Kennel cough is a group of contagious respiratory infections in dogs, like when we say we have a cold. These infections tend to be mild.
Kennel cough can be caused by different viruses and bacteria. It is caught from infected dogs or contaminated objects. Dogs often sound like they have something stuck in their throat. Other common symptoms are a runny nose and sneezing. Most dogs will get better without treatment, but puppies and seniors need close monitoring.
What is Kennel cough?
Respiratory infection of dogs, can also affect other species
Often requires no treatment other than rest and TLC
Rarely dangerous, but very young or senior dogs more vulnerable
Very rarely it can affect immunocompromised people
Please call us or your local vet if your pet is very lethargic, not eating or breathing seems laboured
Possible symptoms of Kennel cough
Dry, hacking cough, like they have something stuck in their throat
Clear discharge from nose
Reduced energy levels (lethargy)
Dogs at higher risk of getting Kennel cough
Very young puppies (up to 16 weeks)
Senior dogs, especially those with diseases that affect their immune system
Brachycephalic (flat-nose) breeds (Frenchies, Bulldogs, Pugs)
Is my family at risk of catching Kennel cough?
Most viruses that cause Kennel cough are specific to dogs and will not affect people or other common pets.
The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica can spread to other species. Even so, it will be harmless to people unless they are immunocompromised. Guinea pigs are very susceptible to serious illness from this bug, so you will need to isolate them from your pooch if they are coughing.
How is Kennel cough diagnosed
Milder cases can be suspected based on examination. If symptoms are more severe, complications are suspected, or symptoms do not improve, chest x-rays are recommended.
Treatment for Kennel cough
Most cases only need a bit of extra care and support. Please see a few tips below on how you can help your pet recover.
If the coughing is very intense or uncomfortable, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory.
If your dog has a fever, congestion in their airways or the lungs become affected, antibiotics and other medications may also be necessary.
How to help your dog recover from Kennel cough at home
As their throat will be a little sore, it may be easier for them to eat soft food and smaller meals while they recover. This will also help them stay hydrated.
Water vapour helps clear any congestion in their airways, so exposing them to steam by having them in the room when the shower is being used is often helpful.
Resting for a few days will prevent further irritation to their airways and help them recover.
Tips on how to prevent Kennel cough
Vaccinating your dog will reduce the risk of getting Kennel cough or reduce the symptoms if they still catch it.
If your dog has Kennel cough, keep them away from other animals at risk of infection for two weeks after the symptoms clear.
Disinfection of objects and surfaces in the room where your dog is staying is necessary, normal household disinfectants work well. Joii can help if you need more tips about this.
If you need to see your vet, let them know your dog is coughing and discuss with them the best way to organise your visit.
When to worry
When to worry about Kennel Cough
Speak to a vet in the Joii app or your local practice if your pet:
Is constantly tired or lethargic
Is not eating or drinking much
Is breathing faster or with more effort than usual
Has thick or abundant nasal discharge
Is not getting better after 10-14 days