hydration. And, you can add a broth to your dog’s water to make it more appetizing.

Humidifier/Steam Treatment

A humidifier may help to keep your dog from coughing so much, as well. The humidifier, as you may know, keeps the air moist, which can help ease your dog’s dry coughing. In the same way, a steam treatment may be a good option for your dog. You can create a steam room in your bathroom when you take a shower. Just allow your dog to sit in the steam, and make sure they have some water to stay cool and hydrated.

Avoid Smoke/Chemicals

While recovering, your dog will likely be spending a lot of time indoors resting. You want to ensure that they have clean air to breathe at all times. Keep your dog away from the smoke and harmful chemicals. If you do smoke, you can go outside or another area in the house that your dog does not go. Also, if you are cleaning with harsh chemicals, make sure your dog stays out of that area.

Cough Suppressants

If your dog’s cough is just not going away, you may consider using a cough suppressant. But you will need to talk to your veterinarian about which medicines are best for dogs, and how much you should be giving them. In most cases, treating kennel cough with a cough suppressant is a short-term solution. If the coughing persists, your veterinarian may have other recommendations.


Honey is also a great way to ease some of your dog’s discomfort. Not only is it soothing, but honey also contains antioxidants, enzymes and flavonoids that can give your dog relief from the coughing. Of course, you do not want to overdo it. Large dogs only need about one tablespoon of honey a day, whereas medium dogs can have about two teaspoons. You can always mix it in with food or a treat if you have a hard time giving it to your dog straight.

Encourage Rest

Just like with humans, a dog’s body does a lot of healing while they sleep. So, if your dog has been diagnosed with kennel cough, make sure they are getting a lot of rest. Because dogs are excitable, you may want to keep them by themselves for a while, away from other dogs and even children who might disturb their sleeping.

Aside from treating kennel cough once your dog has it, there are ways to prevent it. There are three main forms of vaccinations used to treat kennel cough. They include an injection, a nasal mist, and an oral option. It is important to keep in mind, though, that because there are so many bacteria and viruses that can cause kennel cough, the vaccine does not ensure that your dog will not contract kennel cough. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at (303) 8509393.

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