No doubt on more than one occasion, you’ve heard of “kennel cough”, which is basically a cold for dogs. There’s no reason to be alarmed, it’s a very common illness in the canine world. It’s the equivalent of a cold or flu in humans and just requires a simple treatment to fight it off.

Its name comes from kennels, of course, where the dog population is very high and there often isn’t very strict hygiene, creating a perfect environment for the kennel cough virus to propagate quickly and easily, and making it more difficult to completely eradicate it.

kennel cough virus

What is kennel cough?

In the medical field, it’s known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (CIT). It’s a contagious viral disease caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, which affects mainly dogs. It primarily affects the respiratory system and throat, causing a lot of dry coughing.

It isn’t a serious disease but you do have to treat it to get rid of it effectively. Its common name comes from dog kennels, as we explained above.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough in dogs?

Detecting kennel cough is very simple. Dogs affected by this disease cough constantly, most of the time with a very dry, almost raspy cough. It can also cause vomiting or phlegm production due to the excessive coughing that the disease causes, which in excess will irritate the throat.

If your dog is coughing a lot more than normal, and his cough is very dry, he most likely caught kennel cough. The vomiting isn’t a result of stomach problems, but rather by the irritation of the throat itself. Take your dog to the veterinarian so they can give him the proper treatment.

sick doggy

What is the treatment for kennel cough?

Generally, the treatment used is based on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, along with something soothing for his throat. Depending on the health of the dog and the intensity of the illness, stronger or gentler antibiotics will be administered, so it’s impossible to say what the standard treatment is, as it can vary. Remember that these treatments can only be given by a veterinarian.

In addition, you should follow some practical tips to help your dog get better more easily, such as:

  • Not exercising while he’s sick, just taking gentle walks.
  • Not bathing your dog, and keep him from getting cold.
  • Feed your dog well, which is fundamental for him to feel stronger.
  • Avoid putting his collar on as much as possible so you don’t irritate his throat.
  • Don’t take him places with lots of smoke and don’t smoke in the house, which will irritate him more.
  • Treat him with lots of love, his mood should be positive, he should be happy.

Is there a vaccine for kennel cough?

Yes, there is a vaccine that is given to dogs when they’re puppies with an annual booster shot; that is, every year he has to get a new vaccine in order for it to work. If your dog wasn’t vaccinated as a puppy, no problem, you can start vaccination at any age.

Vaccines are not 100% effective; they simply stimulate your dog’s antibodies so he creates his own defenses. It reduces the chances of catching it dramatically, but not completely. Although it doesn’t completely guarantee immunity, it is highly recommend that you vaccinate your dog.

puppy and adult dog with cough

How can I prevent my dog from catching kennel cough?

It isn’t possible to protect your dog completely, but we can give you a few tips that are very practical, reducing your dog’s chances of catching this illness. They are simple, common sense guidelines, so they won’t be an issue for you:

  • Keep your dog vaccinated, consult your vet about which shots he needs and when he needs to get them.
  • Don’t take your dog for walks in dirty places or where there is a high concentration of dogs, like in kennels.
  • Keep your dog clean, bathe him at least once a month and keep his bed clean.
  • Don’t let your dog play with other dogs that have frequent, dry cough.
  • Keep your dog well-fed and exercised. A strong, healthy dog has less chances of catching it.