Outbreaks of Kennel Cough

There has recently been a spike in the number of Kennel Cough cases locally.

The name kennel cough is confusing as it would suggest that dogs get it in kennels. Whereas it is actually because it is aerosol spread. So your dog is more likely to get it by coming into contact with an infected dog on a walk, without even realising it.

It is caused by a mixture of viruses and bacteria and causes a nasty dry hacking cough in dogs. In the majority of cases the cough is self limiting, but some dogs will be quite poorly with a high temperature, reduced appetite and occasionally will go and develop a pneumonia.

The infection is spread when an infected dog coughs and splutters on another, or perhaps on bowls/bedding/gateposts etc. It is therefore more common in areas where a lot of dogs gather such as kennels/dog shows or doggy day care.

Dogs with symptoms are potentially infectious for up to three weeks after the last cough. So it is therefore important to keep infected dogs away from other dogs, while displaying symptoms, but also for a period after the signs disappear.


In most dogs the infection will be self limiting and may require no treatment. However if your dog has been coughing for a few days or is off colour then he/she should be seen by a vet. You may be asked to wait outside as your dog is probably infectious.

Those self limiting cases will not require any treatment and your dog will recover within a few weeks, or sooner. If your dog has persistent signs then your vet may prescribe some anti inflammatories to try and settle the cough and make your dog more comfortable.

In severe cases antibiotics may be indicated.

Rest is a good idea and sometimes a steamy bathroom helps alleviate the signs.

It is essential to keep you dog away from other dogs as kennel cough is highly contagious.


Vaccination is the best way to prevent kennel cough and this is especially a good idea if your dog mixes wirh a lot of other dogs or walks where there are a lot of other dogs.

The vaccine does not give 100% protection, like any other vaccine, but it does significantly reduce the risk of your dog getting kennel cough and should also reduce the severity of the symptoms if your dog does get it.

Many kennels or day care services may also insist on a kennel cough vaccine.

The vaccine lasts a year and is either given intranasally (up the nose) or under the tongue. We would recommend that recently vaccinated dogs to stay away from humans that are immunocompromised because of the small risk of passing on an infection.

Why not ask us about advice on vaccinating your dog or adding it into your normal vaccination programme?

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