How to Prevent Kennel Cough


Protecting your dog against catching kennel cough is important.  It is very contagious, and just being near an infected dog can put your dog at risk.  The risk of infection can be especially great if you’re boarding your dog while away on vacation (hence the reason this disease is called kennel cough).  Whether you have an upcoming vacation or just want to be prepared to keep your dog healthy at home, continue reading to learn how to prevent kennel cough.  I’ll also share some general information about what kennel cough is and how it is spread. This will help you learn more about keeping your dog healthy.

Table of Contents

What is kennel cough?

When your dog is sick or injured, whether with kennel cough, parvo, or an elbow callus infection, you want to know what you can do to help. 

Before we start looking at what you can do to treat or prevent kennel cough, though, it is important to understand exactly what it is.  

Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a type of respiratory disease in dogs.  It is most commonly transmitted in areas where there are a large number of dogs together. Some examples include boarding facilities, dog shows, dog parks, or doggy daycares.  This is why the disease has earned the name “kennel cough”.  

In most cases, kennel cough shouldn’t have any severe or long-term side effects for a dog. However, every pup is different. 

Kennel cough can be particularly dangerous for dogs that are under six months old. Additionally, any dogs that have a compromised immune system can be at greater risk for severe symptoms. 

Knowing how to treat and prevent kennel cough is important for the overall health of your dog, but also other dogs that they could potentially infect.

How does kennel cough spread?

As I mentioned above, kennel cough is most often transmitted between dogs who are in a group with a lot of other dogs, such as in a boarding facility. 

However, dogs can also transmit in other ways. 

Healthy dogs can become infected by coming into contact with an infected dog or surfaces that an infected dog has touched. Or even through particles in the air.  

Those particles in the air can be very infectious, in fact.  In some cases, one infected dog in the neighborhood could make others sick without even getting close to the other dogs.  The droplets in the air may travel numerous feet or linger in the air before another dog passes by. 

So, if you’re asking how did my dog get kennel cough at home, it could have been from taking a walk in the same general area where an infected dog was.

Kennel cough is contagious for up to a week after the symptoms are gone.  So, even if another dog isn’t necessarily displaying any symptoms, they could still be sick enough to pass the disease to your pup.

how does kennel cough spread

Kennel Cough Symptoms

If your dog has kennel cough, there are a few different symptoms you may notice. 

These include:

  • Coughing (often with a loud hacking sound; may sound like a goose honking)
  • Sneezing
  • Snorting
  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Do I need to take my dog to the vet for kennel cough?  If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, it is best to consult a veterinarian for their recommended treatments to help your dog remain comfortable. 

However, in many cases, the symptoms should ease up on their own after a few days or a week.

When should I worry about kennel cough?  If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms above and they seem to get worse, rather than better, it is an indication that you should contact the vet.  Dogs with a fever or dogs that are overly lethargic or disinterested in eating should also see a vet. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, it can indicate that there is a larger medical problem that needs to be addressed.  For example, older dogs or those who have not received the kennel cough vaccine may develop pneumonia if their symptoms go untreated.

How can I soothe my dogs cough?

How long does it take for kennel cough to go away?

Will kennel cough go away on its own?  In most cases, kennel cough will clear up on its own.  However, some dogs may get a more severe case of kennel cough or need additional treatments. 

It is advisable to contact your dog’s veterinarian if you think they have kennel cough.  They can recommend treatments that will help your dog stay more comfortable and keep the symptoms from worsening.

How long does it take for kennel cough to go away on its own?  If you decide not to treat your dog’s kennel cough, you should expect the disease to last at least 10 days, if not longer.

Isolating with Kennel Cough

How to prevent kennel cough from spreading?  If your dog has kennel cough, you need to take steps to prevent them from infecting other dogs.  The best way you can do this is to keep them away from other animals.  

Many people wonder, for kennel cough, how long to isolate your pet?  Remember, kennel cough can be contagious for about a week after the symptoms have disappeared.  For this reason, you should continue to keep your dog in isolation until they have been symptom-free for at least a week.

isolated dog

Kennel Cough Treatments

If your dog has kennel cough, you may be searching for “what is the fastest way to cure kennel cough?”  There are a few things you can do to treat the illness and help them recover. 

These include:

  • Making sure your dog gets sufficient rest:  When your dog is recovering from kennel cough, it is important to make sure they get sufficient rest.  They should not be up and running about or going on long walks.  Just as you need more rest when you are sick, the same is true for your pup.  Try to encourage them to take it easy and rest, and discourage them from running or playing.
  • Using a harness instead of a leash:  When you do need to take your dog out for a walk, be sure to use a harness instead of a collar.  The collar can pull on their neck and throat, making it even more uncomfortable for the dog.
  • Cough suppressant:  A cough suppressant, which would need to be prescribed by your dog’s vet, can help make your dog more comfortable as they’re recovering from kennel cough.  Cough suppressants work by blocking the cough reflux, which will help ease that dry and hacking cough your dog is dealing with.
  • Antibiotics:  What kills kennel cough?  Your dog’s vet may decide to prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bordetella bacteria responsible for your dog’s cough.
  • Raw honey:  How can I soothe my dogs cough?  Try raw honey.  Not only will the honey’s thick texture feel good on your dog’s throat, but honey also offers antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties, so it may even help them heal a bit faster. Only give honey to adult dogs older than a year.

Preventing Kennel Cough

What can I give my dog to help prevent kennel cough is a common question about dog owners. 

The most important thing you can do to keep your dog from getting sick or dangerously sick with kennel cough is to vaccinate them.  Dogs should receive the bordetella vaccine each year to keep their protection up to date.  

In addition to vaccinating your dog, there are a few other things you can do to help minimize the risk of them getting kennel cough:

  • Choose reputable boarders/doggy daycares that keep their cages clean and disinfected.
  • Look for facilities that require all dogs to be vaccinated before staying for care.
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with other dogs to avoid spreading the illness to your pup.
  • Keep your dog healthy by giving them proper exercise and nutrition.  If they do get sick, they’ll be less likely to have a severe reaction.
how to prevent kennel cough from spreading

Kennel Cough: Preventable!

Kennel cough is highly contagious.  Vaccinating your dog is important to protect them from catching or spreading kennel cough.  With proper treatment and early action, kennel cough shouldn’t pose a serious or long-lasting health concern for your pup.  I hope you’ve found the information and answers about kennel cough that you’ve been searching for.  Take good care of that special pup! 


What is the incubation period for kennel cough?

The incubation period for kennel cough can be between two days and two weeks.  If you know your dog has been exposed to kennel cough, monitor them for symptoms, specifically a very dry cough that sounds like they are hacking.  Your dog may also run a fever, have discharge coming out of their nose, act more tired than normal, or show a decreased appetite.

Can humans catch kennel cough?

In most cases, you won’t catch kennel cough from your dog.  Healthy adults are unlikely to catch kennel cough from a dog. 
However, adults that have an underlying condition or weakened immune system could potentially contract kennel cough from their dog.
When a human gets kennel cough, it can lead to upper respiratory infections or pneumonia.  If you are concerned that you caught kennel cough from your dog, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.