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Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, try saying that three times fast!

Not only is it a mouthful, but it can also be hard to understand.

You may be thinking, “Really? Another respiratory infection?!”

Yes and no.

You probably already know more about Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis than you’d think, but for more clarification, read on.

What is Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis?

Tracheobronchitis in Dogs
Canine infectious Tracheobronchitis is a disease frequently seen in dogs.

It’s also referred to as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) or “Kennel Cough”. 

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis results from many different irritants, viral and bacterial infections causing various respiratory symptoms.

Before you get too nervous, note that the disease is usually relatively mild and self-limiting.

What Viruses Cause Infectious Tracheobronchitis in Dogs?

Many viral agents can contribute to Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. All of the following viruses affect the upper respiratory system. As you may have guessed, this can lead to overlapping signs and symptoms.

These viruses are often associated with Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis.

  1. Parainfluenza
  2. Adenovirus Type 2
  3. Canine Distemper
  4. Canine Influenza
  5. Canine Herpesvirus
  6. Canine Reovirus
  7. Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

That’s quite a list! Now, what the heck are they?

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza or “dog flu” is a type A influenza virus referred to as H1N8, similar to the influenza virus in humans. This type of Canine influenza is not seasonal and can occur anytime. It is an airborne virus that spreads quickly from one dog to another.


Canine Parainfluenza or CPIV may have the word “influenza” in it, but it only confuses you! Though CPIV manifests similarly to Canine influenza, they are unrelated viruses.

Adenovirus Type 2

Canine Adenovirus Type 2 is a respiratory condition that is often associated with Canine Infectious Tracheiobrincitis. Adenovirus Type 2 or CAV-2 often causes a dry, retching cough. With appropriate supportive care, Adenovirus type 2 can pass within 3-10 days.

Although Adenovirus Type 1 (Canine Hepatitis) and Adenovirus type 2 are related, the two manifest with different signs, symptoms, and treatment.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a dangerous and contagious virus that affects domesticated dogs and their feral cousins like wolves and coyotes.

The Distemper virus attacks several vital systems of the body, including the:

  • Respiratory system
  • Nervous system
  • Gastrointestinal tract

Distemper often results in fatalities. Luckily, veterinarians offer a distemper vaccine that is considered necessary, recommended by veterinarians, and required by law in doggy social settings in many parts of the world.

Canine Herpesvirus

Canine herpes virus is spread via the exchange of fluids, licking, sniffing, or breeding. The ones most often affected by canine herpes virus are puppies who have acquired the infection from mom.

Canine herpesvirus causes:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures

Unfortunately, many puppies with Canine herpesvirus only live for a few days after clinical signs arise.

Canine Reovirus

Canine Reovirus restricts the number of nutrients and vitamins that the intestines may absorb, causing diarrhea. Though Reovirus doesn’t sound like it would contribute to Infectious Tracheobrinchotis, it suppresses the immune system and causes cold-like symptoms.

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

Not to be confused with the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, Canine Respiratory Coronavirus can be a culprit of kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis. Coronavirus in dogs is often relatively mild, showing itself with symptoms like mild cough, runny nose, and sneezing.

What Bacteria Causes Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis?

What is Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis
There are two types of bacteria that cause canine infectious tracheobronchitis:

  1. Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  2. Mycoplasma Canis

Let’s take a closer look.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Bordetella Bronchiseptica often takes the brunt of the blame for the causing of Canine infectious Tracheobronchitis. Although it’s not all Bordetella’s fault, it is the most common cause.

Bordetella is a highly contagious bacteria spreading through the air and direct contact, especially in confined areas with poor circulation.

Mycoplasma Canis

Mycoplasma Canis is a fancy way to say bacterial infection in dogs. The weird thing about mycoplasmas is these small groups of bacteria don’t have cell walls.

The most common symptoms of mycoplasma are those affecting the respiratory system; however, they can affect the urinary and reproductive systems.

What are the Signs of Canine Tracheobronchitis?

Signs of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

  • Coughing
  • Listlessness or disinterest
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite

The signs of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis are pretty general and self-explanatory for the most part. However, the cough can set this culmination of respiratory infections apart from others.

It’s not surprising that a multi viral and multifactorial respiratory infection could cause a terrible sounding cough, but what does kennel cough sound like?

Check out the link above for videos and a more in-depth look at the sounds that come along with Canine Infectious tracheobronchitis.

The cough that manifests from Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is often likened to that of a goose honk.

Characteristics of this defining sign and symptom are:

  • “Honking” cough
  • Hacking sounds like they are trying to cough something up.
  • Coughing up foamy white or yellowish mucous
  • A persistent cough that may even keep the poor pup awake at night.

What are the Symptoms of Canine Tracheobronchitis?

Symptoms of Tracheobronchitis
The symptoms of Canine infectious tracheobronchitis are what you might expect from an upper respiratory infection. These symptoms can be similar to those of the common cold or flu in humans.

Top 6 Symptoms of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Lethargy

What Is the Difference Between Infectious Tracheobronchitis and Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough vs Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis
Both Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis and Kennel Cough are umbrella terms for a combination of contagious bacterial and viral infections that manifest with yucky flu-like symptoms in dogs.

However, when looking into what causes Kennel Cough, it is often strictly associated with Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

Even though Bordetella Bronchiseptica is usually accompanied by at least one more viral infection causing kennel cough, Infectious Tracheobroinchitis is not strictly tied to the bacteria Bordetella, though it is a leading cause. Because of this, some may assume they are two different ailments when, in fact, they are the same.

Causes and Symptoms of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis or “Kennel Cough”

Causes Signs & Symptoms

Adenovirus Type 2

Canine Distemper

Canine Influenza

Canine Herpesvirus

Canine Reovirus

Canine Respiratory Coronavirus

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Mycoplasma Canis

Persistent cough



Runny eyes and nose

Swollen tonsils


Lack of appetite



Treatment for Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Treatment for Tracheobronchitis in Dogs
Since Canine Infectious Trcheobronchiotis encompasses so many plausible causes, the treatments for your dog may vary. Always consult your veterinarian with signs, symptoms, and concerns about your favorite canine.

Top Treatment Options for Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

  1. Supportive care
  2. Antibiotics
  3. Cough medicine
  4. Home remedies

Supportive care

A pet parent can contribute a lot to aid in healing and recovery through loving and supportive care.

Besides cuddles and kisses, supportive care includes:

  • Inspiring rest and hydration
  • Offering comfy and warm surroundings with proper air circulation
  • Offering healthy food in regularly cleaned bowls
  • Checking on your pet regularly
  • Isolating sick pets from others


Veterinarians often prescribe antibiotics to halt the reproduction of the most common bacterial culprit, Bordetella. One of the most popular antibiotics is Doxycycline for Kennel Cough.

Cough medicine

Kennel Cough medicine like antitussives and cough suppressants may help quiet a painful cough. Coughing tends to throw off quality sleep patterns, and sleep is necessary for healing. Cough medicine can be an option.

Home remedies

There are many remedies available at your local grocery store, or you may already have them in your home.

Home remedies for Kennel Cough include things like:

  • Shower steam therapy
  • Honey and lemon “tea.”
  • Coconut oil
  • Use of humidifiers
  • Removal of irritants

Treatment for Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis AKA “Kennel Cough”

Supportive CareInspiring rest and hydration

Offering comfy and warm surroundings with proper air circulation

Offering healthy food in regularly cleaned bowls

Checking on your pet regularly

Isolating sick pets from others

Home RemediesShower steam therapy

Honey and lemon “tea.”

Coconut oil

Use of humidifiers

Removal of irritants






Cough MedicineAntitussives

Cough suppressants

Who is the Most Vulnerable to Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis?

Who is most vulnerable to Canine Tracheobronchitis
In healthy dogs, it is likely that a case of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis will clear up without a hitch. However, some dogs will be more susceptible to a severe infection. These dogs include:

  • Immunosuppressed dogs
  • Puppies
  • Senior dogs

These vulnerable dogs are more likely to develop a more severe infection leading to pneumonia in dogs if left untreated. 

Is There a Vaccine for Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis?

Canine Bordetella Vaccine
Yes, and it’s simpler than you might think.

The list of possible bacterial and viral culprits is long; the vaccine list must be too, right?

Not so much. Though there isn’t one vaccine to immunize all, many vaccines are available in bivalent and trivalent forms.

For example, the core vaccine for distemper is administered by most veterinarians as the DHPP vaccine. DHPP offers immunity to:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Adenovirus

There are four essential vaccines in one little poke!

The “Bordetella” Vaccine

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis has a vaccine, often referred to as the Kennel cough or Bordetella vaccine. The Bordetella, a non-core vaccine, covers the bases that the core vaccines do not.

The intranasal kennel cough vaccine often comes in bivalent and trivalent forms too! The multi-purpose vaccine often includes Bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza, and adenovirus-2.

It is important to note that it is still possible to contract kennel cough even after vaccination, but the symptoms are often much less severe.

What to do if Symptoms of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis Persist?

If symptoms persist longer than a week or two after treatment, there may be another reason why your dog is feeling under the weather.

These reasons include but are not limited to:

Follow up with your vet for continued testing and treatment options.


The outlook for the treatment of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is brighter than ever. Scientists have been compiling that long list of culprits for years, and one by one, they are creating solutions and vaccines to keep your pets safe.

For a dog that is exposed to other dogs, Infectious Tracheobronchitis is always a possibility. But, with preventative care (vaccines) and a supportive and attentive parent (you), there is no reason why your furry family member won’t grow to ripe old age.