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KENNEL COUGH 555 396 Ekua Esuon Thompson

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Kennel cough is a term loosely used to describe a complex of respiratory infections (both viral and bacterial), that cause inflammation of a dog’s larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). It’s a form of bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchi) and is similar to a chest cold in humans. Dogs are more prone to Kennel Cough.  Though it usually clears up on its own, kennel cough is highly contagious and a source of worry to many owners.


As Kennel Cough is a respiratory infection, it is spread mainly via aerosols in the air. Dogs prone to this condition are those:

  • In breeding homes. The spread is more rapid when the area is enclosed with poor air circulation.
  • Who have frequent contact with other dogs, in open environments especially where the environment is wet and humid.
  • Who have contact with contaminated materials such as eating and drinking bowls, etc.
  • Who have not been vaccinated against Parainfluenza and Bordetella which are two of the main causes of kennel cough.


  • A persistent dry cough with a “honking” sound. In most cases, pets appear healthy except for the cough.
  • Gagging, Coughing up white foamy phlegm
  • Fever normally accompanied with nasal discharge

Treatment and Prevention

  • Dogs with kennel cough should be isolated from other dogs. A humidifier, vaporizer or steam from a shower can provide relief for irritated breathing passages.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to cigarette smoke or other noxious irritating fumes.
  • A cough suppressant and antibiotics may be prescribed. Consult your veterinarian for the right drug suited for your pet.
  • If your dog pulls against her collar while being walked, replace it with a harness until the coughing subsides.
  • Supportive care is very important. Be sure your dog is eating, drinking and in a stress-free environment.
  • Vaccinations are also available for several of the agents known to be involved in kennel cough including parainfluenza, bordetella and adenovirus 2.  Consult your veterinarian on which ones are recommended for the environment you find yourself in and how often.
  • Vaccinations aren’t useful if a dog has already caught the infection.

Kennel Cough Recovery

In most cases, the signs gradually decrease and disappear after three weeks. Young puppies, elderly dogs and other immunocompromised animals may take up to six weeks or more to recover. Animals may remain infectious for long periods of time even after the symptoms have cleared up.

When to Consult Your Veterinarian

If your dog has nasal discharge, is breathing rapidly, refuses to eat or seems lethargic, take it to the veterinarian right away and immediately isolate it from all other dogs. Serious cases of this disease can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.