Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel Cough in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Coughing / Fever / Gagging / Lethargy / Nasal Discharge

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Rated as mild conditon

9 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Coughing / Fever / Gagging / Lethargy / Nasal Discharge

Kennel Cough in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a general term used to describe a viral and/or bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the throat as well as other upper respiratory symptoms. The condition will often resolve on its own, however, it is uncomfortable for your canine pal and highly contagious. Kennel cough can be more severe and lead to pneumonia or death in young puppies, geriatric animals, and immunocompromised animals. Kennel cough is an inflammation of a dog's voice box and windpipe and is used to describe the viral and bacterial infections that occur. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis can be compared to a chest cold in humans, frequently clearing up on its own. Kennel cough in puppies and dogs is highly contagious and can develop into more severe symptoms such as fever and nasal discharge. If you believe your dog has kennel cough, isolate them from any other dogs and contact a veterinarian. How long does kennel cough last? Your veterinary team can answer this question and others you may have and will ensure that your furry buddy is quickly on the way to recovery.

Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Symptoms of tracheobronchitis can begin anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure. 

Symptoms of mild tracheobronchitis include:
  • Characteristic persistent dry “honking” cough
  • Otherwise healthy (good energy level, normal appetite)
  • Possible nasal discharge
  • Gagging
  • Coughing up white foam
  • Symptoms worsen with exercise or pulling at the collar
Symptoms of severe tracheobronchitis include:
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Labored breathing
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Causes of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Various agents work alone or together to cause tracheobronchitis. The two most common causative agents are parainfluenza and bordetella in dogs:

  • Parainfluenza virus

    - Most common viral cause of tracheobronchitis. When acting alone, symptoms may last less than six days. When paired with the Bordetella bacterium, symptoms can last up to 3 weeks. A vaccine is available and often included in the Bordetella vaccine preparation. Vaccines do not prevent infection entirely but can decrease risk and symptoms.

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica

    – Most common bacterial cause of tracheobronchitis. When acting alone, symptoms may last up to ten days. When paired with the parainfluenza virus, symptoms can last up to 3 weeks. A vaccine is available and often combined with the parainfluenza virus vaccine. Vaccines do not prevent infection entirely but can decrease risk and symptoms.

How long is kennel cough contagious? The Bordetella bacterium can be shed from an infected animal up to 14 weeks after symptoms have resolved. 

How is kennel cough spread? Virus and bacteria can spread through inhalation, direct contact with other animals, or contact with contaminated objects. 

Common locations for contracting kennel cough:

  • Kennels
  • Boarding facilities
  • Dog daycares
  • Animal shelters
  • Dog spas
  • Dog parks (water dishes)
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Diagnosis of Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your pet is showing signs of kennel cough and has recently been in contact with other dogs, make an appointment with the veterinarian for a physical examination. Being vaccinated for kennel cough does not ensure protection. The veterinarian will take a history of your four-legged companion and want to know whether they have had any recent contact with other dogs, how long they have been demonstrating symptoms, and symptom severity. This information will help to determine the kennel cough incubation period. A physical examination will involve listening to the lungs and evaluating the coughing. Any fever or nasal discharge will be noted.

Diagnosis is based on the presence of symptoms and history of exposure to other dogs. Various diagnostics are available to determine the causative agent of the tracheobronchitis including bacterial culture and viral isolation. These tests are not usually conducted unless requested since kennel cough symptoms are indicative of the condition.

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Treatment of Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your pet is diagnosed with kennel cough, treatment will depend on the severity of the condition.

Mild Tracheobronchitis

In mild cases, an oral cough suppressant will be prescribed to make your pup more comfortable. Use of a humidifier at home or placing your dog in a shower-steamed bathroom a few times daily can help provide relief. A bronchodilator may be used to expand the airways for easier breathing. An antibiotic may or may not be prescribed, depending on the history and severity of symptoms.

You may want to use a harness rather than a collar while your pet is exhibiting symptoms, as a collar can irritate the throat and lead to increased coughing. Improvement is typically seen within 5-7 days of starting treatment. No follow up appointment is needed for mild cases unless symptoms continue or worsen.

Severe Tracheobronchitis

In more severe cases, antibiotics for kennel cough, bronchodilators, and aerosol therapy will be prescribed.

Severe cases may require a weekly recheck appointment until your dog is considered stable. Report any continued or worsening symptoms to the veterinarian as tracheobronchitis can lead to life-threatening pneumonia.

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Recovery of Kennel Cough in Dogs

Tracheobronchitis symptoms will normally resolve after 3 weeks. Geriatric pets, young puppies and immunocompromised pets may take up to 6 weeks to recover. The infection is contagious for up to 14 weeks after symptoms are gone, so it is important to keep minimal contact between your pet and other dogs. If your puppy has a cough, you will have to hold off on the typical socialization activities until your vet gives the okay to resume training and doggy playdates. An older dog will not be able to attend doggy daycare or visit the park until the all clear is given by the veterinary team.

Annual vaccination can help prevent or lessen symptoms if an animal comes in contact with a causative agent of kennel cough. Vaccines do not totally prevent infection. It is preferable to allow 7 days after vaccination to come in contact with other dogs, although 4 days may provide some protection.

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Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

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Kennel Cough Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Boston Terrier

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

In the past 24 hours my dog has developed a cough and has progressively turned into more of the honking cough and recently been coughing up white foam.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kennel cough is a common cause in young dogs of a haunting type cough, and it can cause them to bring up a white foam substance. If the cough is getting worse, and is not improving over a day or two, or if it is making it so that your dog cannot sleep or eat, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as you may need therapy. If you do need to have him seen, your veterinarian will be able to examine him and see if that is what's going on, and give treatment if needed. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

yesterday

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Ace

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Yorkipoo

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Retching
Loud Dry Cough

Ace is male Yorki-poo who just turned a year old on the 24th of June. Vomiting started about 3 days go it is clear and foamy . Then the dry coughing started. It has been 2 days with the coughing. Based off of this description is this kennel cough or a collapsed tracheal? And I have a 8 year old male pit bull named Diesel who started to vomit a clear foamy liquid as well and who is also starting to have a loud dry cough. Do you think he has the same thing as Ace does?

July 1, 2018

Ace's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I really can't diagnose what might be going on with Ace without seeing him. There are many other questions on history and examination that I would need to know. It sounds like Diesel is showing the same signs as Ace, and they probably should see a veterinarian to find out what is going on with therm, whether it is kennel cough or otherwise. If it is kennel cough, they may need medications and vaccinations to help them.

July 1, 2018

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Maggy

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Pug

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3 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Gagging
Coughing
Mucus
Coughing, Gagging, Vomiting Foam Mucus

Hello. I brought a 3 month old pug puppy home with kennel cough from the breeder & unknowingly exposed the virus to my 9 month old pug. Currently he is not showing signs but I am worried he will catch it. How do i keep both pugs from passing it back & forth?

Sept. 5, 2017

Maggy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Dogs under six months of age are more prone to pickup kennel cough than older dogs, but you should take steps and be vigilant. Segregation is the most important factor here along with separate food, water bowls and toys; regular cleaning of the puppies environment is also important and cleaning of toys before allowing your other dog to play with them. The second link I’ve provided gives some information about environmental decontamination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.merckvetmanual.com/respiratory-system/respiratory-diseases-of-small-animals/tracheobronchitis-in-small-animals https://oregonvma.org/files/Kommedal-Canine-Infectious-Respiratory-Disease-Complex.pdf

Sept. 5, 2017

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Lucy

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Pit

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

Adopted a pit bull and she is on meds for kennel cough, but they didn't say how long she had already been on the meds. She has 7 days of meds left so how long has she been on them?

July 26, 2017

Lucy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Treatment would be dependent on the severity of the kennel cough, some severe cases require antibiotics whilst milder cases require supportive care; cough suppressants are commonly used to make a dog more comfortable, but the duration of treatment would have been based on severity, but generally treatment would be between ten and fourteen days. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Daisy

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Pittbull mix

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3 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Gagging
Coughing
Nasal Discharge

Hi I have a 3 month old pitbull mix pup and she's been lethargic also coughing and retching. she has moderate energy and has little appetite. The nasal discharge started last night about a day ago and it had a brownish color and she's been coughing for a day now too. I recently adopted her from an animal shelter 5 days ago and she did get her first booster shots. I'm wondering if I should bring her into an animal clinic to get her checked up but I'm not too stable financially. Help?

July 26, 2017

Daisy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst I understand your financial situation, given that you picked up Daisy five days ago, it would be best to have her checked over by a Veterinarian now as if there is an infection it may take longer to treat if treatment is delayed and may cost more in the long run. Infections, parasites, allergies, irritants (like cleaning products and detergents) etc… may all cause these symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Chloe

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Jack Russell Terrier

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17 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

She has been coughing for about 1.5 years. She coughs when standing from rest. No coughing when active. Her cough stops for 1 week after receiving her boardatello shot. Then gradually gets worse again. This is received every 6 months per kennel rules. She needs help. Her cough sounds dry for about 6-9 coughs then she coughs up a little wet flem.

Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 45 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

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