Kennel Cough treatment

Kennel Cough treatment
April 2, 2018

Kennel Cough

The infectious tracheobronchitis (Kennel cough) is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized with inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It can affect the entire respiratory system and develop into pneumonia. It's called "kennel cough" because it runs with dry, sharp, drowning and prolonged cough.

Causes for infectious tracheobronchitis

Causing the infection can be many viruses and bacteria, but the most frequent participants in the etiopathogenesis of the disease are Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine virus parainfluetsa (CPi). Other causes are canine adenovirus type 1 and 2, Mycoplasma sp., Reovirus, and canine herpes virus.
Since typical clinical cases most frequently isolated Bordetella bronchiseptica, the incubation period in her continuing 3-4 days, the clinical picture takes about 10 days if there is no involvement of other microorganisms. The transmission of the bacterium into the environment continues 6-14 weeks after recovery and makes contamination of other susceptible animals possible during this time.
The virus of canine parainfluenza (CPi) may be part of the syndrome "kennel cough" and is the second most common pathogen after Bordetella bronchiseptica. Itself the virus usually causes a relatively mild sickness with ongoing cough that sometimes occurs after tracheal palpation, and in some cases a clear watery discharge from the nose can be observed.
Often Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza (CPi) appear together during epidemics of infectious tracheobronchitis, thus creating a more severe disease that can last for several weeks.


"Kennel cough" is an airborne infection. The main route of the disease is by inhaling infected droplets in the air when sharing food containers. Clothes of farmers and workers in hotels and dog shelters can also help transfer the infection. Poor ventilation in homes, veterinary clinics and dog hotels and shelters can contribute to the transfer of the causes of this disease. Short-term contact with dogs releasing pathogens in parks or on the street during the summer months are sufficient for the transmission of this highly contagious disease.

Clinical signs

Sharp, dry, hacking cough, nausea, sneezing, or puffing. These symptoms can be triggered in response to a slight compression of the trachea after an emotional excitement or exercise. Dog owners describe the cough to sound similar to the cry of the wild goose, and lifting and nausea are often confused by them with a bone stuck in the throat. In mild cases, dogs continue to eat, remain vital and active. Sometimes, in very severe cases, the symptoms may progress and include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, pneumonia and, in severe cases even death. These cases usually develop in immunocompromised animals or in very young unvaccinated puppies.


The diagnosis is based on typical clinical signs and history that reveals prior contact with other dogs or dog staying in a hotel or shelter. Some veterinarians can carry out inoculating a bacterial culture, virus isolation and serology to confirm the involvement of the different causes of the disease, but because of the characteristic manifestation of clinical signs is not applied very often.


Usually antibiotics are the best way to treat bacterial infections. However, in light (uncomplicated) forms of the disease, antibiotics are not necessary. Treating mild cases shortens the time during which the animal will be potential vectors of the disease. In moderate and severe cases can be applied corticosteroids to help reduce the cough and feel the dog more comfortable.
In severe and complicated cases where animals do not eat, they have a fever or show signs of pneumonia, antibiotics are a must. In these cases, steroids and drugs and cough suppressants are not recommended because of the risk of immunosuppression.

Vaccination and prevention

Vaccination is the best prevention against canine cough. Intranasal vaccine stimulates local immunity, which significantly reduces the occurrence of severe clinical signs, as well as prevents the spread of the infection. This immunity is not affected by maternal antibodies puppies received with colostrum.
In dog hotels and shelters where infectious tracheobronchitis is a problem, strict hygiene with thorough cleaning and disinfection of cages, food and water is of great importance. Dog hotels and shelters that are indoors should have very good ventilation. Most dog hotels and shelters do not accept dogs without proven vaccination and this must become a rule worldwide.

Risk for human

Until recently it was thought that there is no risk to human health. However, a research has shown that Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause sickness in some people, particularly those with impaired immune systems. Healthy adults do not seem to have risk, but young children and immunocompromised individuals should take precautions and not to come into contact with animals showing symptoms of tracheobronchitis.