Cough and Cold Season

By Jessica Freni

Cold and flu season is fast approaching, our dogs are unfortunately no exception to a variety of similar issues including kennel cough and respiratory infections. High density dog areas, like shows, can be a contributing risk in spreading and acquiring diseases. So how can you prepare your dogs for issues like kennel cough?

First and foremost, be cautious and prepared, always keep sick dogs home. Avoid taking out dogs that are displaying symptoms or have been exposed to sick dogs (incubation period for kennel cough is 2-14 days), especially exercise caution with pregnant bitches, puppies and seniors. In high traffic dog areas, minimize sharing of communal items, like water bowls or public kennel runs.

“Kennel cough is highly contagious between dogs. The disease is spread primarily through respiratory droplets (from coughing, sneezing, etc.), but may also spread via direct contact or through sharing objects such as water bowls or toys.” (

Clean and sterilize items after training/ shows, particularly if you observe any dogs coughing or sneezing. If your dog requires vet care for symptoms of kennel cough or respiratory infections it’s a good idea to notify the vet staff and try to avoid exposing other dogs in common areas (with a recent surge in very contagious strands of these illnesses some vet offices are electing to see dogs who have been coughing curbside).

You may elect to vaccinate your dogs with the kennel cough vaccine (Bordetella vaccine). Bordetella is most commonly given either by vaccine or intranasal. Vaccinated dogs can still get kennel cough (though often with more mild symptoms) and the Bordetella vaccine does require boosters for effectiveness.

“While Bordetella is the most common cause of kennel cough in dogs, it is not the only one. Other bacteria and viruses, including the parainfluenza virus, can also cause kennel cough, which means that even vaccinated dogs can get kennel cough from another source.” ( )

Signs of Kennel cough typically include coughing (either a distinctive “honking” cough or a sound like choking or something caught in the throat) and nasal discharge, but may also include other symptoms such as lethargy, decreased appetite, low fever. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough you should see your vet who may prescribe an antibiotic and or medications to ease symptoms like the coughing or mucus (such as a cough suppressant or expectorant)].

At home you can support your dog’s recovery with humidifiers, bring them in the bathroom near steam from a hot shower, rest, hydration (bone broth is a great aid in these situations), limit strenuous activities or excitement, use harnesses instead of collars that would put pressure on the throat. In addition to vet care your dog can benefit from things like honey, turmeric, bone broth, foods with anti-inflammatory and or immune boosting (ginger, blueberries, etc). Probiotics can be beneficial for dogs prescribed antibiotics like doxycycline which can be hard on the GI.

So remember:

Always err on the side of caution,  leave sick dogs home (or those who have been exposed to sick dogs)
Thoroughly clean and sanitize equipment after shows/trials/training (ex. OdoBan Professional Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator Concentrate, 1 Gallon, Lavender Scent )
Seek vet care for dogs displaying symptoms
Limit high risk areas/ activities like sharing bowls or use of public kennel runs
Incubation period is 2-14 days
Most kennel cough will resolve in 1-3 weeks
Veterinarian doctor and a labrador puppy at vet ambulance