Kennel Cough – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


dogs waiting for owner at dog daycare kennel

If you are a pet owner, you must have seen that your dog sometimes cough like he/she is experiencing choking. But you don't need to worry because it is a typical case of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis or, in simple words, an infection of the respiratory system.


The causative agents for this chest infection are bacteria and viruses. These viruses, as the term explains, affect the trachea and bronchi of the lungs. You should know that many bacteria and viruses can affect and infect the lungs simultaneously.


I will not go into the details of the list of viruses and bacteria causing kennel cough as most of the time, this disease does not develop into a severe condition. But the most common causative agent for kennel cough is Bordetella bronchiseptica. This disease is often named Bordetella infection.


Dogs often develop this disease when they come into contact with other dogs. This condition is usually seen when dogs are kept in kennels, so named Kennel Cough.

Scientifically, this disease is also named as canine infectious respiratory disease complex as many pathogens (bacteria and viruses) are causing the same infection. Most of the time, this disease does not require proper treatment—your dog recovers within few weeks.


Factors that may Cause Kennel Cough

Nature has made a very effective protective lining in the respiratory system of the body. The tract of the respiratory system is lined with the mucus layer and cilia that do not allow any foreign body to cause any problem. But, there are a number of factors that weaken this protective lining and make the system prone to such pathogens. These are as follows.


dog coughing from kennel cough

1. Poorly ventilated housing

2. Overcrowded housing

3. Travel stress

4. Cold environment

5. Dust or smoke in the air


How Can Your Dog Get Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is an airborne disease transmitted through the air. And being contagious, kennel cough can be transmitted from one dog to another. In a crowded space, it can be transmitted even from sniffing around. Your dog can get this infection while walking, playing, and living with other dogs. Sharing things can transmit this infection from one to another.


Your dog can be immune to kennel cough, but certain factors described above can trigger the pathogens to cause serious implications. This condition mostly does not show severe signs, but in some cases, the cough becomes chronic and may last for several weeks.


dog shaking water off can be immune to kennel cough

Common Signs and Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is characterized by its specific loud cough, which is often described as "Goose Honk." Dogs cough very often in this situation. Mainly coughing occurs when you rub your dog's chest after exercise or in daily routines. Rubbing of the chest puts pressure on the damaged respiratory tract and induces cough.


This condition does not become the underline cause of other diseases. Your dog does not get other opportunistic infections because of kennel cough, but he/she may get opportunistic infections because of other causes, as discussed above.


Dogs lethargic in bed

The common signs and symptoms other than a cough are as follows

1. Swollen tonsils because of infection

2. Runny nose

3. Runny eyes

4. Lack of appetite

5. Wheezing

6. Depressed attitude


Treating Kennel Cough

The attitude of your dog is critical in prescribing the treatment therapy for your dog. If your dog is not showing any severe symptoms, not depressed, and is eating well, then your veterinarian may not prescribe you any medication. He may prescribe your dog rest, hydration, and proper nutrition.


In case of a severe condition, medications are prescribed to treat inflammation and coughing. If your vet suspects any bacterial infection, he may prescribe you antibiotic drugs that shorten the span of the disease.


dogs at the park together high risk of kennel cough

Healing Kennel Cough with Holistic Therapy

As the main factors of this disease are stress and contamination, it can be prevented and treated using simple holistic techniques. Many a time, if your dog is infected with kennel cough pathogens, but he/she is altogether healthy, he/she may not show signs and symptoms.


As we can't avoid kennel cough infection, we can avoid its signs and symptoms just by keeping our pet healthy. Holistic therapy offers you Acupressure and Red Light Therapy; both are aimed to prevent stress and anxiety issues.


Acupressure works on the principle of acupuncture. In acupressure, the pressure points in the body are gently pressed to maintain the flow of energy in the body. These pressure points, located in important locations, are believed to maintain the flow of “qi," the life energy. This therapy tends to regain the balance of energy in the body.


dog receiving red light therapy to help overcome kennel cough

Red light therapy, like acupressure, also maintains the balance of energy in the body. It utilizes light as a source of energy. Both these therapies are holistic – address the whole body. These therapies develop the self-healing potential in the body, and they don't have any adverse effects.