Can Dogs Get Kennel Cough More Than Once?

Asking if dogs can get kennel cough more than once is akin to asking if you can get a common cold more than once. The simple answer is that there are several different causes of kennel cough and because of this, it is quite possible for your dog to come into contact with more than one source, which in turn means they are likely to experience several bouts of kennel cough in their lifetime. 

While having a cold can make your life miserable for a few days, it can do far more than this to your favorite canine pal. In most cases, a mild case of kennel cough will resolve itself over the course of a few days. However,  it is possible for the cough to worsen and develop into pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

If you think your pup might have kennel cough, they should be kept away from any other pets you have and taken to see the vet for a full diagnosis. You should also sterilize bedding, food, and water bowls, and anywhere else your dog hangs out to help prevent the disease from spreading.

Can Dogs Get Kennel Cough More Than Once?

Your four-legged friend can contract kennel cough multiple times during their lifetime. Many people are under the mistaken impression the only place this disease comes from is a boarding kennel, hence its name. But your dog can come into contact with the bacteria that causes the virus from any number of sources.

Does My Dog Have Kennel Cough?

In most cases, if your dog has been healthy and suddenly develops a rasping cough, it's a pretty good sign that they have been exposed to a bacteria or virus that causes kennel cough and has developed one. If you apply light pressure to their trachea (throat) and they begin a dry hacking cough, sneezing, gagging, snorting, or even vomiting, these are all considered good indicators of kennel cough. Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, they may also have a runny nose and possibly a fever.


Common Symptoms

  • Dry raspy cough

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Snorting or difficulty breathing

  • Lethargy

  • Lack of appetite

  • Fever

  • Gagging/vomiting

Common Causes

The virus typically responsible for kennel cough is considered highly contagious and can remain alive and well for up to 14 weeks in other animals who no longer exhibit any symptoms. Both the bacterial and viral causes of kennel cough can be spread in the air via the sneezing or coughing.

Typically, the Bordetella bacteria responsible for kennel cough travels in the company of at least one more virus responsible for the infection. Most vets agree that kennel cough is not usually a single infection, rather a case of multiple infections. The most common place for these infections to be passed around is warm crowded spaces such as boarding kennels, animal shelters, or grooming shops. 

You can learn more about the symptoms and causes of kennel cough in our guide to Kennel Cough in Dogs.


Diagnosis

The best way to diagnose kennel cough is by observing one or more of the listed symptoms. In most cases, these manifest after a stay in a boarding kennel, in puppies from a puppy mill, or in animals in a shelter. 

The vet may order blood work, bacterial cultures, and viral isolations in an attempt to isolate and identify which particular pathogens are behind the specific form of kennel cough your dog has. The veterinarian may also order x-rays that will allow them to see if your dog has bronchitis.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Kennel Cough?

While some vets may recommend antibiotics, in most cases they are not really needed unless your dog's condition is moderate to severe in nature.  If your dog does not show signs of recovery within 7 to 10 days or if their condition continues to worsen, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible. 

In most cases, the symptoms of kennel cough will last approximately 10 to 20 days. These symptoms will resolve themselves without the need for any medication in much the same way as humans recover from the common cold. 

For more details, visit Kennel Cough in Dogs.  

How is Kennel Cough in Dogs Similar To a Cold in Humans?

Kennel cough in dogs is very much like the common cold in humans. It produces many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Coughing that is persistent and dry

  • Demonstrating a hard time breathing

  • A runny nose or nasal discharge

  • Lack of appetite and lethargy

Perhaps the most common way in which kennel cough and the common cold are similar is that they are both spread by the same basic methods including, airborne, one-to-one contact, and touching surfaces that have been infected.

How is Kennel Cough in Dogs Different From a Cold in Humans?

Kennel cough and the common cold share very similar bacteria and viruses, but while dogs can pass this condition back and forth to each other and humans can do the same, it is highly unlikely for one to pass it to the other. 

With the common cold, you have time to wait and see how bad it can get. With dogs, once you notice the symptoms, you should take your dog to vet as soon as you can. 

As humans, we often don't have the option to put our busy lives on hold for a cold. On the other hand, you need to make sure your dog gets plenty of fluids and rest in order to facilitate a speedy recovery.

Case Study

A couple purchased a 6.5-week old Chocolate Labrador from an established breeder. At 8 weeks of age, the dog began to cough incessantly. The vet recommended giving the dog 2 teaspoons of Robitussin DM at bedtime. The dog was soon on the way to recovery without any further need for medication.

The good news is that for at least the next 6 to 12 months the dog will have a natural immunity to the bacteria and virus responsible for this case of kennel cough. Recent developments have led to a vaccine for kennel cough that works very well. It can be given once per year unless you live in a high risk area, where twice per year is recommended.

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