Skip to content

Let’s talk about Kennel cough for a minute – one of the worlds most widespread doggy illnesses.

It seems to be going around lately and I felt it was important to address – especially now that my precious Lulu seems to have contracted the awful illness.

Most of us know this particular illness as Kennel Cough but it also goes by a lot of different names, such as:

  1. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis
  2. Canine Cough
  3. Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)
  4. Infectious tracheobronchitis
  5. Bordetellosis
  6. Bordetella

Regardless of what we call it, the illness is highly contagious and extremely uncomfortable for our poor sweet furbabies.

The name Kennel Cough came about because the illness itself is highly airborne as well as being contagious via touch and contact.

Kennel Cough is very common in kennels where there are large amounts of dogs in small spaces, sharing space and unfortunately sickness.

In fact, Kennel Cough can be picked up from any place a dog with the illness has been, and the more dogs in the area, the more likely your dog is to catch it.

Common places dogs catch the Kennel Cough are:

  • Kennels
  • Pet boarding facilities
  • Pet daycare facilities
  • Agility training facilities
  • Dog training groups
  • Dog shows
  • Dog parks
  • The vets
  • The groomers
  • Pet shops

Kennel Cough is so contagious that it even can be shared among 2 dogs that are walking the same path.

How contagious is contagious?

As you’ve already read, Kennel Cough is an airborne illness. The bacteria from the infection attaches itself to small air particles that can land anywhere and everywhere. This makes the illness transferable via breathing it in as well as through contact with anything that has been near or on the infected dog.

Kennel Cough can be transferred via:

  • Coughs
  • Sneezes
  • Barks
  • Shed skin particles
  • Shared water and food bowls
  • Shared toys
  • Shared sticks
  • Touching noses
  • Sniffing other dogs

Kennel Cough bacteria and viruses can remain contagious for up to 2 weeks if they are airborne and up to 48 hours if they land on a surface – making it highly contagious over a long period of time.

So what is Kennel Cough?

Well, it turns out that Kennel Cough is not a cause but rather a symptom.

Kennel Cough is a symptom of upper respiratory distress caused by certain bacteria or viruses that are contracted via airborne particles or by contact. In other words, it will affect their throat, airways, lungs, windpipe and voice box.

Some of the most common bacteria and viruses to cause Kennel Cough are:

  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Influenza
  • Canine parainfluenza
  • Canine adenovirus
  • Reovirus
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus
  • Canine pneumovirus
  • Canine bocavirus
  • Canine hepacivirus
  • Streptococcus zooepidemicus

The combination of the bacteria Bordetella Bronchiseptica and the virus Canine parainfluenza being the most common cause of bringing on the dreaded Kennel Cough illness.

Kennel Cough is developed once your dog’s respiratory tract is attacked and weakened by the various bacteria and viruses, making them more susceptible to the symptoms of Kennel Cough.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

Symptoms include:

  1. A dry, hacking and somewhat honking cough
  2. Gagging
  3. Fever
  4. Lethargy
  5. Runny nose
  6. Sneezing
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Watery eyes

The most obvious and uncomfortable symptom being the cough itself. It’s something that can be aggravated and intensified with any physical activity and it can even be consistent for dogs that are resting.

Dogs can be coughing every few minutes and while the illness is not generally life-threatening, it does take a toll on your dog’s body and can leave them utterly exhausted and depleted of energy.

It’s also important to know that if your dog does have a fever during their Kennel Cough episode, it’s usually an indication that their body is working overtime to fight the infection and that you should pay extra attention to their health and well-being.

How long does Kennel Cough last for?

Because Kennel Cough is a virus of sorts, symptoms can last anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks depending on the severity of the infection.

But it is important to know that dogs contract the illness 5 to 10 days before the symptoms start to show.

It may also be alarming to know, but dogs who have the illness can still be somewhat contagious for up to 14 weeks once symptoms have developed.

So even though symptoms are present for only a few days or up to a week, your dog runs the risk of infecting other dogs for up to 14 weeks.

As dog owners, we really have to be careful and courteous when it comes to Kennel Cough and it’s ability to spread far and wide. If you know your dog has Kennel Cough be sure to consult your vet and also keep an eye out for next week’s blog where we discuss all the possible treatments and remedies for Kennel Cough.

Another note to consider is that while all breeds of dog are susceptible to the illness, puppies, older dogs and those dogs whose immune systems are compromised are more likely to catch the Kennel Cough and hold onto it for longer.

So what do I do next?

It’s always a good idea to seek professional advice from your local vet. And next week we’ll be releasing part 2 of the Kennel Cough series with more information around treating and preventing it.

If your dog is showing signs of Kennel Cough, monitor them closely. If their symptoms are not going away after 10 days, you may need another visit to the vet because their Kennel Cough could have caused secondary infections and unpleasant conditions.

Has your dog ever experienced Kennel Cough? What was it like for them AND you? We’d love to hear from you! Information shared is a potential life spared. Leave a comment or email us at sarah@frankandjellys.com.

Paws of Love,

Sarah (fur mum to Frank) xo

P.S. Are you in the Frank and Jellys ‘Doggy Detectives’ Facebook group? It’s a place where fur mums and dads go to make friends, test doggy products and share stories on best products. PLUS we always share tips and tricks as well as offering advice and sharing experiences when one of our furry friends is not well or not behaving! It’s great fun and it’s absolutely FREE to join! Come join the fun HERE xo.


Did you enjoy reading this post? Help us spread the word by sharing with a friend who might enjoy it.

Posted in