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Kennel cough encompasses a broad range of highly contagious upper respiratory illnesses.

These illnesses can also be referred to as infectious tracheobronchitis.

When looking into how long kennel cough lives on a surface, all possible offenders must be considered. 

In this blog, we’ll explain how long kennel cough lasts on surfaces in your home and provide you with guidance on how to sanitize and create an isolation area for any pets with kennel cough.

What Causes Kennel Cough – Virus or Bacteria?

When dealing with kennel cough, remember that it can be caused by either:

  • A Virus, or
  • Bordetella Bacteria.

1. Viruses

Many viruses can cause coughing in dogs. The following are the most commonly noted viruses in dogs who have had regular vet checkups and annual core vaccines and boosters.

Viruses that can contribute to kennel cough:

  1. Canine influenza
  2. Parainfluenza
  3. Adenovirus – Type II

Like the human flu, canine influenza, parainfluenza, and adenovirus-2 are viruses affecting the upper respiratory system causing coughing, runny nose, and other flu-like symptoms.

Adenovirus, Type II, as well as the other viruses mentioned are self-limiting and usually relatively mild, but symptoms can quickly become more serious when Bordetella jumps onboard.

2. Bordetella Bacteria

The kennel cough vaccine is usually for the proactive protection of the bordetella bacteria only. Because of this, dogs with the Bordetella vaccine can still develop kennel cough symptoms. These similar symptoms can be attributed to a virus, as mentioned above.

Here’s a mini chart showing how long viruses and bordetella last on various surfaces.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last On Surfaces?
SurfaceViruses Bordetella 
In the air2-3 hours3-4 hours
Non-porous surfacesUp to 48 hoursUp to 48 hours
Soft surfacesUp to 24 hoursUp to 24 hours

How Long Does The Kennel Cough Bacteria Bordetella Survive In The Environment?

How long bacteria bordetella survive
Bordetella Bronchiseptica doesn’t typically survive well outside of a host.

In rare cases, Bordetella has been known to survive for long periods outside of the host.

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica was found to survive in a combination of lake water and phosphate-buffered saline, from 10°C to 37°C for 24 weeks!
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica can also live in the soil for up to 45 days.

Where Does Kennel Cough Live In The Environment?

Where does kennel cough live
Kennel cough can survive and be contracted from the following three places:

  1. Air
  2. Contaminated items
  3. Soft surfaces


Well, it’s easy to see why this is the most contagious and sneaky “surface” because it’s not a surface at all.

These diseases’ airborne infectious properties are unpredictable and are ample reasons for any boarding facility, doggy daycare, or shelter to temporarily close its doors. Typically for two weeks from the last known verified kennel cough case.

How can I clean this? 

No amount of Lysol can completely eradicate the virus or bacteria from the air while an infected animal is still present. Sterilize the surrounding atmosphere by removing all infected animals, allowing the air to settle and sanitize thoroughly.

Aerosol droplets from Bordetella Bronchiseptica and common Canine viruses only last for 3 or 4 hours in the air. So, allow a few hours, then get busy disinfecting

Contaminated Items And Non-Porous Surfaces

You might be wondering: how long does kennel cough survive on contaminated items and non-porous surfaces?

Contaminated items and non-porous surfaces will include but not limited to:

  • Toys
  • Food & water bowls
  • Crates

Viruses like Canine influenza and others like it can live on non-porous surfaces for about 48 hours.

To sanitize, you may choose to wipe contaminated objects with a damp cloth first to remove debris, respiratory secretions, vomit, or other bodily fluids.

Next, use a disinfectant with chloride to wipe all non-porous surfaces down.

When cleaning toys, be sure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning with a disinfectant.

Remember, try not to expose your animals to harsh disinfectants or stinky cleaners, especially while they are suffering from a cough.

Soft Surfaces

By soft surfaces, we mean things like:

  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Plush toys
  • Clothing
  • Doggy beds

The time that it takes for Bordetella to die outside of a host is not proven. It is known, however, that Bordetella doesn’t tend to last long on everyday surfaces.

Viruses like Canine influenza and the like can live on clothing, bedding, dog beds, and other porous surfaces for about 24 hours.

How to rid soft surfaces of kennel cough

  • Wash all bedding, blankets, clothing, plush toys, or similar in hot water with your regular detergent. Simple.
  • Steam common areas that you can’t put in the washer like furniture and mattresses if necessary.

Now that we have gone over how long kennel cough lasts on surfaces and how to clean them let’s talk about how to quarantine and isolate your pet.

How to Isolate Kennel Cough

Isolate kennel cough
Isolation may be the most critical part of kennel cough recovery for the infected animal and everyone else in the house.

Several domesticated animals, like cats and guinea pigs, are susceptible to Bordetella bronchiseptica. In extreme cases, severely immunocompromised humans can get kennel cough.

How Long Should Animals With Kennel Cough Isolate?

Kennel cough symptoms usually persist for about ten days after inception. However, it is recommended that dogs with kennel cough stay isolated from other susceptible animals for two to three weeks.

How Can I Prepare For Kennel Cough Isolation?

We’ve created a simple guide to help you create a safe and comfortable isolation environment for any pets that have kennel cough.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Pick a room or a corner of a room to which your other animals and immunocompromised roommates do not have access.
  2. Clean, sanitize, and replace bedding, toys, and food and water bowls using the tips we talked about above. Make it cozy!
  3. Keep plenty of nutritious food and clean water readily available.
  4. Add a humidifier or vaporizer to the room if you have one. The extra moisture in the air will help loosen mucus and relieve a sore throat and coughing.
How To Sanitise Various Surfaces for Kennel Cough
Air- AKA aerosol dropletsAllow a few hours for all aerosol droplets to settle then begin sanitation
Non-porous surfaces and contaminated itemsWipe down items with a damp cloth to remove all debris and bodily fluids. Disinfectants typically contain chloride such as diluted bleach.

*keep your animals away from harsh cleaners and stinky disinfectants.*

Soft surfacesWash all plush toys, bedding, and clothing on hot with regular detergent.

Steam clean any soft surfaces that won’t fit in the washing machine.


Remember, kennel cough is very common and can not always be avoided, mainly if your dog frequents social outings and facilities, so don’t beat yourself up.

Isolation and sanitation are two of the critical components in treating kennel cough. 

Follow these simple steps before and after isolation for your canine companions’ successful recovery.