Kennel cough is a contagious disease that is the scourge of pet hotels and grooming salons and other places where pets congregate. Along with Bordetella and parainfluenza, canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is one of the reasons dogs get kennel cough. Coughing and gagging accompanied by a fever, runny nose, or red, watery eyes are the most common symptoms. And though the disease typically runs its course without longterm effects, it can lead to a more serious infection so you should speak with your vet if you think your dog has been infected.


Canine adenovirus type 2 causes respiratory disease in dogs and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also known as “kennel cough”. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is usually spread through coughing. Dogs that are around other dogs, such as at boarding facilities and dog parks, are at increased risk for infection.

After CAV-2 has been transmitted to a dog, the incubation (development) period of the disease is approximately 3 to 10 days. The infection is typically self-limiting (resolving without treatment); however, in some cases, it can lead to pneumonia.

Signs and Identification

Common signs of CAV-2 infection include:

  • A dry, hacking cough
  • Retching and gagging
  • Coughing up a white, foamy discharge
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge

In some cases, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the inner eyelids and tissues around the eyes)

Infectious canine tracheobronchitis is usually diagnosed based on clinical signs and a history of possible exposure (such as a recent trip to a groomer or boarder). Specific testing is rarely undertaken to rule in or out this particular virus.

Affected Breeds

All breeds of dogs are equally susceptible.


Treatment of CAV-2 infection is typically limited to supportive care, which may consists of fluids, rest, and antibiotics to treat secondary infections that may develop. Isolation from other dogs is mandatory. Dogs with kennel cough should wear a harness rather than a neck collar when taken for walks during recovery. Collars can place pressure on the trachea (the large airway that runs from the back of the throat into the lungs), which can contribute to coughing.


A vaccine is available to prevent CAV-2 infection. However, it is important to realize that the vaccine does not completely prevent dogs from contracting CAV-2. Rather, the vaccine limits the severity of infection so that vaccinated dogs typically experience a milder form of the disease.

The CAV-2 vaccine also protects against infection with canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). CAV-1 causes infectious canine hepatitis –– a dangerous and potentially fatal infection.

Because CAV-2 is common and the CAV-2 vaccine cross-protects against CAV-1, the CAV-2 vaccine is considered a core vaccine by organized veterinary medicine, meaning that all dogs should receive this vaccine. The CAV-2 vaccine is typically given in a combination vaccine that also protects against other serious diseases, such as canine distemper and canine parvovirus infection. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccine schedule for your pet.

Other preventive measures include:

  • Keeping puppies away from other dogs until the puppy vaccination series is complete.
  • Avoid exposing dogs to unvaccinated and sick animals.
  • Keeping dogs out of facilities where animals have been known to be infected with kennel cough.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.