Kennel Cough

We have all heard of the term “kennel cough,” but what exactly is it?

Kennel cough is a general term used to describe a condition characterized by the major clinical sign – coughing. Technically, it is an infectious or contagious tracheobronchitis, meaning inflammation/infection in the trachea and bronchial tubes. It can be caused by a number of bacteria and viruses, the most common being adenovirus-2, coronavirus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is spread via through both direct and indirect contact, and airborne transmission. For example, a dog can get it from sniffing a dog with the condition or using the same dishes as an infected dog. Many dogs will come home from boarding or daycare with it, hence the name “kennel cough.”

Clinical signs are usually mild and can be quite variable. The main sign owners complain of is a loud coughing or retching noise, often sounding like a goose-honk. Runny eyes and nose, wheezing, lack of appetite, and lethargy can also be noted. There are no specific treatments for viral diseases. Therefore anti-inflammatories may be used to decrease the clinical signs. The condition will usually resolve on its own in 1-3 weeks. During this time, the infected dog should not be in contact with other dogs. If it is known to be caused by bacteria, antibiotics can be used as treatment.

Preventing kennel cough can be done with a vaccine. It is highly recommended for dogs that go to dog parks, kennels, doggy daycare, or grooming. Talk to your veterinary professional to find out which vaccines are best for your dog and their lifestyle.