When we consider the best medicine for kennel cough, we should first look to our veterinarian for consultation and advice.

We aim to provide the most up-to-date and factual advice about kennel cough and kennel cough medicine.

While online articles have the best intentions, internet resources should always be treated as a supplement and never a substitute for expert advice from a vet.

Some kennel cough medicines are available via prescription only. Some over-the-counter kennel cough medicines are available at your local grocery or drug store that can also aid in treating kennel cough in dogs.

Before we jump in, let’s review.

What Is Kennel Cough?

A dry, hacking, and honking coughs are most often associated with Kennel Cough. Kennel cough is a prevalent and contagious condition spread with ease throughout animal shelters, kennels, and other places where dogs are near each other.

Kennel cough comes from the bacteria Bordetella.

Bordetella is often accompanied by a virus such as Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, or Distemper. Other symptoms may include runny eyes, yellow or watery nasal discharge, and sneezing.

Kennel cough is rarely fatal and typically will only cause minor discomfort. However, if a dog develops a fever, loses its appetite, or suffers from lethargy, see your vet immediately. These could be signs of something more serious.

What Medicine Can I Give My Dog For Kennel Cough?

Medication for kennel cough
Several kennel cough medicines work in combination to help diminish the symptoms of kennel cough.

From prescription to over-the-counter to home and natural remedies, there are many ways to help your dog recover from kennel cough.

Kennel Cough Medication

When we talk about kennel cough medicine, we will break it into two major subsections.

  1. Prescription kennel cough medicine
  2. Over-the-counter medicine

Prescription Kennel Cough Medicine

Antibiotics for kennel cough
First, let’s delve into the kennel cough medicine that only the doctor can prescribe. These include:

  1. Antibiotics
  2. Cough suppressants

Antibiotics As Kennel Cough Medicine

Doxycycline

Doxycycline may be the most popular kennel cough antibiotic used to treat the bacteria Bordetella. Doxycycline is a safe kennel cough medicine for most dogs and puppies.

Doxycycline comes from the family of drugs, tetracycline. It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, meaning it can treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Doxycycline does not treat fungal or viral infections.

Avoid iron-rich foods and dairy when taking doxycycline. These can lessen or completely mute the effects of the antibiotic.

Side effects of doxycycline include:

  • Sensitivity to sun
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

Dosage for doxycycline is recommended at 5-10mg per day.

Enrofloxacin

Enrofloxacin, another medicine for kennel cough from the fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics, can eliminate the bordetella bacteria that causes kennel cough.

Enrofloxacin, also known by the brand name Baytril is available in tablet form only and works best on an empty stomach; however, if your dog experiences nausea or vomiting, go ahead and try giving it with food the next dose.

Do not crush tablets or accompany dairy, for it will block or dull the effects.

Side effects of Enrofloxacin include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Baytril can cause abnormalities in the joints’ cartilage in growing dogs, so this may not be the right choice for your puppy with kennel cough.

The dosage of Enrofloxacin is anywhere from 5-20mg, depending on the weight of the dog.

Clavamox (Amoxicillin & Clavulanic Acid)

Clavamox is a popular antibiotic and kennel cough medicine for dogs. Clavamox is technically a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, hence the name Clavamox.

Though Clavamox is a synthetic, penicillin-like antibiotic, penicillin alone will not treat Bordetella bronchiseptica. The addition of clavulanic acid is essential in this antibiotic for kennel cough.

Clavamox typically comes in tablet form but may be available in liquid form in some instances. Clavamox tablets should be taken with food to avoid nausea.

Side effects of Clavamox:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

A dog’s recommended dosage of Clavamox is 6.25 mg per pound, while a cat’s dosage is 62.5 mg.

Kennel Cough Medicines, Side Effects, and Interactions

Medicine for kennel cough
We’ve created a helpful table of all the common kennel cough medicines, so you can compare treatments and learn about potential side effects for your dog.

MedicineSide effectsPossible interactionsDosage for dogs
DoxycyclineSensitivity to sun

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Lack of appetite

Oral antacids

Iron supplements

Bismuth

Pectin

Kaolin

Eronfloxcin

Penicillins

Phenobarbital

5-10mg per day.
EnrofloxacinVomiting

Lack of appetite

Diarrhea

*Not for use in puppies. Can cause abnormalities in the joints of growing dogs.

Antacids

Dairy

Other antibiotics

Doxorubicin

Corticosteroids

Quinidine

Sildenafil

Sucralfate

Nitrofurantoin

Iron

Zinc

Levothyroxine

Anywhere from 5-20mg, depending on the weight of the dog.
ClavamoxNausea

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Anti-inflammatories

Pain medication

Blood thinners

Erythromycin

Other antibiotics

Aminoglycosides

Cephalosporins

6.25 mg per pound
Robitussin DMMild sedation

Dizziness

Nausea

Sedatives

Antihistamines

Narcotics

Central nervous system depressants

Dependent on weight

Not recommended for animals under 10 pounds.

Over-The-Counter Kennel Cough Medicine For Dogs

  1. Guaifenesin
  2. Dextromethorphan

Guaifenesin

Guaifenesin is an expectorant used by vets for many reasons, such as:

  • a relaxant
  • a mild anesthetic for minor procedures
  • an expectorant or kennel cough medicine that aids in clearing congestion.

Expectorants are a form of mucoactive agent and a trusted kennel cough cure. A mucoactive agent is a class of chemicals that aids in clearing mucus by increasing the water content, therefore loosening gooey gunk and making it easier to cough up and expel.

Expectorants are in a lot of over-the-counter medicines used for colds and congestion. Guaifenesin is one of the two active ingredients in Robitussin DM. 

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a common antitussive sometimes used as a kennel cough medicine. Dextromethorphan is the first active ingredient in Robitussin DM, which can be used as a kennel cough medicine with caution.

Dextromethorphan is antitussive. Antitussives are typically addictive opioids like morphine and codeine. Dextromethorphan is unique because it is non-addictive with less severe side effects than its counterparts.

Antitussives relieve coughing by way of the brain. They affect the medulla oblongata to cause the brain to shut off the cough receptors. Pretty cool, right? 

Dextromethorphan isn’t something you want to get used to giving your dog all the time. It can still have some woozy side effects like:

  • Mild sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

These are common side effects of any cure and pale in comparison to some of the side effects from the more potent antitussives.

Robitussin DM as kennel cough medicine.

Veterinarians have been using Robitussin DM to quiet coughing dogs for years, but caretakers must pay close attention to dosage instructions.

While Robitussin’s active ingredients will quiet a dog’s cough, it will not eradicate the bordetella bacteria; you will need vet-prescribed antibiotics for that.

Be sure to talk to your vet about mixing kennel cough medicine. Don’t give your dog more than one prescription at a time, and ask about combining prescription kennel cough medicine with over-the-counter kennel cough medicine.

We have created a table to aid in the dosage for dextromethorphan and guaifenesin as a kennel cough medicine.

Antitussive or expectorantDosageSide effects
Dextromethorphan½  teaspoon per 10 pounds

Or

2.46 milliliters

Or

5 – 7.5 milligrams

*Cats 2-4 milligrams

  • Mild sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
Guaifenesin (expectorant)½ teaspoon per 10 pounds

Or

2.46 milliliters

Or

30 – 50 milligrams

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Mild decrease in blood pressure
  • A minor increase in cardiac rate

Where Can I Buy Kennel Cough Medicine?

Where to buy kennel cough medicine
You may already know that you can find anything on the internet. Good or bad, that is the case, but there is not a guarantee what you are getting off of a random site is legit. Use caution when buying your pet medicine anywhere but from a veterinarian.

Robitussin DM is available at most drug stores and grocery stores around the world and on Amazon. If you choose to use this kennel cough medicine, it is imperative to get Robitussin DM which does not contain codeine.

For severe cough, your veterinarian may recommend pain medication, but that will be up to their discretion and the severity of the cough in question.

Your veterinarian prescribes antibiotics, but some like Clavomaox can be dispatched by places like 1-800-Petmeds or Chewy.com in some cases.

When you order kennel cough medicine from such places, they will have to contact your vet for prescription verification, so if you need the meds now, don’t wait. Just head to the pharmacy and get the healing started ASAP.

Conclusion

When searching for a kennel cough cure, knowing the basics about the medicine that your dog may be taking can limit confusion, raise confidence in caring for your dog with kennel cough, and allows some extra insight into possible interactions and side effects.

Medication for kennel cough is often needed for a full recovery from a kennel cough infection. Staying informed is helpful and necessary for a doting dog parent like yourself.