Kennel Cough

The ultimate guide to help your dog recover quickly. This page covers all of the main categories of canine cough, bordetella, and other closely related topics at a high level and will help you navigate to other articles for more information if needed.

    Kennel cough, eek! Many dog owners shriek at the thought of their sweet bundle of fur “catching” the ghastly illness. It can be overwhelming for you, the doting dog owner, to know where to start.

    What should I do first, next, and last? You might be wondering as you stress about the cough your dog developed overnight.

    We understand, and we’re here to help you and your pup treat and cure kennel cough; with the help of your veterinarian, of course.
    Now take a moment to get comfy with your best bud (your dog), and let’s talk everything through.

    What is Kennel Cough?

    Kennel cough is a somewhat crude term for canine tracheobronchitis, a highly contagious upper respiratory infection. Why is this condition dubbed kennel cough, you ask? We can answer that while simultaneously answering the following questions:
    1. How do dogs get kennel cough?
    2. What causes kennel cough
    3. How is kennel cough spread

    How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?

    How do dogs get kennel cough?
    Kennel cough is one of the most common illnesses that a dog can contract. Dogs that are the most likely to have a run-in with kennel cough are those that often hang out with their other canine pals. As you might then assume, a dog is most likely to pick up kennel cough at places like:

    • Boarding facilities
    • Animal shelters
    • Doggy daycares
    • Dog parks

    Facilities boarding animals often have high sanitation standards and great attention to detail. The likelihood of a kennel cough outbreak is usually not correlated to the staff’s or establishment’s sanitary efforts.

    Kennel cough spreads quickly, and with ease, anywhere dogs are in close quarters. Making these types of places breeding grounds for the bacteria causing kennel cough. Now that’s putting the “kennel” in “kennel cough”.

    What Causes Kennel Cough

    What causes kennel cough?
    As we mentioned before, bacteria is the cause of commotion when it comes to kennel cough. Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a small, rod-shaped bacterium that causes upper respiratory inflammation and irritation, primarily in dogs. Cases exist of Bordetella bronchiseptica in dogs, cats and humans.

    Unfortunately, kennel cough cannot always be eradicated simply by killing the bacteria. Many times, the bordetella bacteria is accompanied by a virus attacking the respiratory system. Common viruses that team up with Bordetella are:

    • Parainfluenza
    • Adenovirus II
    • Canine influenza
    • Distemper

    Vaccines exist for all of these viruses, though canine influenza is not a core vaccine, meaning it is not required. Please inquire with your veterinarian about optional vaccines that may be necessary for your situation.

    The Adenovirus II vaccine protects against adenovirus II, a cause of upper respiratory discomfort, as well as adenovirus I (hepatitis). Therefore the CAV-2 or Adenovirus 2 vaccine is usually included in a combination vaccine along with parainfluenza, distemper, and parvovirus.

    Suppose you are unsure if your dog is receiving the combination vaccine, including CAV-2; ask your veterinarian. They won’t mind!

    Kennel Cough Virus Vaccines

    VirusVaccineHow often?Core or Non-core?
    ParainfluenzaDHPP (distemper, adenovirus I & II, parainfluenza, & parvovirus)Every 1 – 2 years after the initial puppy vaccine seriesCore
    Adenovirus IIDHPP (distemper, adenovirus I & II, parainfluenza, & parvovirus)Every 1 – 2 yearsCore
    Canine InfluenzaInfluenzaEvery 1-2 years after puppy vaccine series.Non-core
    Canine DistemperDHPP (distemper, adenovirus I & II, parainfluenza, & parvovirus)Every 1 – 2 years after the initial puppy vaccine seriesCore

    How Does Kennel Cough Spread?

    How does kennel cough spread?
    Now we know that kennel cough spreads quickly in boarding facilities,
    but why? 

    The kennel cough bacteria Bordetella Bronchiseptica flourish in crowded, warm, and poorly ventilated areas.

    Bordetella Bronchiseptica is transmitted and shared between hosts via aerosol droplets. This means that a dog barely has to sniff in the direction of one with kennel cough to be infected.

    The most common ways that kennel cough spreads are:

    1. Aerosol droplets
    2. Direct contact
    3. Shared toys

    Aerosol droplets

    No, we aren’t talking about your hairspray. These aerosol droplets are also a spray but coming from dog’s noses and mouths. A sneeze, a sniff, or a friendly bark from one dog to another can lead to a long-drawn-out game of kennel cough telephone.

    Airborne droplets will surely be more avid to reach a dog’s respiratory system if they are in a place like the ones we talked about above. Those places are crowded, poorly ventilated, and warm like animal shelters and boarding facilities.

    Direct contact

    Direct contact with an infected dog is a sure-fire way to acquire kennel cough. Direct contact is bound to happen at an animal shelter or doggy daycare, but a pup could just as easily have an unfortunate encounter at the daily dog park visit.

    Many pet owners may not know their dog has kennel cough in the beginning stages. The incubation of Bordetella bronchiseptica is anywhere from 3 to 14 days!

    Shared toys, food, and water bowls

    Sharing is usually a good thing, and we would never want to discourage that, except for now!

    If your pet has kennel cough, do not allow them to use and share anything other pets may use, just during this time of illness. We will talk about isolation later, which we have all become pretty familiar, in the last year.

    What Makes Dogs More Vulnerable To “Catching” Kennel Cough?

    1. Cold temperatures
    2. Travel and stress
    3. Dust, smoke, and other irritants

    Cold temperatures

    Cold temperatures aren’t exactly a cause of kennel cough. However, allowing a dog to stay out in the cold longer than is necessary will weaken their immune system leaving them more vulnerable to illness.

    Travel and stress

    Traveling with your dog is one of the best things ever. Isn’t it what we all want? A nice, long, transformative road trip with your dog with the wind in your fur with adventure ahead and the humdrum behind you, living your best lives.

    Of course, you can travel with your dog, but be attentive and aware of their actions and body language. You know your dog; if they’re uncomfortable or extra whiny, consider taking shorter rides at first.

    I hate to say it, but some dogs don’t like riding. Some dogs get bouts of motion sickness or hate loud sounds of engines starting or doors slamming (noise aversion). The point is to be aware of and avoid unnecessary stress whenever possible.

    Way to catch kennel coughWhere to catch kennel cough
    Confined and crowded places with poor air circulationBoarding facilities, animal shelters, doggy daycare.
    Direct contactDog park, daycare, shelters, boarding facilities.
    Shared contaminated toys and bowlsAnywhere sharing food and water bowls are allowed.
    Cold temperaturesLeaving dogs outside or in a cold area for longer than necessary.
    Travel/stressAir travel, new home, vet visits

    Dust, Smoke and Other Irritants

    We’re sure you’re as cleanly as can be, but sometimes we forget that our pets can be extra sensitive to smells and allergens.

    Some things to keep in mind if you are worried about your dog’s cough are:

    • Fire ash
    • Household sprays
    • Air fresheners
    • Second-hand smoke
    • Dust mites
    • Mould
    • Potent cleaning products like bleach

    Dogs have an uncanny sense of smell, so if you can smell it, they can smell it tenfold. Be courteous and caring and keep the irritants to a minimum.

    Kennel Cough in Puppies

    Oh my goodness, aren’t puppies just the cutest? Witnessing a case of kennel cough in puppies is heartbreaking. To see your new bundle of fuzzy joy suffering from a retching cough, or lethargy. Have you ever met a lazy puppy? Me either; it’s just sad.

    Puppies are sensitive. They not only need a ton of your extra time, attention, and affection, but they need you to do what’s best for them even if it isn’t fun.

    We all want to introduce your pup to our friends and their dogs, or immediately try a trip to the dog park or doggy cafe. Of course, you’re excited, but it is crucial to be very aware and use extreme caution when introducing your puppy to random animals and surroundings.

    It’s wise to keep puppies away from other dogs for the first couple of months of their lives.

    Adopting Vs. Buying a Puppy

    Adopting a puppy from a shelter or rescue has its perks. Odds are the puppy will have had their initial series of vaccines. They’ve probably even spayed or neutered. In that case, you don’t have to be quite as cautious because the new member of your family is already past the extremely delicate phase of their life.

    If you are buying a puppy from a breeder or even acquiring a puppy from a friend or relative, a lot of times, those little guys are just off of their mother’s milk. It is recommended that puppies stay on their mother’s milk for eight weeks minimum.

    Selling puppies under the age of 8 weeks is illegal; however, this article suggests that one in four puppies are being sold before the recommended age in the U.K. 

    If you are considering adopting a young pup, we in no way want to discourage that; all dogs need good homes. It isn’t their fault they are being taken away from their mother too soon. We only hope to express the urgency of being cautious of your puppy’s surroundings while they are so young and susceptible.

    Why are Puppies at Higher Risk for Kennel Cough?

    Puppy at risk kennel cough
    Puppies are more vulnerable to kennel cough because they haven’t had the time to develop a fully functioning immune system yet. Not only that, but they may not have had all of their vaccines.

    Puppies do receive a certain amount of immunity to disease thanks to their maternal antibodies.

    Maternal antibodies offer passive immunity to diseases, including Bordetella and Parvovirus (a particularly scary one for puppy parents) to which mama is immune or fully vaccinated against.

    If the mother doggo has been vaccinated on schedule, then puppies will receive immunity from their parent.

    What’s the problem then?!

    Though puppies do receive immunity to disease from mom, it’s only on loan, maybe for a couple of weeks, maybe for a few months.

    The efficacy and amount of maternal antibodies are different per situation, so don’t bank on mother blessing puppy with immunities, keep vaccines on schedule to avoid unhealthy mishaps.

    Bordetella in Dogs

    Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a bacteria causing inflammation and irritation of the upper airways in many animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, birds, and in really rare cases, even humans.

    Bordetella Bronchiseptica is most commonly associated with the ever-dreaded “kennel cough”, also known as Canine Tracheobronchitis.

    Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria is so often associated with kennel cough that the vaccine for Bordetella is dubbed, you guessed it, “the kennel cough vaccine”.

    Kennel cough is not only a well-known risk for dogs, but Bordetella also causes “Feline Bordetellosis” or kennel cough for cats.

    Infrequently, immunocompromised humans may contract the Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria from their infected pets.

    Let us stress that this is so irregular and probably no reason to get all up in arms. In some cases, however, humans can be susceptible to Bordetella bronchiseptica.

    Bordetella Symptoms

    Bordetella symptoms in dogs
    Symptoms of Bordetella and kennel cough are typical of upper respiratory infections. Think of your last cold; it’s usually not any more severe than that. However, if Bordetella is left untreated or worsening symptoms are ignored, things could progress into something much more detrimental like pneumonia.

    So, what are the symptoms of Bordetella in dogs? Watch out for:

    • A persistent, honking cough
    • Sneezing
    • Snorting
    • Discharge of the eyes
    • Nasal secretions
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Trachea sensitivity
    • Fever

    Bordetella Vaccine

    Many times kennel cough will run its course with minimal medicinal intervention. However, it is still beneficial and necessary to administer the Bordetella vaccine to those who may potentially be exposed to bordetella bronchiseptica.

    Animal shelters and boarding facilities are breeding grounds for Bordetella in dogs, but a pet can pick up kennel cough from another pet at a private playdate.

    Bordetella Vaccine For Dogs

    Bordetella Vaccine
    The Bordetella vaccine is recommended for any dog that will be:

    • Boarded often
    • Going to doggy daycare
    • Frequenting dog parks
    • Attending play dates with random animals
    • Frequenting animal shelters
    • Around unvaccinated pets

    Though the Bordetella vaccine is optional, it is so often needed that your vet will remind you at your annual visits.

    There are three ways the Bordetella vaccine is administered.

    1. Intranasally
    2. Oral administration
    3. Bordetella shot or injection


    This is the most common avenue for Bordetella vaccinations these days. A puppy or dog gets a few drops of liquid squirted into the nose. We won’t say they enjoy it, but it is very effective.

    The intranasal vaccine is the Bordetella vaccine used most often by shelters because of its efficacy and ease of use.

    Since the vaccine goes directly into the nose, it goes right to the source, the upper respiratory system. This way, the vaccine can offer immunity where kennel cough most often starts in the air we breathe.

    Oral administration

    The vaccine can also be delivered orally, in spray form. This option also produces protective antibodies when it touches the inside of the dog’s cheek. This option isn’t always available at local vets and is not preferred by dogs.

    Bordetella shot or injection

    The classic administration for vaccinations is also available for Bordetella. The good old syringe and needle method is effective, but no one’s favorite. Use what you know about your pet to pick the best way of administering it for you and your dog.

    Bordetella Vaccine Cost

    Bordetella Vaccine Cost
    You may not want to dole out more money for an “optional” vaccine at your dog’s annual trip to the vet, but when you think about all of the trouble you can avoid by adding the Bordetella vaccine, you might consider it money well spent.

    Kennel cough is one of the most prevalent illnesses among dogs. While it’s not completely preventable by vaccination, the vaccine will lessen the dog’s symptoms when it comes in contact with the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.

    Okay, you’re worried about finances; that’s completely understandable. Ponder this. What was the last thing you spent €100 on that protected the well-being of one of the best things in a human’s life? Okay, maybe we’re being a little dramatic, but seriously, vaccinations are worth it!

    Let’s dig into the price of a typical vet visit in the U.K. 

    It will cost about $82 for the office visit and the core vaccines. Once you’re only getting boosters annually (some every three), it’s not so bad, more like coming in at about $60 per annual visit.

    The Bordetella vaccine can vary depending on the type you choose. On average, the Bordetella vaccine will add an extra $20 – $50 to your vet visit. So we have a whopping total of $75 – $130 per yearly visit.

    The total cost to keep your pet fully vaccinated after the initial puppy series is only a few dollars more than the average person spends on eating out monthly. Even a $60 vaccine is worth it if your animal is at risk of being exposed to kennel cough.

    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; proactive is the name of the game here, and we need to be on top of it for our pet’s sake.

    Would you like more information about Bordetella and other vaccines for your dog? Check out our Bordetella vaccine guide.

    Bordetella – Who is At Risk?

    Bordetella in Dogs
    Bordetella Bronchiseptica is the leading cause of kennel cough, but as we mentioned, it isn’t the only culprit. Dogs with underlying viral infections or those that are immunocompromised can be at higher risk for contracting Bordetella than their younger counterparts.

    Just as humans do, dog’s immune systems weaken as they enter the winter of their lives.

    Kennel Cough Symptoms

    Since kennel cough is a crazy contagious upper respiratory infection, several unsavory symptoms will follow, affecting the throat and sinuses. The top noted symptoms of kennel cough are:

    • A persistent, honking cough
    • Sneezing
    • Snorting
    • Discharge of the eyes
    • Nasal secretions
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Trachea sensitivity
    • Fever

    Kennel Cough Symptoms and Treatment

    DogsA persistent, honking cough



    Discharge of the eyes

    Nasal secretions

    Difficulty breathing

    Loss of appetite


    Trachea sensitivity




    Nutrition and healthy eating



    Cough Suppressants

    Anti-inflammatory drugs

    Pain Relievers

    In more severe cases:


    Intravenous fluids


    Oxygen therapy

    CatsPersistent cough

    Watery, cloudy eyes

    Nasal secretions




    Loss of appetite



    Healthy nutrition


    Cough suppressants


    PuppiesDry Cough

    Runny eyes and nose



    Abnormal breathing patterns


    Loss of appetite

    Loss of energy



    Healthy nutrition

    Cough suppressants


    In more severe cases:


    Intravenous fluids


    Oxygen therapy

    How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Kennel Cough?

    How to tell if dog has kennel cough
    It can be tough to tell when your dog has contracted something like kennel cough. The incubation period for Bordetella bacteria can be anywhere from 2 to 14 days! It can take that long for your pup to start showing symptoms after being exposed to the bacteria.

    Kennel Cough Signs

    Kennel cough signs
    There are several signs of kennel cough, some more prominent and obvious than others. Here are the top signs of kennel cough:

    • Hacking or “honking” cough
    • Runny nose and eyes
    • Sneezing
    • Lack of energy

    Kennel Cough Sound

    Kennel cough sound

    Speaking of a hacking, “honking” cough, what does kennel cough sound like?

    We keep mentioning the “honking” cough. If you haven’t heard it, you probably don’t understand why we are comparing a dog cough to the sound a goose makes, but we will explain.

    Listen to this poor guy in the video for clarification of what we mean when we say “honking” cough.

    What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like?

    It’s called kennel cough for a reason, and this is why. The top and most prevalent sign and symptom of kennel cough is the cough!

    Most of the time, kennel cough presents itself in the form of either a:

    1. Hacking cough
    2. Honking cough

    Both of these sounds are going to seem like they come from deep in the chest. Both of these sounds could present themselves in your dog’s case of kennel cough as well.

    Let’s decipher between the two types of coughs.

    Hacking cough

    a hacking cough sounds like a dog is trying to cough something out of their windpipe, like this big guy. A dog may also cough up white foam or mucus while hacking. Of course, they can’t help it and should not be scolded.

    Honking cough

    A honking cough is the signature kennel cough sound. Honking coughs sound similar to a goose honk or like an old squeaky toy. Listen to this hound to get an idea.

    A honking cough can be indicative of other crummy conditions in dogs. A honking cough is also apparent when a dog is suffering from a tracheal collapse.

    Kennel Cough Treatment

    So your dog has kennel cough. Now, how can you treat them? Luckily the next section is on just that, kennel cough treatment for dogs, including home care options.

    Mild kennel cough symptoms will generally fix themselves with some loving care from a parent, rest, healthy nutrition, and ample hydration. However, sometimes more medicinal intervention is required for a full recovery.

    Here are the basic things you need to know about treating kennel cough.

    How to Treat Kennel Cough

    1. Rest
    2. Hydration
    3. Nutrition and healthy eating
    4. Isolation


    Whatever the species, rest and quality sleep are some of the best things anyone can do to take care of themselves.

    Adult dogs can sleep for 10-12 hours a day, while puppies can sleep 18-20 hours. That’s a completely healthy dog, so imagine how much sleep a dog who is feeling under the weather might need.

    Even though puppies are a ball of fire while awake, they require more sleep than adult dogs. Senior dogs who are slowing down in their old age may enjoy more frequent napping as well.

    What can I do to help my dog rest?

    1. Make them as comfy as possible.
    2. Keep your dog warm.
    3. Be considerate while they are recovering.

    Make them as comfy as possible.

    You probably already have a space made up for your dog. Take a few minutes to make sure everything is clean, comfortable, and snug for them. Be sure to have fresh food and water readily available, and some cuddly blankets waiting for them at all times.

    Keep your dog warm

    Bundle your fur baby up. Wrap your dog like a burrito in their favorite blanket or several. Either put a blanket on the floor, a cozy rug, or a doggy bed to keep them from lying directly on a cold floor.

    Be considerate while they are recovering.

    We like a good party as much as the next guy, but consider your ill dog when blasting your beats or jamming with your band. Think about how you feel when you’re sick and have compassion.

    If you want to play loud music or have a clogging dance-off, prepare your dog’s blissful isolation oasis and allow them to stay in there while you do your thing.

    Don’t fret; how to isolate your dog with kennel cough will be explained in the coming sections.


    After sleep, the next rule in healthy living; stay hydrated. How often has your mom, caregiver or spouse tried to convince you to drink more water? “It’s good for you”, they say.

    Well, they’re right.

    Not only does the body need water to heal itself, but not drinking enough can impede the healing process. Dehydration can also cause yucky side effects like dizziness and fatigue.

    Nutrition and Healthy Eating

    First things first, make sure your dog is eating. Illness can cause a change in hunger, but a complete loss of appetite can be a sign of something potentially more serious.

    You can always try some healthy but yummy foods if your dog is a bit more picky than usual.

    Seeking out food rich in vitamins and nutrients can be advantageous to your dog and its immune system. Treat, and snacks should stay on the side of natural and unprocessed.

    Always consult your veterinarian when changing your dog’s diet.


    Isolation is another basic, but important component of kennel cough recovery if you have other animals in the house. As you already know from previous sections, your cats can get kennel cough too!!

    How to Make a Blissful Isolation Oasis for Your Dog

    1. Pick the place
    2. Assemble the space
    3. Add a humidifier
    4. Check on them often

    Pick the place

    Pick a room or corner in your house or apartment where you can check on your dog often. This isn’t supposed to be punishment, so pick an appealing spot.

    Assemble the space

    Assemble the room to make it as cozy as possible.

    Add a humidifier

    Adding extra moisture to the air surrounding your dog suffering from kennel cough can ease throat irritation making coughing a little more bearable for the poor fellow.

    Check on them often

    Check on your fur baby often. Dog’s typically like to be with their people, Like right next to them, all the time, so this could be really weird for them.

    Please spend some time with them often, maybe camp out in your bedroom and watch tv with them. As long as you’re not immunocompromised then, the risk of you catching kennel cough is very low.

    Most Popular Treatment Options For Kennel Cough

    Treatment options for kennel cough

    1. Antibiotics
    2. Cough medicine
    3. Home Remedies

    Kennel Cough Antibiotics

    kennel cough antibiotics
    Often veterinarians will prescribe something for a dog with kennel cough. Because the most likely culprit of kennel cough is the Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria, one can often assume that an antibiotic is necessary for clearing up the infection.


    Doxycycline Canine Cough
    Doxycycline is a frequently prescribed, broad-spectrum antibiotic used to treat the kennel cough bacteria Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Doxycycline safe for most dogs and puppies unless they have an allergy to tetracyclines.

    Side effects of doxycycline:

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

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

    Clavamox (Amoxicillin & Clavulanic Acid)

    Clavamox is an antibiotic used to treat kennel cough in dogs. Clavamox is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, hence the clever name Clavamox.

    Clavamox is a synthetic, penicillin-like antibiotic, but penicillin alone will not treat Bordetella bronchiseptica. Clavulanic acid is essential in this antibiotic for kennel cough.

    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.


    Enrofloxacin is an antibiotic that can be effective in treating kennel cough. Enrofloxacin, however, is not recommended for puppies because it can have adverse effects on the joints of growing dogs.

    Enrofloxacin is available in tablet form only and works best on an empty stomach; however, if your dog experiences nausea or vomiting, give it with food on the next dose.

    Side effects of Enrofloxacin include:

    • Vomiting
    • Lack of appetite
    • Diarrhea

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

    Most antibiotics don’t go well with iron-rich foods or dairy because they can lessen or mute the antibiotic’s effects.

    Kennel Cough Medicine

    Kennel Cough Medicine
    Kennel cough medicine
    can be a valuable avenue of treatment for a dog suffering from a honking or hacking cough. Your vet may consider a cough suppressant if:

    • Your dog is having a hard time sleeping because it can’t stop coughing.
    • A dog coughing so hard they lose their breath.
    • The coughing is constant
    • The dog is experiencing syncope or faints.

    Veterinarians sometimes prescribe antitussives for kennel cough, as well as pain. Many are not used for animals except in severe situations because of their adverse reactions and side effects. 

    Antitussives suppress retching and hacking by turning off cough receptors in the brain.

    Common antitussives are:

    1. Codeine
    2. Hydrocodone
    3. Butorphanol
    4. Dextromethorphan


    Unlike some, Dextromethorphan is non-habit forming and doesn’t have the same adverse side effects as codeine, hydrocodone, and butorphanol.

    Dextromethorphan is an antitussive that veterinarians have used to suppress coughs for years. However, dog owners must pay close attention to dosing instructions.


    Guaifenesin is typically safe and effective for treating coughing in dogs. However, as usual, caution must be taken when administering doses.

    Dextromethorphan & Guaifenesin are the non-habit-forming, active ingredients in such over-the-counter medicines as Robitussin D.M.

    Though Dextromethorphan is available over the counter, be sure to consult a licensed veterinarian on guidelines to use this treatment method.

    Can I give my dog Robitussin for kennel cough?

    Yes. Robitussin D.M. can help treat kennel cough but always speak with your vet about any treatment you are considering for your dog, whether it’s over the counter or not.

    Dosage for Robitussin D.M. in dogs is about one teaspoon per 20 pounds of your canine counterpart. Please consult your veterinarian before giving any medicines to your pet. We know all you want to do is comfort and console your pet, but use extreme caution when considering a new medication.

    Kennel Cough Home Remedies

    Kennel cough symptoms and treatment need to be discussed with your vet. However, you can make several kennel cough home remedies from things you have in your cupboard or find them at your local grocer or natural food store.

    Honey for Kennel Cough

    Honey for dog cough
    Honey is one of the most beneficial and unique remedies available to the average person. Honey is a proven natural antibiotic known to kill some forms of antibiotic-resistant bacteria!

    Even the medical community raves about the benefits of honey, saying it can be an excellent alternative treatment for anything from healing wounds to cancer treatments. This remedy is sounding more and more like something to keep on hand for, well, everything, even your tea.

    Not all honey is created equal.

    Wow, honey has such amazing benefits; I’m going to the store right now to grab a bottle.

    Not so fast! While we love your enthusiasm, not all honey contains the benefits we have been mentioning. Let us explain.

    To simplify, let’s talk about what to look for in a magical home remedy honey.

    1. Organic
    2. Raw
    3. Unfiltered
    4. Pure


    Organic honey is made from the pollen of organic flowers, meaning that only organic flowers exist within two miles of the beehive. Can you imagine? Two square miles or 3.2 kilometers from the hive in every direction, organic flowers.

    Many organic kinds of honey are pasteurized and processed. Pasteurized honey is heated to destroy yeast and extend shelf life, but it also destroys many of the enzymes and other natural good stuff that gives honey its magical healing powers.


    To avoid buying honey that is pasteurized, look for honey that is organic and raw. Raw honey is never heated past a specific temperature to attain natural and incredible antioxidant properties.

    A bee farm or keeper that raises only raw honey will most times be one of compassion with a pure love of bees. Buying raw can be great for you, your family, your dog, and the bees!


    If honey is filtered, it may lose some of its magical healing benefits. Filtering honey isn’t the same as straining the bee debris. Filtration usually involves heating the honey so it can more easily flow through a fine filter. If the honey is heated over 118°F or 47°C, it begins to lose magnificent natural properties.


    Pure honey would imply you are getting 100% honey in that jar: no additives and no processes to ruin the healing properties. However, pure honey can sometimes be very sneaky, including ingredients like corn syrup and methods like pasteurization. Be sure to check the label of “pure” honey you are considering before buying.

    So, what do I want in honey?

    When shopping for honey with all of the super immune-boosting benefits, seek out one that is:

    • Raw
    • Organic
    • Not pasteurized

    Following these simple guidelines will allow you to pick honey that will be helpful for years to come.

    Coconut Oil for Kennel Cough

    Coconut oil for kennel cough
    Coconut oil has built-in antimicrobial properties that make it a soothing kennel cough home remedy. Just a dollop of coconut oil can lubricate the throat to ease coughing and soreness.

    Coconut oil is about 90% fat which may sound scary, but coconut oil is made up of mostly medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs or Medium-chain triglycerides are the “good” fats that feed the brain and offer energy. Coconut oil offers many benefits to dogs like:

    • Shiny coat
    • Soothing a cough or sore throat
    • Benefits arthritis and bone health
    • May help dry, itchy skin and skin conditions
    • Helps eliminate hairballs
    • Contains lauric acid with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

    Fat feeds the brain, so studies have been done to test MCT oils’ effects on dogs suffering from epilepsy. In one study, all of the dogs had a decrease in seizures while a few actually became seizure-free!

    Steam Therapy For Kennel Cough

    Making a sauna for your dog is one of our favorite kennel cough remedies. It’s simple, easy, and can help your pup breathe easier by easing congestion and soothing coughs. Here’s how you do it.

    1. Steam up the bathroom and
    2. Take your dog into the bathroom.
    3. Make it as comfy as possible. Add a blanket or anything comforting.
    4. Allow your pup to hang out in the DIY steam room for 10 to 30 minutes (they’ll probably want you in there with them!)


    We mentioned a humidifier in the previous section about isolating your pet. Whether you choose to isolate your pet or not, the use of a humidifier can be helpful, aiding in the moistening of the air and relieving an irritated or sore throat.

    Put a humidifier close to your dog. Next to their bed in the corner of the living room or in the room, you choose to isolate, wherever. A humidifier is advantageous and an excellent home remedy for kennel cough.

    Take the collar off!!

    If your canine best friend is suffering from a sore throat, cough, or upper respiratory issue, walking them with a collar is not helping. The main problem with collars is that dogs tend to pull on them while on the leash, causing irritation and sometimes tracheal collapse, especially in small dogs.

    We need collars for tags, but you can either loosen the collar if you want to keep it on or take it off when they’re inside. You can also put your tags on the fancy new harness you purchase for walking your baby from now on.

    How to Cure Kennel Cough

    The word “cure’ is a loaded term. Is there one all-encompassing kennel cough cure? That would be nice, but there really isn’t.

    Since kennel cough can be a combination of bacteria, and viral infections manifesting with a terrible cough and several cold symptoms, we have to target each one individually.

    Kennel cough “cures” are kennel cough treatments, but let’s narrow it down. We have created a table to illustrate which kennel cough treatment combats which symptom or culprit.

    How to Cure Kennel Cough

    Culprit or Symptom“Cure”
    Bordetella Bronchiseptica: the kennel cough bacteriaAntibiotics are necessary to kill bacteria
    Viral infectionsMost viral infections need to run their course. Symptoms can be eased with the use of kennel cough treatments
    Persistent hacking or honking coughCough suppressants can be prescribed by your veterinarian.

    Over-the-counter options are available but always consult your vet.


    Coconut oil

    CongestionSteam therapy

    Use of a humidifier

    Expectorants like Guaifenesin are found in Robitussin.

    Kennel Cough Vaccine

    What’s better than knowing all of the treatment options for your pet’s case of kennel cough? Avoiding infection altogether, of course! It’s not always possible, but vaccination is a giant step in the right direction.

    We’ve spoken of several of the treatments for kennel cough, but we’d like to remind our readers that prevention is the best way to help your dog, and the kennel cough vaccine will do just that.

    Can my dog get kennel cough even if they have the vaccine?

    Yes. As we mentioned earlier, kennel cough or canine tracheobronchitis can also be caused by viral infections or other contagious illnesses. The Bordetella vaccine only builds antibodies for the Bordetella bacteria. Therefore, your dog could still develop symptoms of kennel cough if they have the vaccine.

    However, with the vaccine, symptoms tend to be much less severe because the dog is not trying to fight off both a virus and the bacteria. Because of the Bordetella vaccine, the bacteria will already be under wraps.

    Kennel Cough Vaccine Side Effects

    Kennel cough vaccine side effects
    Similar to humans receiving the flu or CoVid vaccine, animals can experience side effects, not unlike the symptoms of the illness for which you are being vaccinated.

    A dog that gets a kennel cough vaccine may experience:

    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Runny eyes and nose
    • Soreness at the injection area

    More severe side effects are super rare and highly unlikely.

    Your dog should not get the Bordetella vaccine if they are:

    • On antibiotics
    • Already suffering from a respiratory condition
    • Has received another vaccine within the past two weeks
    • Has adverse reactions to vaccines

    Kennel Cough in Cats

    As you might guess, kennel cough in cats is a much less likely scenario because they simply aren’t as social as dogs. Cat’s don’t tend to frequent places like boarding facilities; therefore, they are less likely to be surrounded by several other animals at once.

    Since these are the environments where the kennel cough bacteria thrive, and cats inherently avoid these areas, it turns out that cats don’t get kennel cough as often as their canine counterparts.

    Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?

    Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?
    You’ve just come from the vet and the verdict is in, Fido has kennel cough. As you ride home with your coughing canine family member you wonder, can cats get kennel cough?  Is fluffy going to be at risk?

    As we mentioned earlier, kennel cough can be transferred and contracted to several animals, including cats. It is much less likely, but a sibling or housemate with kennel cough can easily transfer it to another pet living in the same space.

    Just like the rest of us, cats are more likely to acquire kennel cough if they are immunocompromised for any reason. Reasons may include but are not limited to:

    1. An underlying virus
    2. A compromised immune system due to old age
    3. A vulnerable immune system due to an underdeveloped immune system (kittens)

    An Underlying Virus

    Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacteria causing upper respiratory infections in cats. At the same time, viruses cause 90% of upper respiratory infections in cats.

    These two, are known viral culprits of kennel cough and upper respiratory infections in cats:

    1. Feline herpesvirus
    2. Feline calicivirus

    Feline Herpesvirus

    Feline herpesvirus is a common reason for upper respiratory infections like kennel cough in cats and the most likely explanation for conjunctivitis. Or, like we humans call it, “pink eye”.

    Feline herpesvirus manifests with symptoms very similar to kennel cough. A cat infected with feline herpesvirus may experience:

    • Nasal and ocular secretions
    • Conjunctivitis (the swelling of the tissue of the eyelid)
    • Blinking excessively
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing

    Feline herpesvirus is very contagious and can be spread by direct contact with saliva, nasal or ocular secretions.

    Bordetella and feline herpesvirus have so much in common it’s no wonder they team up every chance they get!

    Feline Calicivirus

    Feline calicivirus affects domestic and exotic cats alike and is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infection and respiratory disease in cats.

    A feline calicivirus infection will manifest similar symptoms and signs to those of kennel cough, with less emphasis on the cough.

    A cat suffering from calicivirus may experience:

    • Sneezing
    • Nose and eye discharge
    • Congestion
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Ulcers of gums, lips, and nose

    Feline calicivirus is extremely contagious and can be spread through:

    •  the air via sneezes and aerosol particles or
    • through direct contact of nasal, ocular secretions

    A compromised immune system due to old age

    Senior cats have a diminished immune system compared to when they were in their teenage years, making them more vulnerable to contagious diseases like kennel cough. They are no longer able to fight off the viral invasions like they once could.

    You can avoid issues by keeping your cat up to date on vet visits and vaccines, as well as avoiding shelters and places with a lot of unknown animals. What cat really likes to travel anyways?

    A vulnerable immune system due to an underdeveloped immune system (kittens)

    Puppies and kittens are more susceptible to disease and infection during the first several months of their lives. Though they do gain some immunity from their mother’s colostrum, it varies from animal to animal and is not a replacement for vaccinations.

    Since we’re talking about vaccinations so much we thought we’d offer a table of kitten vaccines to help out. 

    Kitten’s ageCore Vaccines for KittensNon-core Vaccines for Kittens
    Six weeksFeline Distemper

    Feline Herpesvirus

    Feline Calicivirus


    as early as four weeks 

    Eight weeksRabiesFeline Leukemia
    12 – 16 weeksFeline Distemper

    Feline Herpesvirus

    Feline Calicivirus

    Feline Leukemia
    1.5 years or one year after the last vaccineFeline Distemper

    Feline Herpesvirus

    Feline Calicivirus

    Feline Leukemia
    Every yearBordetella
    Every three yearsRabies

    Feline Distemper

    Feline Herpesvirus

    Feline Calicivirus

    How Do Cats Catch Kennel Cough?

    How do cats catch kennel cough?
    You may be wondering,
    in what rare cases do cats catch kennel cough?

    One likely scenario is from an animal shelter. We know that animal shelters and the like can cause animals to crowd together.

    These places run on donations and volunteers, they do what they can, but animal shelters aren’t often billowing with light and breeze from all of the windows. They work with what they have.

    Unfortunately, this is why animal shelters are perfect breeding grounds for Bordetella.

    Do cats go to parks to meet up with their cat friends and chase tennis balls? No.

    Do cats have pay dates with your best friend’s cat while you have a wine night? No, that’s not how cats typically work.

    However, at some point in a cat’s life, they may have a stay in an animal shelter, which is the most likely way a cat can catch kennel cough.

    Cats can also catch kennel cough from a canine sibling. Follow isolation guidelines to avoid cross-infection from one furry family member to another.

    Can Humans Get Kennel Cough

    Haven’t you been paying attention?! Yes, even humans can get kennel cough, but don’t worry too much—the chance of a human catching kennel cough is increasingly rare.

    Much of the information and literature about kennel cough and Bordetella Bronchiseptica doesn’t even mention the possibility of humans contracting kennel cough from their dog.

    Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Humans

    Is kennel cough contagious to humans?
    Your dog has kennel cough, and now you’re coughing too. You wonder, can humans get kennel cough?

    There is a possibility of humans contracting kennel cough, but more than likely, you’re a bit of a hypochondriac.

    The question remains, is kennel cough contagious to humans? 

    There are very few cases reported of kennel cough being transferred to humans. Honestly, if you’re a modestly healthy person and you get sick after your dog has had kennel cough, it’s probably a coincidence.

    In every case of Kennel cough being transferred from an animal to a human, the human was severely immunocompromised. So yes, kennel cough in humans is extremely rare, but humans experiencing or suffering from the following conditions will be more vulnerable to transmission :

    • HIV/AIDS
    • Cancer
    • Recent organ transplant

    If you are a severely immunocompromised person or live with someone, attention should be paid to isolation guidelines. Here are a few things you can do to handle a dog with kennel cough if you are an immunocompromised person or live with someone who is severely immunocompromised.

    • Wear a mask and gloves while handling your dog
    • Wash your hands after handling your animal with kennel cough
    • Don’t adopt or buy unvaccinated animals.
    • Isolate your pet using the guide above
    • Have someone like a spouse, partner, or friend help you take care of your pet for a week or two.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Kennel Cough In Humans?

    A human with kennel cough will show very similar symptoms to those of dogs. The symptoms of kennel cough in humans are:

    • Persistent cough
    • Sore throat
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever
    • Fatigue

    Is Kennel Cough Contagious

    At this point, you know how contagious kennel cough is to dogs, cats, AND severely immunocompromised humans. The Bordetella Bronchiseptica bacteria is no joke when it comes to spreading at a rapidly frantic pace.

    Kennel Cough Incubation Period

    Kennel cough incubation period
    The kennel cough incubation period may last anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to kennel cough. It can take that long for symptoms to appear initially.

    You, along with a bit of help from your vet, can manage kennel cough symptoms with some natural remedies and cough suppressants. If coughing persists beyond one week, you will want to consult your vet for additional medications and prescriptions.

    How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?

    How long does kennel cough last?
    Kennel cough symptoms can continue for 10-20 days and can recur when the dog is under the stress of travel or the like. Most kennel cough cases are resolved within three weeks or double that (six weeks) for the immunocompromised doggos like puppies and seniors.

    How Long is Kennel Cough Contagious

    Even after a dog is no longer showing symptoms of kennel cough, it may still be contagious to other dogs. It is customary to keep your dog out of boarding facilities, doggy daycare and away from other dogs for a week following the end of associated symptoms.

    How Long Does Kennel Cough Live on Surfaces?

    How long does kennel cough last on surfaces
    is wildly contagious, but it doesn’t typically survive in the environment for a very long time without a host.

    We have gone over how kennel cough can come from the Bordetella bacteria as well as or in addition to a virus. Therefore we need to investigate both Bordetella Bacteria and common respiratory viruses to answer the question, how long does kennel cough live on surfaces? 

    Here is a simple table to advise you on how long kennel cough lives on surfaces.

    How Long Does Kennel Cough Last On Surfaces?
    SurfaceBordetella BronchisepticaViruses
    In the air3-4 hours2-3 hours
    Non-porous surfacesUp to 48 hoursUp to 48 hours
    Soft surfacesUp to 24 hoursUp to 24 hours

    We’ve covered all of the bases in this monster of a blog on everything kennel cough, but you may still be feeling overwhelmed. 

    If you suspect your dog has kennel cough it can be stressful and you may not know where to start. We’ve made a list of steps to help guide you through this time of worry. So take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.

    Steps to Kennel Cough Recovery 

    Steps to Kennel Cough RecoveryWhat do I do?How?
    Step 1Make your pup as comfy as possible.Prepare a space with clean, warm blankets and fresh food and water.
    Step 2Note all of the symptoms and signs of kennel cough that your dog is experiencing.

    Remember, you know your dog best so note everything you notice.

    Make a list.

    Don’t be afraid to note all of the details. This will help when you ring the vet in the next step.

    Step 3Consult your veterinarianTell your vet all of the signs and symptoms you notice in your pet.
    Step 4Office visitYour vet will most likely want to schedule an office visit, despite the severity.

    Don’t worry, this is part of the territory.

    Step 5Follow treatment assigned by your vet.Your vet may prescribe you an antibiotic or even a cough suppressant to help combat annoying and painful symptoms.
    Step 6IsolateIf you have other animals you’ll want to isolate your pet from others to avoid cross-infection.

    Use the steps to make a “blissful isolation oasis” for your pup.

    Step 7Allow your pet to restGive your pup ample time to rest. If you go for scheduled walks or jogs with your dog you may choose to allow them to sit this one out.


    Phew, we made it through that giant lesson on kennel cough. Now you and your best canine pal can have peace of mind that you are armed with knowledge and awareness on everything regarding kennel cough.

    If you’re looking for further details about the topics discussed here, or you want to know more about kennel cough, check our full list of articles.

    We’ve created a huge resource with specialized information on kennel cough, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, and everything else you can find to stress out regarding kennel cough.

    Between the three of us; you, your vet, and Kennel Cough Help, we have this whole thing handled.