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Kennel Cough: Protecting Your Pooch

“Hack! Hack! Ah-choo!”

Oh no, those dreaded sounds. Your dog is coughing, sneezing, and snot is running from his nose. He doesn’t want to play ball and he just lays in bed. Could this be kennel cough?

In short, yes. “Kennel cough” is our everyday description of any upper respiratory infection in the dog, but there are many possible bacteria or viruses that can be the actual culprit. Sometimes, kennel cough is a combination of multiple different infections at the same time.


As the common cold is caught from other humans, kennel cough is caught from other dogs. This can be through direct, nose-to-nose contact or through the air by sneezing and coughing.

Also, if you have been in the same environment as a sick dog, then you could carry that sickness home to your own dog on your hands, shoes, or clothing.


Annual vaccinations offer protection against kennel cough, but not all viruses and bacteria are stopped by vaccines. This means that your dog may still get kennel cough, even if vaccinations are up-to-date.

Dense populations of dogs, such as boarding facilities, the groomers, and the dog park increase risk of infection, but avoiding these situations is not always possible. Socialization is an important part of being a dog, and the benefits of interacting with other dogs usually outweigh the risks.


Generally, kennel cough is self-limiting, and dogs get better with time. Treatment is based on severity. For very mild cases, rest is enough, and dogs usually get better within a week or two.

For very young dogs, and more severe cases where dogs have low energy or are not eating, antibiotics may be used.

Uncommonly, kennel cough can spread to the lungs, which is called pneumonia. Pneumonia can be deadly, and requires more intensive treatment and monitoring than kennel cough.

Get An Expert Opinion!

If your dog is coughing or sneezing, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. There are other possible causes of these symptoms, so your dog may have something more serious than kennel cough. Early diagnosis and treatment increase chances of a full recovery.

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