Kennel cough, every dog owners worst fear. We have all heard the horror stories of boarding facilities and dog shows having huge outbreaks of this disease. But do we really know what it is? Kennel cough or Infectious tracheobronchitis is a disease that can have multiple agents behind it. The most common agents are para-influenza virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and mycoplasma. 


Dry hacking cough, sometimes described as “honking sound”
Often times followed by retching
May have watery nasal discharge
In mild cases the animal will still willingly eat and drink and be happy and alert
More severe cases can be accompanied by lack of appetite, fever, and pneumonia


A diagnosis is based on presenting symptoms as well as a history of recent exposures
Bacterial cultures, viral isolations, and blood tests can be done though due to the characteristic nature of the symptoms these are rarely done.


Antibiotics may or may not be administered depending on the severity of the case. In addition to antibiotics, a broncho-dilator or cough suppressant may be administered as well. 


Here at MVH we recommend dogs annually get vaccinated with Bordetella and DHLPP vaccines.  These vaccines help the dog build immunity a variety of pathogens that can cause respiratory harm (see blog on vaccines). Dogs who have been vaccinated and come in contact with another contaminated dog are less likely to become severely infected. They may show coughing symptoms for a few days and then return to normal. 

If your dog does become infected and diagnosed with a “Kennel Cough” pathogen it is best to keep him isolated and quiet. Dr. Moylan recommends, “house arrest” away from other dogs, and exciting stimuli. This is to let the affected area rest and recover while the viral component is exiting the dogs system. It is also advised to use a harness rather than a collar during this time so as not to injure the dogs trachea.