Canine “Kennel” Cough: What You Need To Know

Merritt Milam | August 1, 2021

Every person that ever parented a dog with kennel cough knows the dreaded sound – a deep honking, non-productive, persistent cough. Highly contagious, kennel cough is usually caused by a combination of Bordetella and viruses like canine distemper or canine influenza. Most people will, unfortunately, associate the virus with their pet’s kennel because it can spread rapidly where pets congregate. However, kennel cough can be spread through dog shows, animal shelters, pet stores, and breeders. Dogs that greet each other nose to nose at the park or drink from a contaminated water bowl outside a local business can easily contract or spread the virus.

Even though any dog can get kennel cough, puppies and unvaccinated dogs are the most at risk. If you do suspect your dog has kennel cough, see your veterinarian immediately.


If your vet determines your dog has a mild case of kennel cough, treatment may not be needed. Like humans and the common cold, the vet may just recommend the virus runs its course. If the pet’s condition is more serious, treatment with oral antibiotics, and possibly a cough suppressant, will be prescribed. Most cases will resolve themselves in 7 to 14 days. Pets with kennel cough will usually eat and act normal but exercise and excitement can make the condition and cough worst.


Isolating your pet from other dogs is important. If other dogs are in the house, make sure you isolate them from the infected pet to avoid further spreading. Also, infected dogs are not allowed at Wags until they have been officially cleared of the virus. If a pet with kennel cough has been determined to have been at Wags, we immediately initiate our dep cleaning protocol to make sure the virus spread is eliminated.


To help your pet reduce the chance of contracting kennel cough, all dogs participating in daycare must be up to date on Rabies, DHPP, and Bordetella (every six months) vaccinations.


While kennel cough may be a part of a dog’s life (like the flu or common cold is for pet parents), Wags is committed to making sure our facility is clean and welcoming for all our furry friends.