Kennel Cough in Dogs

Is your dog hacking constantly to the point of sounding like they’re gagging or choking? It’s possible that your dog has contracted kennel cough. While kennel cough can have multiple causes, it’s most commonly caused by a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica m-. This is why kennel cough is commonly referred to as Bordatella. 

Catching Kennel Cough

In order for a dog to catch kennel cough, they have to inhale the bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. A dog’s respiratory tract is usually lined with a coating of mucus that traps these particles, however there are several factors that can weaken this coating, such as:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Dust
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Travel-induced stress
  • Exposure to crowded or poorly ventilated conditions


The primary symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough that often sounds like a goose honk. Because of this, you can distinctly tell the difference between a “kennel cough” cough and the usual cough or “reverse sneeze” that dogs experience from time to time. Secondary symptoms that can occur with kennel cough are sneezing, a runny nose, and eye discharge.


It’s very important to remember that kennel cough is contagious! If you believe your dog has contracted kennel cough, keep them away from other pets/animals and contact your veterinarian to start the diagnosis and treatment process. 

While many cases of kennel cough clear up without veterinary treatment, antibiotic medications can be prescribed to help speed up the recovery process and decrease symptoms. Keeping your dog in a well-humidified area may also help alleviate their cough.


There are three different forms of vaccinations available to prevent kennel cough in dogs, with the primary difference being in how they are administered. One is administered as an injection, one as a nasal mist, and one by mouth. While it’s important to have your dog vaccinated against kennel cough, especially if you board or bring your dog to doggy daycare, it’s also important to note that the vaccination does not guarantee protection against all causes of kennel cough and cannot treat active infections. 

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