dog visiting a veterinary practice for a check up

Spotting the signs and symptoms of kennel cough in your dog

If your dog or puppy has a cough, you’ll want to identify the cause as quickly as possible, so that you – and your vet – can get them back to full health.

The most common cause of a dog coughing is kennel cough – a deep, barking and raspy cough that’s highly contagious and easily caught from other dogs.

If your dog or puppy has a cough but is otherwise well, kennel cough is most likely to be the cause. In most cases, dogs with kennel cough will appear healthy apart from coughing, though some also experience a runny nose, sticky eyes or sneezing. You may notice the coughing is worse when your dog gets excited, or after exercise. 

A dog with kennel cough usually recovers within a week or so, but it’s always advisable to pop him or her along to your vet to be sure that this is actually the cause of your dog coughing.

Protect your dog against kennel cough

Luckily kennel cough is as easy to prevent as it is to catch – just talk to your vet about kennel cough vaccinations. While the kennel cough vaccine doesn’t provide 100% protection, it does help to protect your dog against kennel cough, and lessen the severity of symptoms.  The vaccine itself lasts about a year and involves squirting a little liquid up your dog’s nose.

“Luckily, kennel cough is as easy to prevent as it is to catch. Just speak to your local vet about kennel cough vaccine.”

It’s worth noting that most dog boarding kennels won’t take dogs that aren’t up-to-date with their kennel cough vaccinations, and the vaccine takes about 7-10 days to work, so plan ahead if you’re going on holiday. 

The technical bit… 

Kennel cough – also known as infectious tracheobronchitis – is a common canine respiratory infection mainly caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus, which can attack your dog’s respiratory tract and cause inflammation of the upper airway.

How can I help my coughing dog feel better?

Always make sure your dog or puppy has plenty of water, nutritious food, and a comfortable place to rest. While unwell, you should keep them away from other dogs while they’re coughing as they are very contagious and other dogs are at high risk of contracting kennel cough.

If kennel cough symptoms worse, act fast

Kennel cough can leave your dog vulnerable to secondary infection.
In rare cases, kennel cough may lead to pneumonia – particularly in puppies or older dogs with a weak immune system.

If the coughing continues, or your dog’s symptoms get in any way worse – they lose their appetite, develop a fever or contract any other symptoms – visit your vet, who will examine your dog to establish whether antibiotics or cough medication are needed.

Kennel cough advice and treatment

For advice and treatment on kennel cough, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.

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