Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
If your dog has kennel cough, you’ll no doubt hear about it: A blaring, hacking cough like a goose honk is the most common sign. Affected dogs will often retch and gag, as if trying to dislodge something from their throats.
This extremely contagious respiratory disease, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, isn’t always caused by a single organism. In fact, it often involves a number of them. Common canine viruses including distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, reovirus or herpes virus may be involved, as well as bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica or even other organisms.
Aptly nicknamed “kennel cough,” the infection is commonly associated with places where dogs are exposed to other dogs, such as kennels, shelters, grooming facilities, dog shows and pet shops.
When an infected dog coughs, viruses and bacteria are dispersed into the air. Other dogs become infected when they inhale these infectious organisms, which, in turn, irritate the lining of their respiratory tracts, making them vulnerable to other organisms.
Dogs don’t need to have direct contact with sick dogs to become infected. The viruses and bacteria can even spread on toys and food and water bowls. Depending on the organisms involved, dogs will start to show signs four to 10 days after infection.
With a mild, uncomplicated infection, your dog may have a dry, unproductive cough (meaning he doesn't bring up phlegm or mucus when he coughs) that can worsen when he exercises, is excited or pulls against his collar. Usually, he’ll still have plenty of energy and an appetite.
Signs of a secondary bacterial infection can include lethargy, nasal discharge and loss of appetite. The infection can also spread deeper into the lungs, leading to pneumonia, which can be life threatening. In such severe cases, dogs may have a wet, productive cough (bringing up phlegm or mucus), difficulty breathing, fever and weight loss.
Your veterinarian can usually diagnose kennel cough based on your dog’s history and clinical signs, along with a physical exam. In many cases, simply placing gentle pressure on the trachea will elicit the telltale coughing. To help determine the severity of infection, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests, such as bloodwork and X-rays. If necessary, other tests can help identify the exact organisms involved, to help guide treatment.
All dogs with kennel cough should be isolated for at least two weeks to help prevent exposing other dogs to the infectious organisms. Although kennel cough is typically not spread to humans, people who are immunocompromised may be at risk for certain bacterial agents.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.