Kennel Cough (also known as Canine Cough)

Kennel Cough is an infection of the trachea and bronchi in dogs caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria.  To most people, the cough sounds like “something is stuck” in their dog’s throat as the cough is constant and irritated.   

The name “kennel cough” comes from the most common presentation when a vet sees a coughing dog after visiting a boarding kennel. However, dogs can become infected by mixing with other dogs in any situation when close contact (within 2 meters) occurs.  Infection may also occur via contaminated surfaces or objects such as food bowls, balls or toys.  The main causative agents are Parainfluenza Virus and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.  

Yorkshire Watercolour Tuggeranong Vet Hospital


Your vet may diagnose uncomplicated Kennel Cough just with a physical examination particularly if there is a history of recent exposure.  If your dog is unwell, off food or lethargic a chest xray may be recommended to look for pneumonia or other complications.  Recently a swab has been developed using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology to amplify the presence of DNA to confirm diagnosis and investigate other possible infections.


Your vet will decide on the best treatment based on the severity of symptoms.  Often antibiotics are prescribed in more serious cases.


Vaccination is only available for Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2 and parainfluenza virus.  Vaccination is not available for other infectious causes.  Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination can either be given as a separate injection, orally or as an intranasally.  The intranasal vaccine generates immunity within 4 days.  

Kennel Cough vaccinations are recognised as non-core vaccines by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and the Australian Veterinary Association.  Non-core vaccines are those that should be recommended to at-risk animals only given they cause disease less severe than the life threatening core vaccinations protect against such as parvovirus.  Boarding Kennels and Obedience Clubs will not admit dogs not vaccinated for Kennel Cough.  Your vet will discuss your dog’s level of risk with you.

At Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital we vaccinate dogs for Kennel Cough at 10-12 weeks of age with an intranasal vaccine then every year depending on their level of risk.

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