How To Protect Your Pup From Kennel Cough

Kennel cough (or canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a fairly common respiratory disease in dogs. A dog contracts kennel cough when it comes in contact with an infected dog. The disease can spread quickly among dogs in the closed quarters of an animal shelter or kennel. When an infected dog sneezes, droplets containing harmful, disease-causing agents are spread through the air. Dogs can also contract the disease when they come in direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Though kennel cough is treatable in most dogs, it can be severe in young puppies (less than six months old) and dogs with weak immune systems.

Disease Agents

Kennel cough can be caused by several disease agents. Some common viruses that are known to cause kennel coughs are canine adenovirus 2 and canine parainfluenza virus. One of the most common singular causative agents is Bordetella bronchiseptica. In many cases, it can be a secondary causative agent. Studies show that in some cases Gram-negative bacteria may also be a secondary causative agent.


Dogs with kennel cough start exhibiting symptoms within 5-10 days of exposure to an infected dog. Some common symptoms of kennel cough are:

  1.   Harsh, dry, loud, and forceful cough (may induce dry heaves or retching)
  2.   Constant sneezing
  3.   Runny nose

Dogs with kennel cough do not usually lose their appetite or struggle with low energy levels. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it may be something more serious than kennel cough.


In most cases, dogs with kennel cough recover on their own. If, however, your dog is persistently sneezing, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics for cough control. This is important to prevent damage to the trachea. Most vets recommend hydrocodone and butorphanol for cough control. Though nebulizers and vaporizers that utilize inhaled antibiotics or bronchodilators hold promise, they are usually not prescribed. If your furry friend has kennel cough, consider using a harness instead of a collar or leash, as a collar can irritate the trachea, potentially causing serious tracheal damage.


If you think your dog is at high risk of contracting kennel cough, get it vaccinated for the Bordetella bacterium, one of the most common agents that causes the disease. Healthy dogs contract kennel cough when they come in contact with infected dogs, many pet boarding facilities only accept dogs that have received the vaccination.

It is worth mentioning that there are other agents that can also cause kennel cough, meaning that your dog can still contract the health problem. If you have several dogs, isolate the pooch that exhibits kennel cough symptoms. When attending a show, make sure your dog does not have nose-to-nose contact with other dogs or drinks from a common water source. After returning from a dog show, thoroughly disinfect your dog’s crate, bowls, and bedding.

Looking for a dog kennel near you that treats its guests like royalty? Look no further than Bridewell Hilltop. To ensure the health and safety of our guests, we accept dogs that have received the Bordetella vaccine. Our staff goes to great lengths to create a healthy environment for our guests. To learn more about us, call us at (415) 897-5471.

Bridewell Hilltop Boarding Kennels & Cattery is dedicated exclusively to the care of dogs, cats, and small animals other than reptiles. Bridewell specializes in dog boarding, cat boarding, pet grooming and more for the areas of Novato, San Rafael and Marin County.