What You Need to Know About Kennel Cough

kennel cough in port st. lucie, flHave you ever heard of kennel cough? This disease is found in dogs and can affect most dogs very easily. It is easily transferrable and highly contagious, and although it does not usually lead to death, it can be tough for some dogs to heal from it quickly.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics you need to know about kennel cough in dogs. With this information, you can be sure you are well-informed of this common ailment that could affect your pet.

If you have any questions, feel free to call the Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie County at (772) 337-8570.

Causes of Kennel Cough

Bacterial causes

The most common cause of kennel cough by far is the Bordetella bacterium. This bacterium is very commonly found in places where unvaccinated dogs are kept in close quarters with each other, which is where the disease gets its common name of kennel cough.

Mycoplasma bacteria can also cause kennel cough. It is also a highly transmittable bacterium found commonly in dogs who are kept near each other, but it is less commonly the underlying cause of kennel cough.

Bacterial causes of kennel cough may sometimes respond to antibiotics, although not always. Your veterinarian will be able to give you more information about whether or not your dog needs an antibiotic for kennel cough.

Viral causes

Canine distemper can cause kennel cough, although it much more commonly causes a full-blown distemper infection. Canine parainfluenza is similar and may cause kennel cough but is much more likely to cause canine flu instead.

Canine coronavirus—which is not the same as coronavirus in humans and is not the same as the virus that causes covid-19—may also lead to kennel cough infections in dogs.

If your dog is diagnosed with a viral cause of this kennel cough, antibiotics will not be able to treat this condition. Your vet will give you more information.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Honking cough

This is the most common symptom of kennel cough. This type of cough sounds like the noise a goose makes when honking. The cough can be triggered by activity or by eating, but some dogs may cough without any environmental factors.

Sneezing and wheezing

Sneezing and wheezing are less common symptoms than the goose honk cough, but they can still be found in dogs who have kennel cough. They can sometimes be caused by other conditions as well, however, so keep this in mind.

Runny nose and eyes

Dogs may have a runny nose or watery, runny eyes if they have kennel cough.

Fever and lethargy

It is much less common for dogs with kennel cough to have a fever or become very lethargic than it is for dogs with other illnesses. However, these symptoms may still occur.



The most effective treatment is, of course, prevention. Have your dog vaccinated against canine parainfluenza, canine coronavirus, canine distemper, and Bordetella, and he will not be able to contract kennel cough.

Isolating sick dogs

If you have a sick dog, isolate that dog and do not allow any cross-contamination of food dishes, toys, leashes, bedding, or anything else. Kennel cough can be very easily transmitted from one dog to another.


Your vet will let you know if your dog needs antibiotics to treat kennel cough. Some forms of kennel cough can respond well to antibiotics, but many do not.


A humidifier can give some relief to a dog who is suffering from kennel cough. Keep a humidifier running in the room where your dog usually sleeps, but take care to place it on a high shelf so your dog can’t knock it over.

Rest and liquids

Rest and liquids can make a big difference in helping your dog heal quickly.


Very rarely, some dogs may be sick enough to require steroids to get over a case of kennel cough. Your vet will need to tell you more about this.

Outlook of Kennel Cough

Most dogs who contract kennel cough will heal with no trouble. However, it may take several weeks for even a fully healthy adult dog to completely get over a kennel cough infection, and it is tough on a dog’s body while he is fighting it.

Very rarely, dogs with underlying health conditions such as heart disease may die from kennel cough. Puppies and very old senior dogs are also at a greater risk of death from kennel cough or from developing pneumonia from this condition.

Kennel cough is a fairly common disease for dogs, but that doesn’t mean your dog is necessarily going to catch it at some point. If you keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date, you can ensure your pet will not get sick with kennel cough.

Additionally, if you plan to board your dog or take him to a doggie daycare, you will need to have him vaccinated against kennel cough.

This is true of any reputable boarding facility, so keep this in mind. Call the Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie County today at (772) 337-8570.