Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection affecting dogs. It is caused by a combination of the canine parainfluenza virus and the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and is highly contagious. Kennel cough is so named because the infection can spread quickly among dogs in the close quarters.

Viral and bacterial causes of canine cough are spread through airborne droplets produced by sneezing and coughing, which are also also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. Most causes of kennel cough are highly contagious, even days or weeks after symptoms disappear. Symptoms usually begin two to three days after exposure, and can progress to lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia.  It cannot be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms can include a harsh, dry cough, retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting.

Home treatments

Vitamin C and Echinacea can be given to dogs for bacterial and virus related conditions, amd helps strengthen your dogs immune system against bacteria and viruses.

Manuka honey will soothe the throat, and for dogs of two years and older you can give them a pediatric cough mixture like Tixylix or Benylin.

Keep the air moist to prevent your dogs throat from becoming too dry. Steam is a simple and powerful kennel cough remedy, as it can open up dog's bronchial tubes and help them clear more phlem out of their system when they cough. Turn on your shower as hot as it can go and let the room fill up with steam. Allowing your dog to inhale the steam for 15-25 minutes will let him/her get rid of a greater amount of phlem, and help them breathe easier while suffering from the cough. Your dog should also be kept warm as the virus thrives in cold and damp conditions.

The main concern with a primary viral infection is that a secondary bacterial infection can develop. By treating with antibiotics, it decreases the chance that a cough will develop into pneumonia. A course of antibiotics not only treats the bacteria but can also limit the period in which it is contagious to other dogs.

If your dog is still coughing after a week, then it’s time for a trip to the vet. However, if the phlem changes from a clear/cream to a dark gold/green it may be that a subsidiary bacterial infection has set in and it is important that you take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

The cycle for kennel cough is around 28 days from first exposure, but it can be 7 - 10 days before your dog shows any symptoms of the disease. Most Vets recommend that any dog with signs of the virus are isolated from other dogs for at least 7 days after the last cough.