Kennel Cough Unleashed: Protecting Your Pooch From This Pesky Disease

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs, particularly in places where large numbers of canines congregate, such as dog parks, kennels, and dog shows [1]. This infection can be caused by various viruses and bacteria, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine influenza virus, and canine parainfluenza virus [6].

Kennel cough causes inflammation of the dog’s voice box and windpipe, leading to a persistent dry, hacking cough, retching with white foam production, and sometimes coughing during the night [2, 3].


Natural History of the Disease

Kennel cough usually develops 5-10 days after exposure to the infectious agents, either after exposure to infectious secretions or other affected dogs [5]. The severity of the disease typically diminishes within the first five days, but it can persist for 10-20 days. Tracheal trauma secondary to intubation may produce a similar but generally less severe syndrome [5].

Risk Factors for Infection and Developing Severe Disease

Kennel cough is more likely to be severe in young puppies, older dogs, and dogs with weakened immune systems [2]. Dogs that frequently interact with other canines in areas like dog parks, kennels, and dog shows are at a higher risk of contracting the disease [1].


To prevent kennel cough, vaccination is essential. Vaccines protect against the most common causes of kennel cough and lessen the severity of the disease [7]. Carers should consult their veterinarians to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for their dogs. Additionally, it is crucial to maintain good hygiene and minimize exposure to infected dogs, particularly in high-risk environments like kennels and dog parks [1].


If a dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, it is essential to isolate them from other dogs to prevent the spread of the infection [1]. Treatment for kennel cough typically involves rest, and cough suppressants to relieve the symptoms [3]. Antibiotics are not typically of benefit in a primary infection but will be indicated if a secondary infection such as pneumonia has developed.


In conclusion, kennel cough is a common respiratory disease in dogs that can be caused by various bacteria and viruses, often in combination. While it typically presents as a mild illness, it can become more severe in young puppies, older dogs, and dogs with compromised immune systems[2]. Prevention strategies, such as vaccination and proper hygiene, play a crucial role in minimizing the risk of infection. Early identification and management of kennel cough are vital to avoid complications, including pneumonia[7]. It is essential for guardians and caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of kennel cough and to consult with a veterinarian for appropriate treatment and care. By understanding the natural history of this disease and taking proactive measures, we can ensure the well-being of our beloved canine companions.


1. American Kennel Club. (2019, January 23). Kennel cough symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Retrieved from

2. The Kennel Club. Kennel cough in dogs. Retrieved from

3. PetMD. (2020, June 30). Kennel cough in dogs: Symptoms and treatments. Retrieved from

4. Royal Veterinary College. (2019, January). Kennel cough fact sheet. Retrieved from

5. MSD Veterinary Manual. Kennel cough. Retrieved from

6. Bond Vet. (2021, August 19). Kennel cough in dogs. Retrieved from

7. Riney Canine Health Center. Risks of kennel cough. Retrieved from

8. ScienceDirect. Kennel cough. Retrieved from

9. PetsRadar. (2021, November 24). Kennel cough in dogs: A vet’s guide. Retrieved from

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