Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious infectious disease of the respiratory tract in dogs.

The disease is caused by two viruses and a bacterium that are spread via the air or direct contact with the nose and/or mouth of an affected dog.

What the disease does:

A combination of Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus-2 and Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterium) often cause clinical signs of Kennel Cough.

Canine Parainfluenza virus damages the upper airways and causes a dry cough and clear nasal discharge.

Canine Adenovirus-2 damages cells in the nose, throat and airways.

Bordetella bronchiseptica paralyzes the hair-like cells in the airways and prevents the immune system from reacting to the infection.


Symptoms can take 3-10 days to appear after contact with the causative agents.

The disease starts off as a sudden dry, hacking cough with retching afterwards. The dog’s appetite and lifestyle are normally not affected.

In some cases the disease can progress to a bronchitis and/or pneumonia which will cause a wet cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and lethargy.

In a household with more than one dog, there is a very good chance that all the dogs will get the disease.


A history of possible exposure to the causative agents makes the disease highly likely. A clinical exam is done to confirm the disease.


The disease is often self-limiting and does not need to be treated if the dog is still eating well and playful.

If the cough becomes excessive or wet or a loss of appetite is seen, the disease will have to be treated. A combination of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are often used.


Kennel Cough can be prevented by vaccination.

The primary vaccination consists of two vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart.

A booster vaccination is given annually.

Please note that some dogs that have been vaccinated, will still contract the disease if they are exposed to a large amount of the causative agent, but the disease will normally be mild.