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Several treatment options exist for kennel cough in dogs. From prescription medication to natural remedies, there are many choices available, but which one is best for your dog?

Doxycycline is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for treating kennel cough in dogs.

Possible additions to your pup’s medicinal regimen may also include cough suppressants and pain reducers to aid in your dog’s full recovery from kennel cough.

Treating Kennel Cough With Antibiotics

After digging into the possible culprits for kennel cough, we know the Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria is the one most associated with the kennel cough illness.

Regardless of the mammal, whenever we are combating an illness caused by bacteria, antibiotics are needed to kill the bacteria and halt the further reproduction of cells. 

What Antibiotics Are Used For Kennel Cough?

Antibiotics for kennel cough
Many antibiotics can aid in the eradication of the bordetella bacteria causing your pup’s respiratory discomfort. The top five antibiotics used for kennel cough are:

  1. Doxycycline
  2. Clavamox (amoxicillin & clavulanic acid)
  3. Baytril or Enrofloxacin
  4. Trimethoprim-Sulfa
  5. Chloramphenicol

For more in-depth information on these top five antibiotics for kennel cough, check out our blog on kennel cough antibiotics. Today we will investigate the definition, uses, and efficacy of the antibiotic doxycycline for a dogs’ kennel cough.

What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a semi-synthetic antibiotic from the family of antibiotics, tetracycline. Doxycycline is derived from oxytetracycline, a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

This means doxycycline can treat such a vast range of and bacterial infections. Some bacteria have become resistant to oxytetracycline; therefore, the formulation is revamped to create new and more effective antibiotics like doxycycline.

Doxycycline is the most commonly used antibiotic by veterinarians because of its ability to target many bacterial infections.

Doxycycline is well absorbed by many mammals and can be given with or without food.

What Does Doxycycline Treat?

What does docycycline treat?
As a broad-spectrum antibiotic, doxycycline treats many different bacteria and the infections that they cause. Doxycycline is effective in ridding many mammals of the following bacteria.

  • Borrelia
  • Leptospira
  • Chlamydia
  • Mycoplasma
  • Bartonella
  • Bordetella, the kennel cough bacteria.

These bacteria can cause an array of infections, including kennel cough-infected wounds and many other diseases. Some of these infectious diseases include:

Tick-borne diseases:

  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Anaplasma
  • Lyme Disease (bacteria carried by ticks)

Parasitic diseases:

  • Heartworm disease
  • Toxoplasmosis

Bacterial diseases:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Mycoplasma
  • Chlamydia
  • Severe respiratory infections like kennel cough
  • Severe urinary tract infections
Use Doxycycline For:What is it?
Kennel cough and other respiratory infectionsAirborne bacterial infection
Urinary tract infectionsBacterial infection
LeptospirosisBacterial infection
MycoplasmaBacterial infection
ChlamydiaBacterial infection
EhrlichiosisTick-borne disease
Rocky Mountain spotted feverTick-borne disease
Lyme DiseaseTick-borne disease causing a bacterial infection.
Heartworm diseaseParasitic infection
ToxoplasmosisParasitic infection

Who Can Use Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is safe for intravenous use in dogs and cats. In capsule form, doxycycline has been used to eliminate bacterial infections in:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Cattle
  • Pigs

Doxycycline studies have been conducted as a pretreatment for animals with heartworm disease.

What is Doxycycline Hyclate?

Doxycycline Hyclate is a subset of this group of antibiotics. Hyclate is referring to the less critical part of the molecule. The cool part about hyclate is that it makes doxycycline water-soluble.

Because doxycycline Hyclate is water-soluble, it is commonly used in large amounts of water to treat avian diseases in birds and poultry.

Is Doxycycline Used For Kennel Cough?

Is doxycycline used for kennel cough
Yes, and often. Doxycycline is a powerful, partially synthetic antibiotic used to fight off many infections caused by bacteria. It can be a strong factor in regards to the popular question of how long does kennel cough last.

Doxycycline offers high bioavailability and is absorbed by the canine body efficiently. Hence why it is one of the most commonly used antibiotics in combating kennel cough in dogs.

Things To Remember When Administering Doxycycline For Kennel Cough:

  1. Always consult your vet and follow instructions and guidelines.
  2. Don’t give an animal a dry tablet
  3. Keep fresh water readily available.
  4. Avoid dairy and iron-rich foods.

Always Consult Your Vet And Follow Instructions And Guidelines

We know you’re a smart cookie, but we can’t leave this on out. In case you were considering treating your pet with antibiotics left over from your last case of strep throat or buying some prescription meds without a prescription, just don’t.

Don’t Give An Animal A Dry Tablet

Usually, dogs will take a tablet pretty willingly if wrapped in their favorite soft treat or lunch meat. When administering an antibiotic in this fashion, attention must be paid to ensure that the dog has swallowed the tablet.

Splitting and crushing antibiotics is ill-advised, for it can cause them to lose their efficacy. Mixing a can of food with a crushed tablet will most likely prove to be a waste of medication once the animal realizes their usually delicious food has been tainted by medication.

Keep Fresh Water Readily Available

It is essential to keep fresh water available always, but even more so when your dog is taking a new medication. Water is necessary to avoid any possibility of a choking hazard on a dry pill.

Equally as important, new meds can cause an increase in thirst in animals and humans alike. Do your canine best friend a favor and keep fresh, clean water available at all times.

Avoid Dairy And Iron-rich Foods.

To ease an upset stomach, veterinarians recommend giving doxycycline and food. However, you’ll want to avoid dairy and iron-rich foods while your dog is taking antibiotics.

Dairy products contain a ton of calcium which can interrupt or block the absorption of antibiotics in the bloodstream.

Iron can also interfere with the absorption of antibiotics and can decrease the efficacy of the medication.

Efficacy of Doxycycline for Kennel Cough

Doxycycline is available in the form of a liquid, pill, or capsule and effectively treats the kennel cough bacteria, Bordetella. Doxycycline is one of the most used and trusted antibiotics by veterinarians in shelter settings and private practices.

There are some conflicting beliefs on whether antibiotics like doxycycline should be used to treat kennel cough preemptively or not.

However, there is no argument that antibiotics are needed to treat the Bordetella bacteria that causes kennel cough in cats, dogs, and other animals.

Doxycycline falls within the tetracycline family of antibiotics. Tetracyclines are the most commonly prescribed type of antibiotics for treating kennel cough or Bordetella.

Side Effects Of Doxycycline For Kennel Cough

Doxycycline side effects for dogs are pretty minimal and usually relatively mild. Many dogs will not experience any adverse effects. In rare cases, your dog may experience the following.

Side effects of doxycycline in dogs are:

  1. Sensitivity to sun
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Lack of appetite

All medications have risks despite how small or significant they may be. Always keep an eye on your pet when administering new medications.

Possible Side Effects of Doxycycline
Side effectWhat to do about it
Sensitivity to sunMany tetracyclines cause the skin to be more prone to sunburn and sensitivity to UV rays

When your dog is on doxycycline keep them out of the sun.

VomitingTry offering antibiotics along with food. If stomach upset continues, consult your vet.
DiarrheaKeep a bland diet of things like white rice and vegetables to combat diarrhea. If diarrhea persists, consult your vet!
Lack of appetiteTry offering your sick pet something delicious and nutritious they can’t refuse. If your dog refuses to eat even the most delectable treats, it may be time to consult your vet with concerns.

Doxycycline Drug Interactions

Of course, your pet should not take doxycycline if they are allergic to tetracyclines or if they are on any of the following medications or supplements:

  • Oral antacids
  • Iron supplements
  • Bismuth
  • Pectin
  • Kaolin
  • Eronfloxcin
  • Penicillins
  • Phenobarbital

As we have mentioned before, always follow the instructions of your family’s trusted veterinarian.

Doxycycline For Kennel Cough Dosage

Doxycycline kennel cough dosage
The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a dosage of 5 – 10 mg of doxycycline per day for dogs battling infections like kennel cough. Dosage may also be recommended by your vet at 3 – 5 mg twice daily. However, for tick-borne diseases dosage may be higher.

Please don’t take our word for it; consult with your vet and carefully follow the medication prescribed instructions. 


When it comes to the Bordetella bacteria, Doxycycline for kennel cough is a great option. The side effects of Doxycycline are relatively rare and quite mild if experienced at all.

Sensitivities to tetracyclines or other antibiotics exist and must be mentioned to your veterinarian when considering Doxycycline for kennel cough.

Doxycycline is a popular antibiotic used by veterinarians worldwide to treat bacterial infections in dogs and cats. Staying informed and educated on the medications and treatments for your dog suffering from kennel cough will only make the prognosis for a more steady and successful recovery.