Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough

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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough, also known as Bordetella, is very similar to a human cold. It is most commonly caused by the bacterium Bordetella Bronchiseptica or Canine Parainfluenza virus. When these pathogens are inhaled, they attack the lining of the respiratory tract and cause inflammation of the upper airway resulting in a dry cough.

How is it spread?

Kennel Cough is highly contagious and named “Kennel Cough” for its ability to quickly spread through an entire kennel and infect every dog in the room. It is transmitted in many different ways, the most common one being through the air. When one sick dog coughs, the bacteria is released into the air and can then infect any dog that breathes it in. That means that your dog doesn’t even have to be in contact with other dogs to catch it. Kennel cough is also spread by direct contact with a sick animal or by sharing contaminated objects such as toys, bowls, or even a puddle on the ground.


The most common symptom of kennel cough is a persistent cough that typically sounds like forceful honk. This cough is often aggravated by exercise and excitement. Other symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge. Symptoms usually develop three to ten days after coming in contact with the bacteria and can last months. Puppies, seniors, and other dog’s with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of catching kennel cough and a possible secondary infection, like pneumonia, from it.

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Veterinarian Treatment

Unfortunately, like the human cold, there is no quick cure for Kennel Cough. Most times, Kennel Cough will run its course and go away without vet intervention within a few weeks. However, if symptoms are severe or your dog has a weakened immune system, a veterinarian will often prescribe antibiotics to help ease the symptoms and prevent any secondary infections from developing. Since there is no formal test to diagnose Kennel Cough, vets have to make their diagnosis based off of the dog’s symptoms and by eliminating any other possible causes. You can also help reduce the risk of your dog catching it by giving them the Bordetella vaccine every year.

Home Remedies

Even though there is no cure for Kennel Cough, there are still a few things you can do at home to help your dog recover quicker.

  1. Bed Rest – Again, like the human cold, the more rest you get, the sooner you will feel better. Since exercise can aggravate your dog’s cough, reducing their activity and allowing them to get some extra sleep, will have them back to normal much quicker.
  2. Raw Honey – Honey is a natural anti-bacterial agent. So, adding raw honey to your dog’s water, or even letting them lick it off a spoon, will help soothe their throat and suppress their coughs.
  3. Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is a strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial agent. So giving your dog a little bit a day, can help fight off the bacteria. Be careful though, too much coconut oil can also act as a laxative. Approximately 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of dog is a good amount.
  4. Steam – Try taking your dog into the bathroom with you while you shower. Steam from the shower will help to open up your dog’s nasal passage and respiratory system. This allows them to breathe easier and loosen up any phlegm.

Bordetella Vaccine

All good boarding facilities require their furry guests to have the Bordetella vaccine. Although, most pet owners and veterinarians give the vaccine every year regardless of their boarding arrangements. While the vaccine does help reduce the risk of getting kennel cough, much like the human flu shot, it does not cover every strain of the virus and does not guarantee your dog won’t catch Kennel Cough.

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What does Jet Pet do to reduce the risk of kennel cough?

Jet Pet’s strict sanitization policy includes daily disinfection of our daycare areas, playground equipment, and toys. We use non-toxic and chemical-free disinfectants proven to kill Bordetella. After each use, our staff wash and dry all blankets, bedding, and bed pads in our industrial washer and dryer, as well as disinfect the suites from top to bottom. We also require every animal in our care to be up to date on all of their vaccines. Learn more about our vaccine policy here. Rest assured; Jet Pet does everything in our power to prevent diseases, 365 days a year.


Written by: Rachelle Biever CPDT-KA