Skip to main content

Kennel cough makes everyone nervous.

And if your pup catches it, you’ll no doubt be worried and wondering…

Kennel cough is a widespread infection in dogs around the world. Most dogs will experience at least one kennel cough infection in their lifetime, several with only mild to moderate symptoms.

And a case of kennel cough can easily be lessened with preventative measures and cured with supportive care and maybe a bit of help from your veterinarian.

So, relax, take a deep breath, and read on for answers to frequently asked questions about kennel cough and how long you can expect your fur baby’s symptoms to persist.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?

When a close furry family member catches kennel cough, one of the first things a pet parent may wonder is, how long does kennel cough last? 

Watching a beloved dog suffer from a persistent cough or other upper respiratory symptoms can invoke more anxiety in the owner than the animal in some cases, for those stressed-out pet parents don’t fret.

Most common cases of kennel cough typically come and go without too much trouble between one and three weeks.

Here’s how long kennel cough lasts on different surfaces:

DurationIncubationOn FabricOn Non-porous Surfaces
2-3 weeks3-14 days24 hours48 hours

How Long is Kennel Cough Contagious?

How long is kennel cough contagious
Contagion of kennel cough depends on the viral or bacterial culprit. However, most doggy daycares and boarding facilities require at least two weeks and no clinical signs before a dog may return for socializing.

A good rule of thumb- keep your dog away from social situations for at least a week after all clinical signs have ceased.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Vaccine Last?

How long does kennel cough vaccine lastAfter the initial vaccine series, the kennel cough vaccine is typically administered annually.

However, if your dog regularly goes to any following establishments, consider a booster every six months instead. 

  • Groomer
  • Boarding facilities
  • Doggy daycare
  • Animal shelters
  • Dog parks

Check out our full article for more information on the kennel cough vaccine including how much it costs, how long it lasts, and more.

How Long Does it Take Kennel Cough to Go Away?

How long does it take for kennel cough to go away
The length of time it takes for kennel cough to go away can vary depending on the viral or bacterial infection that the dog has contracted.

For example, a study showed that young adult dogs with Parainfluenza showed clinical signs 4-6 days after exposure.

However, with the addition of other bacteria or viruses, kennel cough can last up to 21 days.

Just like humans have been dealing with a global pandemic, kennel cough can be more prevalent in certain areas or during certain seasons.

For example, a London veterinary practice recently warned of a kennel cough epidemic infecting dogs across the city.

That means dog owners in that area are advised to exercise caution and make adjustments to their dog’s routine to minimize the spread and risk of infection.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last in Dogs?

How long does kennel cough last in dogsYoung adult and middle-aged dogs are more equipped to fight off a case of kennel cough due to their fully developed yet youthful immune system.

Typically only seriously immunosuppressed dogs will encounter a fatal case of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. 

The safest thing to do for an immunosuppressed dog is to eliminate the possibility of exposure to the disease.

How to Eliminate Exposure to Kennel Cough

  • Don’t allow contact with dogs that show signs of kennel cough
  • Don’t board or visit a shelter with an immunosuppressed dog
  • Keep up on vaccines
  • Do not allow immunocompromised dogs around any other dogs if any clinical signs or symptoms arise.

Although the adolescent dogs may have a faster recovery time, most dogs, even puppies and seniors, recover from kennel cough with the help of a veterinarian and some tender loving care.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last in Cats?

How long does kennel cough last in catsYou might be wondering if – can cats get kennel cough?.

Yes, unfortunately, they can.

Cats are much less likely to acquire kennel cough due to their well-known, typically anti-social behaviour. Even the friendliest cats could probably do without the company of other animals.

How many times has anyone set up a kitty play date?

Although it is much less likely for the cat to get kennel cough than the dog, it is possible under the right circumstances.

Similar to their canine friends, kennel cough in cats usually only lasts 1-2 weeks.

Cats are more likely to get kennel cough from:

  1. An infected family member
  2. An animal shelter

Infected Family Member

One route of a kennel cough infection in cats is from an infected family feline or, more likely, canine family member. Rubbing faces, sneezes, sharing toys, and food and water bowls can ultimately influence cross-infection.

Animal Shelter

Animal shelters are the most commonplace to pick up kennel cough as well as the most dangerous.

Often a kitten will go into the shelter at a very young age. Many times these kitties are not yet vaccinated. Although the kennel cough vaccine and other core vaccines are required upon entering the shelter, they aren’t always administered fast enough.

Even with the Bordetella vaccine, there is no guarantee that the animal will not contract kennel cough.

The odds of this increase with the following risk factors for kennel cough transmission.

  • Crowded spaces
  • Poor ventilation
  • Contaminated areas
  • Sharing of toys, food and water bowls

It is simple to see how an animal shelter could be more likely to possess such risk factors.

Animal shelters are often overcrowded in a building donated by the city, without proper air circulation, and it isn’t usually the volunteers’ fault who give their time.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last in Puppies?

How long does kennel cough last in puppiesIn general, most kennel cough cases in puppies lasts 1-2 weeks.

Any disease is riskier when it affects a puppy, kitten or infant. Kennel cough in puppies carries more possibility of complications due to a few reasons.

  1. An underdeveloped immune system
  2. Lack of vaccination
  3. Infection from mother

An Underdeveloped Immune System

Puppies have yet to develop their immune systems fully, so they cannot fight off infection like their young adult counterparts. Puppies can be considered immunocompetent at 6-12 months, but immunocompetence is not always possible to predict. 

Smaller dogs usually reach physical maturity by one year, whereas big dogs can take up to two years to complete their stages of growth. At this stage, most dogs are at their peak and can easily fight off a case of kennel cough.

It can take up to 2 years for a dog to reach physical maturity. 

Lack of Vaccination

Puppies begin their first vaccination series at six to eight weeks old. Most initial vaccines come at six weeks, with a nine-week booster, 12-week booster, and year. After that, vaccine boosters can be given every one to three years.

An unvaccinated puppy is at high risk for disease, particularly in a shelter setting. Most shelters will not allow dogs or cats into the shelter without being fully vaccinated.

In some cases, shelters must vaccinate as early as three weeks to protect all the potential pets in the kennel.

Infection from Mother

A mother’s milk offers her antibodies to her puppies, giving them temporary immunity to infections and diseases to which she is immune.

Unfortunately, if a mother has Infectious Tracheobronchitis or “kennel cough”, the puppies will likely get that too.

How To Protect Your Puppy From Kennel Cough

In the beginning, it is essential to keep puppies shielded from possible infection and illness.

The best way to keep puppies safe from disease is a healthy mama and isolation from other unknown animals.

After the 12 weeks booster, the new pup can finally get out there and safely socialize with caution.

Remember, the kennel cough vaccine does not guarantee immunity to all canine coughs.

However, the vaccine can seriously lessen the severity of the illness.

How To Isolate a Dog with Kennel Cough

How to isolate a dog with kennel coughIsolation is an essential step in caring for a dog with kennel cough. It may seem a bit mean to keep your hound secluded from the rest of the pets in the home, but it is necessary. The following steps can help to plan and execute a successful and comfortable quarantine.

  1. Pick a cosy spot
  2. Sanitize
  3. Set up a recovery area
  4. Aid in recovery

Pick a Cozy Spot

First, pick a quiet and comfortable space where the sick pup can get cosy for the next week or two. This space could be a spare bedroom, the dog’s crate, or your bedroom.

*Severely immunocompromised humans who have had transplants, or are fighting cancer can get the kennel cough and should not cuddle their pups at this time.


Here is another crucial step for successful isolation. Sanitize everything! Kennel cough can stay on everything, particularly toys and food and water bowls.

  • Wash bedding and squishy toys
  • Mop or sanitize floors
  • Remove everything and sanitize the crate if applicable
  • Clean food and water bowl and fill with fresh, clean water often.
  • Clean non-porous toys in a sink of hot soapy water and rinse well.

Set Up a Recovery Area

Now, the fun part. Set up!

All the sanitization pays off when the now clean and fresh room is ready to be re-cosied. Ensure everything is dry before replacing it with clean, fluffy blankets, fresh food, water, and favourite soothing toys.

Aid in Recovery

When treating a pet with kennel cough, there are several things a pet parent can do to aid in a successful recovery.

  1. Use a humidifier
  2. Check on your pup often
  3. Be cautious of collars
  4. Keep that baby warm

Do you have a humidifier or vaporizer? Lend it to the dog’s healing haven to keep air moist to soothe a sore throat and cough.

Kennel Cough Recovery Guide

A dog may be very docile and uninterested in activities in the first few days of a kennel cough infection.

Usually, this doesn’t last long! Always be sure to check on an isolated dog frequently.

After a few days, as symptoms start to improve, a dog will begin to get bored, and they will need a distraction. Dogs in isolation will still have to go for walks outside to go potty.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when walking a sick dog:

  • Use a harness instead of a collar to walk your dog. A dog collar when used to walk on a leash, can pull or squeeze in the dog’s windpipe, ensuing coughing and perpetuating a sore throat and irritation.
  • Some dogs experience exercise intolerance. Limit exercise. Take short walks.
  • Do not expose sick dogs to cold temperatures. If it’s below 7°c then just a quick pee and back inside! Puppy pads are always an option if a dog can’t or won’t go outdoors to potty.

How Long After Kennel Cough Can a Dog Be Boarded?

Dogs who display clinical signs and symptoms of kennel cough must stay away from boarding facilities for a minimum of 14 days from the onset of the illness.

Typically it takes about two weeks to shed the bacteria or virus.

Generally, wait a week after all symptoms and signs have come to a halt.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last in the Environment?

How long kennel cough lasts in the environment is dependent on the number of infected animals. Often this is hard to determine, considering a kennel cough outbreak can force a boarding facility to close down for two weeks due to the ease of transmission between dogs.

Kennel cough spreads through aerosol droplets, so it’s virtually impossible to eliminate risk in a boarding facility, an animal shelter or doggy daycare without shutting down. Dogs with kennel cough must allow at least 14 days before returning to not re-infect the facility.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last on Surfaces?

How long does kennel cough live on surfaces? Well, it depends on the surface.

Viruses like Canine Influenza can last on non-porous surfaces for up to 48 hours.

However, the Bordetella bacteria don’t survive well outside of the host, living on non-porous surfaces for about 24 hours.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last on Clothes?

On soft surfaces, kennel cough lasts for about 24 hours. Porous surfaces like clothes, bedding and dog beds should be washed in hot water to help eliminate the risk of any cross-contamination.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last with Antibiotics?

Kennel cough is often treated with antibiotics to combat the bordetella bacteria. Antibiotics will start to work immediately and limit the length of the illness.

However, because kennel cough is often a mix of bacterial and viral infections, symptoms persist until the virus runs its course.

Kennel cough usually lasts anywhere from one to three weeks. 

How Long Does it Take for Kennel Cough to Show Up?

There is always time between contraction and the onset of clinical signs and symptoms of viral and bacterial infections; this is called the incubation period.

Clinical signs of Kennel CoughRisky Places to Catch Kennel Cough
Dry, hacking cough

“Honking” cough

Ocular and nasal discharge



Lack of appetite

Low fever


Boarding facilities

Doggy daycare

Animal Shelter

What is the incubation period of kennel cough?

It typically takes 3-5 days from when a dog interacts with an infected dog for symptoms to manifest, but the incubation period can take up to 2 weeks.

During this time, the dog will shed the infection, which will be very contagious to any animal within spitting distance. Isolate!


Just when you think that’s all there is to know about Kennel Cough, there’s more! Hopefully, this article of frequently asked questions will help curtail any anxiety a loving pet owner may have about kennel cough.

There is a plethora of kennel cough information just a click away. 

Check out other articles like What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like? and What Causes Kennel Cough? as well as treatment options and more.