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What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Kennel cough in dogs is a very common subject these days, but what exactly does it mean? Kennel cough is actually similar to the human cold, in the fact that it is highly contagious and can be caught by contact from other dogs. It is also similar to the human flu in that it is caused when your dog’s immune system is assaulted by a combination of bacteria and viruses at the same time.

Vets more accurately refer to kennel cough as ‘canine cough syndrome’, which can be caused by infections, anatomical irregularities, or environmental irritants.

Environmental Irritants

Since the bacteria that causes kennel cough is airborne, it can be assumed that closed environments with several dogs can up the chances of your dog catching the cough. However, there are also many other environmental irritants, which could trigger a cough in your dog including:

  • Allergies
  • Fertilizers
  • Reactions to certain substances
  • Stress
  • Unsanitary environment

Although kennel cough is generally not a life-threatening disease, and is easily treatable with medication, it’s important to bring your dog in to a vet if the cough is still present after 2 days. A proper assessment needs to be done on your dog, as canine cough is not a single disease process.


While there are several different types of infection that can be contracted by your dog and lead to respiratory problems, there are three main strains to look out for. The most common infections that lead to canine cough are:

Bordetella Broncheseptica – This is a small bacterium, which can cause infectious bronchitis in dogs, and other small animals. It has a different effect depending on which animal it contracts it. In dogs, it generally results in a severe cough.

Canine Adenovirus – This is a DNA virus, which can cause serious respiratory diseases. In dogs, it is known to cause hepatitis and canine cough (kennel cough).

Canine Influenza – A respiratory infection in dogs. Canine influenza is caused by a virus and is extremely contagious, which means your dog has a much greater chance of contracting this if he/she frequents dog parks and boarding kennels often. This infection can have both mild and severe effects on your dog; therefore it is important to bring them to see the vet for a proper diagnosis as soon you notice any irregular behavior in your dog.

Anatomical Irregularities

These are abnormalities relating to the bodily structure of your dog. The main irregularities that can contribute to kennel cough include:

Collapsing Trachea – The main reasons the trachea of your dog can collapse are due to its cartilaginous rings not growing properly, or becoming weakened. With a collapsed trachea, your dog will have problems breathing correctly, especially when exercising or becoming excited. This is because the tracheal rings cannot fully hold the trachea open and allow air to pass through.

Tracheal Stenosis – This is an irregular narrowing or contraction of your dog’s trachea. The trachea is literally your dog’s windpipe, and so if it is too narrow to function correctly, your dog will have problems breathing properly.

You can learn more about kennel cough causes, treatment options and natural remedies at

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