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  • Writer's pictureDr Mike Groombridge MRCVS

Medical spotlight: Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)

I have seen several cases of kennel cough in dogs recently. This is a very contagious disease which spreads easily through direct contact or even just sniffing in an area where an infected dog has been coughing and sneezing.

Kennel cough is actually a term for several different bacteria and viruses which cause similar clinical signs. The most common of these are the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the viruses Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV) and Canine Adenovirus 2 (CAV2).

Clinical signs

As the name suggests, Kennel Cough usually presents with a characteristic honking cough. Episodes of coughing can results in retching and bringing up frothy vomit. There may also be other signs of an upper respiratory infection such as watery eyes and nose.


Kennel cough usually clears up by itself if 2-3 weeks. Sometimes anti-inflammatories will be prescribed to help bring a temperature down and to help with the inflamed airways.

Anti-biotics are not usually used to treat kennel cough but they can be used on occasion as they effective if there is bacterial rather and viral infection.


There is a vaccine for kennel cough that covers some of the more common pathogens. The vaccine is sprayed up the nose to give local immunity (rather than injected under the skin as with most other vaccines).

Immunity from having caught kennel cough before, or from the vaccination, lasts only a limited time, and does not always give 100% protection due to the many pathogens that can cause kennel cough.

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