Dog sick with kennel cough lying on couch

Key takeaway

Kennel cough is a highly contagious virus that can be treated through supportive care, cough suppressants, antibiotics, and hospitalization. Kennel cough treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the pet’s overall health.

Kennel cough is one of the more common medical conditions in dogs, especially dogs who spend a lot of time in large groups, such as animal shelters or boarding facilities. Dogs who have kennel cough may show symptoms including a loud cough, eye discharge, and sneezing. The good news is, there are kennel cough treatment options if your dog has recently caught kennel cough.

In most cases, kennel cough isn’t a very serious medical condition. With proper treatment, your dog will eventually get better and kennel cough isn’t typically fatal. That being said, there are certain complications that may arise from kennel cough, and kennel cough treatment can help shorten infections. This is why it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet if they have symptoms of kennel cough.

If you want to know more about treating kennel cough and kennel cough treatment at home, check out the rest of this article for more details about kennel cough and how it’s treated.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a disease characterized by inflammation of the trachea that occurs as a result of an infection. This infection can be a result of several different causes, including things like canine adenovirus 2, canine influenza, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine distemper virus in some cases. These infections are typically passed from one dog to another, which is why dogs who spend a lot of time in training groups or boarding facilities may be at higher risk of developing kennel cough. Kennel cough is also more likely to spread in susceptible dogs. Dogs of all ages can be affected by kennel cough.1

Symptoms of kennel cough include a loud, rough cough, a runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and a low-grade fever. Your dog may experience some or all of these symptoms if they have kennel cough, but the coughing is generally the easiest symptom to recognize. Your vet can usually diagnose kennel cough by looking at your dog’s medical history and symptoms and performing a physical exam.

The good news about canine kennel cough is that it’s not generally considered a serious medical condition. In fact, kennel cough can go away on its own in many cases. However, it’s important to take your dog to the vet if they have kennel cough because it may lead to more serious complications if left untreated.

Kennel Cough Treatment

While kennel cough can go away on its own, medical intervention is an important part of preventing kennel cough complications and getting your dog healthy as quickly as possible. There are several kennel cough treatment methods that are commonly used depending on the severity of the illness.

Supportive Care

Supportive Care

Supportive care refers to general care that helps your dog fight off the infection and allows their body to recover. This supportive care includes rest, nutrition, and hydration. Like people, dogs need plenty of time to rest and recover when they’re dealing with an infection, so this supportive care can go a long way toward helping your dog get better.

In addition to making sure your dog gets plenty of rest, proper nutrition and hydration are crucial. Talk to your vet about making sure your dog is getting enough food and water if they have kennel cough.

Cough Suppressants

Cough Suppressants

Cough suppressants are another mild kennel cough treatment option for some dogs. Because coughing is one of the most prominent symptoms of kennel cough, these cough suppressants can play a crucial role in reducing symptoms. That being said, you should talk to your vet before you give your dog cough suppressants or any other medication for kennel cough treatment at home.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics

In more severe cases, treatment for kennel cough in dogs may also include antibiotics. Antibiotics can help your dog fight off the infection that’s leading to kennel cough, which is a crucial step in recovering. However, it’s up to your vet to decide whether or not antibiotics are the right treatment option for your dog based on the severity of their kennel cough. It’s also important to talk to your vet about how to administer antibiotics and follow their instructions closely, including administering all of the antibiotics your dog is prescribed.

Hospitalization

Hospitalization

In very severe cases of canine kennel cough, your dog may require hospitalization for treatment. Hospitalization is typically required when a dog is experiencing severe symptoms of kennel cough that are affecting their respiratory system. If your dog is having trouble breathing, they may need oxygen therapy at an animal hospital. Your dog may also need IVs to make sure they’re staying hydrated.

While hospitalization as a result of kennel cough isn’t especially common, it can happen if kennel cough is left untreated. If your dog has a bad cough or other symptoms of kennel cough, you should always take them to the vet for a diagnosis.

Kennel Cough: Preventative Care

In addition to kennel cough treatments, there are also preventative care measures you can take to reduce your dog’s risk of getting kennel cough. The most important thing you can do to prevent kennel cough in dogs is to make sure they’re immunized against the viruses that can lead to kennel cough, including parainfluenza, distemper, and CAV-2. These vaccines can help greatly reduce the risk of kennel cough in dogs.2

If your dog is susceptible to kennel cough or may experience medical complications as a result of kennel cough, you may want to keep them away from boarding facilities, training groups, and other large groups of dogs. Canine kennel cough is more likely to spread in these groups, so avoiding them can help prevent kennel cough as well.

Kennel Cough Treatment FAQs

What is the fastest way to cure kennel cough?

The fastest way to cure kennel cough is to make sure your dog is getting plenty of rest, water, and the nutrients they need to recover. If your dog has kennel cough, you should talk to your vet about what you can do to treat kennel cough at home. Your vet can also determine the severity of your dog’s kennel cough, which helps them decide whether supportive care such as rest and hydration are adequate treatment options or if hospitalization or antibiotics are required.

How long does kennel cough last?

In mild and moderate cases of kennel cough, most dogs get better in about three weeks with treatment. Keep in mind that the recovery time for kennel cough depends on several factors, so kennel cough treatment can help speed up the recovery time a bit. It’s also important to note that kennel cough may get worse in some dogs if left untreated, so it’s not something you want to treat at home. If you think your dog has kennel cough, the first thing you should do is call your vet to schedule an appointment for an exam.

How can I treat my dog’s kennel cough at home?

There’s no simple answer when it comes to treating kennel cough at home. Some cases of kennel cough require medical intervention, and every case is different from the next in terms of severity. If you think your dog has kennel cough, take them to the vet for a diagnosis. Your vet can determine whether your dog has kennel cough, how severe it is, and what the best kennel cough treatment option is. When it comes to kennel cough treatment at home, the best thing you can do is follow any instructions your vet gives you.

Can kennel cough go away on its own?

Mild and moderate cases of kennel cough may go away on their own after a while, but you shouldn’t wait around to find out. Kennel cough is highly contagious and can spread quickly between pets during the incubation period. If you think your dog has kennel cough, schedule an appointment with your vet to get treatment started as soon as possible. Dogs with kennel cough need plenty of rest, hydration, and the right nutrients. In some cases, your vet may also recommend antibiotics, oxygen therapy, or IVs to help treat kennel cough. Because kennel cough can vary so much from case to case, taking your dog to the vet is important.

Dog being examined by vets

Final Notes

Kennel cough is a fairly common medical condition in dogs, especially if your dog spends a lot of time in a boarding facility or training group with several other dogs. You can reduce the risk of kennel cough by making sure your dog has all the immunizations they need, including the CAV-2 and parainfluenza vaccines. While kennel cough isn’t generally serious, you should take your dog to the vet if you suspect they have it.

With Dutch, you can get vet help online from the comfort of your home. Dutch connects you with vets through video chat, so you can schedule an appointment and get professional help from your living room. If you think your dog has kennel cough, try Dutch and schedule a video chat with a vet today.

References

  1. Tonozzi, Caroline C. “Kennel Cough - Respiratory System.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/respiratory-system/respiratory-diseases-of-small-animals/kennel-cough?query=kennel+cough.

  2. Burke, Anna. “5 Facts about the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 26 May 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/facts-bordetella-vaccine-dogs/.