What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is one of the most common conditions a dog suffers from although fortunately, it is rarely serious and only lasts a short amount of time. As the name indicates, the condition is mainly focused around the dog repeatedly coughing with some experts even comparing kennel cough to human flu. The condition is highly contagious and while the general consensus is that it can only be contracted by dogs, it can actually be passed on to other animals such as cats and birds. The condition is generally caused by bacteria and viruses and with these being able to be passed through air, it is no surprise to hear how easily kennel cough can be passed on to other animals.

As kennel cough is such a common condition, every pet owner should be constantly monitoring their pet to see if they are developing the condition. Due to the contagious nature of the condition, it is actually more common in dogs who are regularly spending time with other dogs they are not familiar with. This perhaps explains the “kennel” part of the name.

The most obvious symptom to look out for is the cough and while dogs commonly suffer minor coughs, the one that occurs in Kennel cough is much more distinct. Some compare it to more of a honking sound and with the dog seemingly trying to vomit or cough something up, it sounds extremely distressing. Sometimes, the dog will actually cough up phlegm or liquid. Similarly, the cough will worsen following exercise and veterinarians recommend a period of rest while the pet is suffering from the condition because of this. A less common symptom is for the dog to become depressed through the illness. This usually occurs if the dog has been suffering from kennel cough for a long time and it can also prompt issues such as a lack of appetite and red eyes.

Kennel cough is a condition that can cure itself over time and unless the symptoms have been prevalent for three to four weeks, most pet owners decide to simply allow the condition to clear. However, if it does reach this stage a veterinarian must be contacted and they will then decide the most appropriate course of action. There are various routes that vet clinics can decide to take:

  • Kennel Cough Vaccine
    The vaccine for the condition used to be one of the most common treatments available. While it is effective for a lot of dogs, for others it does not work at all and can actually evoke the condition even more. It is issued by means of either a shot or inhalant although veterinarians are seemingly moving away from this treatment method these days.
  • Antibiotics
    Most vet clinics prefer the use of antibiotics nowadays. With kennel cough being very similar to types of flu suffered by humans, antibiotics generally prove efficient and the vet can customize the treatment based on the dog and symptoms.
  • Cough Suppressants and Anti-Inflammatory Medication
    Some vets tend to simply recommend cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory treatment. While these will allow the pet to become much more comfortable, they simply tone down the symptoms and do not tackle the full problem itself. For this reason, extra caution has to be taken if this approach is taken.


In conclusion, it is blatantly clear that kennel cough is a very common problem amongst pets, mostly dogs. The condition is not generally serious although owners should exercise caution if their pet is either old or struggling to rid themselves of the problem, as kennel cough can lead to more serious illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis. For most, the condition is easily treatable and while a veterinarian is always recommended, kennel cough will clear itself most of the time without any outside interference.

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