Kennel Cough

Most of us pet parents (dog owners) have heard about the dreaded “kennel cough”. At first, it may seem that your dog is having difficulty breathing or maybe swallowed a foreign object. Then when you put the leash on and the slightest pressure is applied, that hacking cough might exacerbate the problem, causing you to think your dog might have a sore throat. Some might think the worst and rush their dog to their trusty veterinarian thinking after a persistent cough it’s a tracheal collapse. If your dog is active around other dogs or goes on lots of adventures to parks, outdoor malls, or car rides to visit with friends and their dogs, it’s most likely a harmless virus.

When your dog has any type of health issue it’s so scary, especially when you think your buddy is in some sort of danger. Send your dog for a boarding stay or a day of play or training, and there is always the possibility that your dog could catch a cold, a germ of some sort or even yes – “kennel cough!” If you go the grocery store, you could catch the flu. When you send your child off to camp, they could come home with a head cold from their camper buddy.  As a matter of fact, dogs and humans can actually share not only affection (in addition to reducing each others’ blood pressure) but they can also share germsDon’t worry, it builds a stronger immune system!

Sometimes a sick dog is a good faker! Be sure to watch for symptoms to see if your dog has kennel cough.

When your dog isn’t feeling good watch for the symptoms so you know when a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.











This is life. We can get sick. Does that mean we don’t go to the grocery store because it’s germy? Should your kids just forget about camp this year? Does this mean the dog care center you have chosen is dirty? I doubt it. I think you would have noticed when you originally toured and decided on the best care option for your pet that it wasn’t sanitary – if that were the case.

Disinfect. Repeat. Repeat again. 

As long as your dog’s care center has policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and health of your pet, there is not much more that can be done. If you are at all in doubt, be sure to ask what methods are being used. Keep in mind that the more regular exposure your dog has to other dogs, the stronger their immunity will become to most airborne illness, such as kennel cough.

Kennel Cough and the Bordetella Vaccination

Health records should be checked, verified, and updated regularly by the administration office at your dog’s care center. Keep in mind, the required inoculations really only protect against certain strains of viruses, just as with human vaccinations. For example, the bordetella vaccine is to protect dogs from acute tracheobronchitis (also known as *gasp”,  KENNEL COUGH!).

However, it only reduces the severity of the contracted cough if it’s caught. The vaccine is absolutely no guarantee that your pet will not catch the nasty bug. Keep in mind, this very annoying (to your pet), hacking cough is typically not serious if caught early on. Also, be sure to ask what the procedure is when “kids” are called in sick. At Wag ‘N’ Tails we have a two dog policy rule. If two pet parents call with dogs having the same symptoms we send out parent notices. Notes are taken off display from the front entry doors and the front counter after a 14 day period of no other callers. We honestly have such a great system in place, we rarely have issues with contagions at our school outside of the norm.

Whoever Named the Virus Kennel Cough and Why?

Why isn’t it called “Dog Park Cough?” or “Sniffed-the-fire-hydrant-with-the-neighborhood-dogs cough?” When pet parents hear “Kennel Cough” they can’t help but think their dog’s upper respiratory infection came from a kennel.  Remember, tracheobronchitis comes from anywhere dogs are in close contact with other dogs. The reason it’s called kennel cough is because it’s HIGHLY contagious and can quickly spread through a kennel. At home, a pet parent loves up their pup, gives them antibiotics and they baby their “baby”. What can be done at a kennel? Sometimes they have to shut down if there are enough cases. 

“Kennel cough is VERY contagious. It is named kennel cough because it can quickly spread through a kennel and infect every dog.” Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM

Can Anything be Done to Prevent Kennel Cough?

Not really much can be done to prevent kennel cough. Well, there is one VERY important thing you can do. No one knows your dog like you do! Watch for the symptoms at home so that you aren’t bringing a sick “kid” to school. Children might moan, groan or whine perhaps to alert or alarm a parent or teacher, but not dogs, no way! Most dogs are just too tough! It takes a lot for a dog to give in and admit that they have to slow down. Many dogs, depending on their age and temperament, of course, can withstand quite a bit of activity,  even if they are a bit under the weather. Be sure to make yourself aware.

A few of the symptoms aren’t really obvious but indeed could be clear signs to watch for. Dogs don’t talk – not with words. So that means we, as humans owe it to our dogs to be good (and most times, better) listeners! Be sure to call the school to report the illness and most likely you will able to continue socialization and training programs for your dog. If your dog could talk he would thank you!

Do you find it difficult to diagnose when your dog is sick as a dog? If so, leave a comment below and we will reply!

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.

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