Kennel Cough (What You Need to Know About Tracheobronchitis)

Kennel cough is fully and completely discussed in this article. This highly contagious dog illness can be quite serious if it is not properly treated. I focus on helping you understand how to best handle tracheobronchitis and upper respiratory problems.


tracheobronchitis, is a very contagious dog illness. It is an inflammation of the upper respiratory system. The problems are caused by viral infections such as distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, or respiratory coronavirus, and various bacterial infections. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one such bacterial infection.


"Kennel cough" gets its name since because the infection often spreads rapidly among dogs. Obviously the spread from dog to dog is worse when they are close to each other, such as when they are in a kennel or any sort of canine boarding facility.

The disease is spread when dogs cough or sneeze. This is true for both the viral instance of tracheobronchitis and the bacterial instance of tracheobronchitis.

Kennel cough can also spread through direct contact with surfaces that have contamination. And, it can be spread through direct contact, or any sort of related fluid exchange.


Because the illness is spread via contact and through the air, it is best to reduce the amount of exposure of one dog to another. This means increasing the distance between dogs but also putting barriers in place, or even using a quarantine.

It's critical to completely eliminate direct contact. In your own home, it definitely makes sense to use a quarantine, just as you'd need to do in a kennel.

Unfortunately, kennel cough symptoms usually appear 4-5 days after exposure so the spread can occur before any precautions are taken. This is one reason to keep a canine environment clean, neat and sanitary at all times. Getting "sloppy" can do great harm, or even kill your dog.


The illness itself can range from mild to extremely dangerous. The big worry is that it can turn into pneumonia. And again, this is why contact and exposure must be limited since canine pneumonia is extremely dangerous.

Please note that if your dog becomes infected at the vet, at a kennel or at a boarding facility, you should consider contacting the animal welfare officer in your local area. This is to help isolate tracheobronchitis to other puppies and old dogs. They are the most vulnerable, as with any disease or illness.


The symptoms of the illness include harsh coughing and dry hacking, vomiting from excessive snorting, sneezing, gaging or coughing, and related respiration issues. Slight pressure to the trachea can set off an episode, as can exercise or high excitement.

As stated previously, the symptoms will usually first appear 4-5 days. The disease can last from 8 to 21 days. It can go away and come back, which can put extra stress on your dog.

You can often figure out where the illness came from by doing a little research about the environment your dog is in, including shared toys, shared pens, unclean environments, direct exposure to other suffering dogs, and so forth.


Antibiotics are given is the illness was caused by bacteria, although it isn't always easy to know if the the cause was bacteria or a virus. Sometimes, cough medicines are given to assist the dog in coughing up.

Preventing is actually quite simple, although it doesn't 100% work for a variety of reasons. A vaccination for adenovirus, distemper, canine parainfluenza, and Bordetella should be given.

In kennels, the best prevention is keeping all dog cages and all other cages fully and completely disinfected. In fact, most dog kennels will refuse to board dogs without proof of proper vaccination.


The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your veterinarian or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

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