Kennel Cough

Does your dog have kennel cough? No need to panic, dogs get sick too!

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a common respiratory illness found in dogs. The most notable symptom is a high-pitched hooting cough that may sound like gagging, choking, or a goose honk. Similar to a cold in people, kennel cough can cause your dog to feel run down for 3-14 days but is not generally a serious issue. Just as with human colds, it can lead to secondary infection (which is generally highly treatable) but usually goes away on its own after 1-2 weeks.


  • Chronic high-pitched hooting cough
  • Choking or gagging sounds
  • Slight fever
  • Lack of appetite and energy
  • Eye or nasal discharge


It can have many different causes such as a bacteria or virus. The most common cause is the bacteria Bordatella. Bordatella can spread even in clean facilities. Much like a cold, it is a common illness dogs are at risk of contracting at any time.


Most dogs are able to recover from kennel cough on their own, however some may need a course of antibiotics prescribed from a veterinarian, especially if the dog is very young, old, or immune deficient. The majority of dogs will show no signs of illness besides the cough itself. Most dogs will experience at least one case of kennel cough during their lives.


The illness is spread predominantly through airborne droplets when an infected dog sneezes or coughs. It can also spread from direct contact with an infected individual or object. Kennel cough does not spread to normal, healthy people, however it can effect the elderly, newborns, or those with immune deficiencies. 

What to do:

If your dog has symptoms of kennel cough, be sure to allow them plenty of rest and keep them hydrated. Most dogs are able to fight the infection off on their own with plenty of water and rest.

 If your dog’s cough is particularly painful, you can mix 1 tablespoon of honey with a little warm water in a bowl and offer it to them up to three times a day to help soothe their throat and minimize coughing.

 Keep your dog away from any other pets living in the household such as other dogs and cats. Kennel cough is contagious to other dogs and cats.

Do NOT visit any public places with your dog such as dog parks, shared yards, pet stores, grooming or boarding facilities, etc. until they are feeling better.

Disinfect bedding, toys, food/water bowls, or other surfaces the dog is in frequent contact with. We recommend KennelSol as a pet friendly product for safely disinfecting surfaces.

Always wash your hands with warm soapy water after handling a sick animal. If you are concerned about your pet’s symptoms, call your vet.


There is no way to 100% prevent dogs from contracting kennel cough. Like a human cold, kennel cough can be contracted and spread anywhere dogs gather such as dog parks, veterinary offices, boarding facilities, etc..

A vaccine exists for bordatella, and is required to have any dog stay with us, however, it is not guaranteed to eliminate the illness. No vaccine is 100% effective. Some vaccines are better than others, and some animals respond better to vaccines than others.

Vaccination and cleanliness are the best defense against kennel cough, however, even vaccinated dogs and clean facilities can experience the illness.

We require all our clients to remain current on their dog’s vaccinations as well as to see a vet twice a year to decrease the chance of dogs contracting illnesses at our facility.

We also have a rigorous cleaning schedule twice daily in our facilities.

Reach out to your vet for more information or if your dog’s symptoms worsen.


Can my dog make me or my family sick?

No. Bordetella and canine viruses don’t spread to normal, healthy people. However, the elderly and other immune compromised individuals should stay away from the dog until it is healthy.

Is my dog choking?

No. The choking sound dogs with kennel cough make can sound very peculiar; however, it is only a cough and not a huge cause for concern.

Should my dog see a vet?

Seeing a vet is up to the owner’s individual discretion. Most dogs will recover on their own without veterinary intervention, however, if you feel your dog requires medical attention it is up to you.