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Yellow Labrador Retriever Kennel Cough

One dog with kennel cough can quickly lead to every dog in your kennel contracting the illness. Find out below what you can do to prevent an outbreak in your kennel or home.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious upper-respiratory infection seen in dogs of all ages. Kennel cough is a general term used for the infection that can be caused by canine adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus, or Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. Although kennel cough is seen in dogs of all ages, it is most severe in puppies less than 6 months old and in immune-compromised dogs.


Dogs that are affected by kennel cough usually have a quick onset of clinical signs, the most common being a cough which gets worse with exercise, excitement, and/or pressing on the neck region. Most dogs that become ill with kennel cough will get better without any medical treatment in 10-to-14 days, although some develop a more severe form and need medical attention. Some signs that your dog may be developing a more severe case or have something more concerning, such as canine influenza, are: fever, colored nasal discharge, lethargy, lack of appetite, and increased effort when breathing. If you believe that your dog has contracted kennel cough, it is best to consult with your veterinarian, as some cases require medication.


Dogs come in contact with kennel cough from being in crowded conditions, such as boarding kennels, training facilities, and dog shows. If a dog is exposed to kennel cough, he usually begins to show signs in three-to-seven days. Kennel cough is primarily seen during the spring and summer, but can occur at any time when a large group of dogs are together.

dogs in kennel


If you have a dog that becomes ill, it is best to isolate that infected dog until at least two weeks after the last cough. Once kennel cough has come into a kennel, it is best to clear out the kennel for one-to-two weeks and clean with common disinfectants (such as bleach). It is important to remember that the disease can be spread by contact with objects that the infected dog has been around, such as food/water dishes, crates, bedding, and clothing.

To help prevent your dog from becoming infected with kennel cough, there are several precautions that can be taken. After coming home from shows, you should disinfect crates, bedding, and bowls. During shows, dogs should not be allowed to have nose-to-nose contact with other dogs or be allowed to drink from common water sources. Handlers should wash their hands between touching one dog and another. For dogs that are at high risk for the disease, there is a vaccine that they may benefit from receiving. The vaccine will not prevent the disease, but will lessen the symptoms and duration of the disease. It can also decrease the amount of time that the sick dog can shed the disease.

There is no need to fear the disease if the right precautions are taken, and you take steps to quickly isolate and care properly for sick dogs.