Kennel cough, care and prevention


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There are many possible causes for cough in dogs. If you ask yourself "why do you cough my dog?", Here we show you the 11 main reasons why your dog coughs, along with the associated conditions.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough often results from a combination of viral and bacterial intruders in the dog's airways. If your dog has a dry and persistent cough, sometimes accompanied by white and foamy saliva, it could have a kennel cough. The most common flying bacteria related to kennel coughs tend to spread indoors, such as kennels, boarding schools, dog parks or other similar areas. This condition usually lasts one to two weeks and is treated with antibiotics and other prescription medications. Enclose your dog until it is recovered to prevent it from infecting other animals. And if you have to go out with your dog during the recovery period, try using a harness instead of a collar and leash.

Chronic bronchitis

This disease is characterized by excess mucus in the airways triggered by inflammation. Smoking can cause canine bronchitis in your dog, so if you smoke, don't do it near your dog. Pollution and dust in the environment can also lead to inflammation. Ask your veterinarian about corticosteroids to treat symptoms.

Tracheal collapse

This tends to occur in very small dogs that have a flat trachea, rather than a round or "C-shaped" trachea. In these dogs, changes in airway pressure during breathing causes the trachea to collapse. Sometimes these dogs can get infections or bronchitis, in addition to the collapse of the airways. Treatment may include medications, surgery, or a combination of both.

Heart disease

Congestive heart failure can cause dogs to accumulate fluid in the lungs, which could lead to coughing, especially at night. Enlarged heart can also cause cough. Dobermans, Boxers, Cocker Spaniel and small dogs seem to be more vulnerable to heart disease and related cough.

Fungal infections

Fungal infections can cause cough, shortness of breath, weight loss and fever. Your dog may require antifungal medications (against fungi) for prolonged periods. Keep your dog away from chicken coops or hatcheries and their droppings, as they can be a mushroom breeding ground.


Parasites, such as the heartworm and worms, can also cause your dog to cough. These can be treated with antiparasitic medications, preventive pills and topical medications that your veterinarian can provide.

Strange bodies

Dogs can ingest a wide variety of substances and objects that can lead to coughing episodes. These foreign bodies can be lodged in the gums or in the back of your dog's throat. If this happens, it is normal for you to need the help of a veterinarian to extract and eliminate them.

Lung cancer

Cough may be a symptom of this type of cancer, but it is rare in dogs. However, it is good that your veterinarian discards it as a possibility. Lung cancer in dogs often spreads or ends in metastasis. If your veterinarian suspects that your dog may have this disease, you could be referred to an oncologist, who can provide a more specialized treatment.


This serious disease is characterized by a soft cough, heavy breathing and mucus. Pneumonia requires immediate attention, with treatment with antibiotics and intravenous fluids.


The disease caused by the influenza virus is a relatively new disease in dogs. It is a very contagious respiratory infection that in its mild form causes cough. In its severe form, the symptoms of pneumonia may appear.


Cough can be a symptom of distemper, a devastating, highly contagious viral disease that is transmitted by the respiratory secretions, urine or feces of an infected dog. It can be easily prevented by vaccination.

Do not trust conjecture. If your dog's bark sounds like a cough, seek the opinion of an expert. Your veterinarian can probably help eliminate the cough so you and your dog can breathe easy.

Kennel cough, what is it and how to ward off this disease?

The kennel cough is similar to the cold in people, although it is not dangerous if it is contagious among dogs

The curious name of the disease called kennel cough comes from the fact that animal adoption centers, where a large number of dogs are concentrated, is the ideal breeding ground for contracting this cough. This ailment it can be equated in people to a cold or the flu, although it is not quite the same.

However, "although the kennel's cough is not serious, it is contagious," explains veterinarian José Luis Torres, of the Plant and Animal Protection Society of Madrid. Therefore, it should be detected in time and treated as accurate.

The dry and intense cough It is the main symptom of this canine disease. The expectoration experienced by the dog is so intense that it can expel white foam through the mouth and vomit sporadically. However, dog vomiting is not a symptom of kennel cough. Ana Cameno, veterinarian, explains:

"What happens is that intense cough causes the animal to vomit, but it does not mean that the dog also has stomach problems. "

The kennel cough may present with mild symptoms, no fever or moderate cough. In these cases, the disease remits without the need for treatment. However, on other occasions the dog has fever and cluster of greenish phlegm, in addition to a persistent dry cough. Faced with this clinical picture, the veterinarian has to apply a treatment that helps the symptoms to remit.

My dog ​​suffers from kennel cough, what do I do?

The antibiotics and syrups Cough medications are usually prescribed by veterinarians to treat kennel cough. The treatment of this disease is symptomatic. That is, each dog that suffers from this pathology has different signals and, therefore, needs a different medication.

Once the treatment of the dog suffering from kennel cough begins the usual thing is that the symptoms remit within a week. There are dogs that also need antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or against cough. In any case, if the sick dog lives with other dogs, we must try to isolate it from the rest, because it is a contagious disease. The kennel cough is transmitted through the bacteria that the dog expels through the mouth when coughing.

Prevent kennel cough: vaccinate

Dogs can avoid the kennel's cough with annual vaccinations, especially if they are going to stay in dog residences

The kennel cough virus vaccine is the most effective way to combat this disease. Typically, this vaccine is applied to the dog with six months of age and revaccinated every year.

"The annual revaccination is important, especially in the case of dogs suffering from heart disease, pulmonary diseases of a respiratory nature or having to spend a season in places such as animal residences, where they are in contact with many dogs," Inmanol explains. Sagarzazu, veterinarian.

The time when the Kennel cough affects dogs more is in autumn and winter. The cold can slow down the activity of the dog's defenses and that is when the virus that causes the kennel's cough attacks the dog's organism. In times when an outbreak of this disease occurs, two to three cases can be treated in a veterinary clinic, explains Sagarzazu.

"There are owners who do not vaccinate their dogs against this pathology and, therefore, we have times of the year with a high incidence of kennel cough," he says. But, apart from those specific moments, It is not a disease that is treated regularly in clinics.

Animal shelters, where large numbers of dogs live together, cases of kennel cough multiply when there is an outbreak of the disease. According to Torres, it is "possible to detect around 30 cases of the disease when there is an outbreak" in these centers.

And, when many dogs live together, as is the case of an animal shelter or a canine residence, this disease can spread more easily. "Since, although not serious, it is contagious," adds the veterinarian.

Certain guidelines on the part of dog owners who suffer from kennel coughs help the dog recover from the disease.

Avoid smoking at home It helps the dog does not have a sore throat and causes more cough.

Breathe steam with eucalyptus or mint essence It also relieves discomfort caused by coughing in the can. The way to do it is place a casserole with very hot water with essences of these herbs. The steam that emanates from the casserole in the place where the dog usually sleeps will help calm his cough.

Physical exercise is not recommended. for a dog suffering from kennel cough. "The air that passes through the throat quickly due to rapid breathing, as a result of physical exercise, will irritate the airways and cause more cough in the dog," explains Sagarzazu.

The collar on the dog's neck at the time of the walk it can also cause irritation in the throat of the dog. A trick to relieve the discomfort that it can cause is to replace it with a harness or a handkerchief attached to the neck, where you can hook the dog's strap.

The dog can bathe while it is convalescent of the kennel cough, but it is essential to dry it very well. In case it gets wet with rain, moisture from the dog's coat should also be removed very well.

Types of dog cough and their causes

A dry, strong, hard or repetitive cough is also considered an irritative cough. Irritative cough can be quite painful for the dog. When the irritative cough is lasting, it strengthens and can trigger a vicious cycle. Due to the intense inhalation of air, the mucosa is irritated and damaged, increasing irritation and cough. A simple pull of the collar, pressure on the larynx or trachea, agitation, a strong inhalation and dry air can trigger the cough.

Why does my dog ​​cough?

To explain why dogs cough, we must first know that cough is a reflex that is triggered by an irritation at some point in the respiratory tract. Thus, it can be caused by respiratory tract infections, by the presence of irritating products (such as vegetable fragments or food debris), by heart disease, tumors, parasites or simply by the excessive pressure of a very tight collar .

Coughing increases irritation, which, in turn, intensifies and maintains the cough. This can be deep, dry, wet, sharp, weak or prolonged. Its characteristics will help the veterinarian to guide the diagnosis, as well as the presence of other symptoms such as respiratory disturbances, ocular or nasal secretion, sneezing or expectorations. In any case, we must turn to a professional.

In the following sections we will review the causes of cough in more common dogs.

Causes of chronic irritative cough in dogs:

  • Collapse of the trachea, this is common in small breeds
  • Pressure in the respiratory tract due to tumors, an enlarged atrium of the heart or enlarged lymph nodes
  • Parasites

Wet cough is characterized by the expulsion of secretions. You often hear a rattle when you cough. This cough is more muted, it is almost always accompanied by arcades. Frequently, phlegm-like secretions "vomit" after coughing. This cough usually occurs after rest periods, such as after sleeping.

Cough in dogs for foreign bodies

Any object lodged in the respiratory system can explain why our dog coughs. These objects can be toys, bones and splinters, hooks, ropes, etc. If our dog coughs like he has something in his throat, we are likely to face this case. In addition, it will be displayed restless, anxious and, depending on the location of the foreign body, you are likely to try to get rid of it by putting your legs in your mouth. It is also possible that hypersalive or try to vomit. Also, if the object is installed in the larynx, we will see that the dog coughs as if drowning.

Obviously, we would be facing a veterinary emergency. As a prevention, we must prevent our dog from ingesting materials likely to cause these obstructions.

The diagnosis of cough in dogs

Depending on the type and severity of the cough, the veterinarian will perform different tests to determine the cause and treatment to follow. Size and race also influence the diagnosis, since dogs of small breeds often suffer tracheal collapse. For the first evaluation of the veterinarian it is important that the owner of the dog provide a detailed report. The data that you must communicate to your veterinarian are the following:

  • Since when do you have a cough?
  • How often and violence do you cough?
  • Is it a dry or wet cough?
  • When is the cough more frequent (at night, during the day, when agitated, when eating)?
  • Does the dog have other discomforts? How is your general condition?
  • Is it known about some pre-existing conditions such as heart disease?

Following this, the veterinarian will perform a complete clinical examination. This is often enough to determine the cause of the cough. Here you can see enlarged lymph nodes, elevated body temperature or fever, inflammation, redness or infection of the tonsils or throat. Sometimes an x-ray of the lung or chest is necessary. Above all, attention will be paid to changes in the lung, heart or trachea. Sometimes a blood test, an endoscopy or even an MRI or a CT scan is also required.

Cough treatment in dogs

For the treatment it is necessary to know the cause of the cough. When a mild cough is a result of a cold, resting is usually enough to strengthen the immune system. If the cough is wet it may be convenient to use a mucolytic or expectorant, always after consultation with the veterinarian. Before using any homemade product, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian, since some remedies are not appropriate for dogs. In case of severe and permanent cough, or appearance of new symptoms, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended for more information. Sometimes administration of medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, cough relievers, bronchodilators or treatments for pulmonary edema is required.

Cough in dogs for pharyngitis

Another disease that can explain cough in dogs is pharyngitis, which is usually associated with infections in the mouth or systemic, as in the case of canine distemper, more common in puppies, which can make the dog cough and vomit, present diarrhea, anorexia or apathy. Pharyngitis causes pain, which can cause the dog to stop eating.

The veterinarian will be responsible for diagnosing the underlying cause and treating it. Antibiotics are usually required, in addition to controlling that the dog is fed, for which we can resort to wet food.

Cough prevention in dogs

It is always better to prevent cough than to treat it. Strengthen the immune system through a healthy lifestyle, lots of exercise and a balanced diet will save your hairy a few colds. Due to the risk of infection, it is recommended that you do not leave your dog in contact with other dogs that are sick. As a responsible owner it is not advisable to take your sick puppy to places with other dogs, to avoid contagion. A vaccine can weaken the course of an infection. Make sure your best friend does not inhale strong cleaning products or smoke. To prevent choking and inhalation of food in voracious dogs, they can be fed in antivoracity feeders. To relieve pressure in the neck it is recommended to use harnesses instead of collars.

Cough in dogs for bronchitis

If our dog has a cough and it does not subside in a few months, it is likely that the explanation for why the dog coughs is a chronic bronchitis, more common in middle-aged or elderly dogs. It is generally of unknown origin.

Cough accesses can end the expectoration of sparkling saliva That can be confused with vomit. If left untreated, it can cause irreversible injuries.

The veterinarian will resort to medication to reduce inflammation of bronchi and bronchioles. In addition, we must adopt palliative measures such as the removal of potential pollutants from the environment or the use of a harness to walk.

Cough in dogs due to pulmonary worms

The presence of parasites in the lungs or, in general, in the respiratory tract, is another cause that explains why a dog coughs. There are several species that can infest dogs and contract by ingesting an intermediate host, such as snails. This pathology usually produces a mild cough, although it is also usual that it does not appear no symptoms.

In younger dogs, in addition to a persistent cough, thinning and exercise intolerance can be perceived. When coughing, the larvae reach the mouth and the dog swallows them, being able to be observed later in the feces.

These worms can cause coagulation problems, complicating the condition, and can reach cause the dog to die. Therefore, adequate treatment is required and, in addition, to implement a correct schedule of deworming agreed with our veterinarian in order to prevent infestations.

Heart disease that causes cough in dogs

Although it may be thought that cough always corresponds to respiratory processes, the truth is that Heart problems They can also explain why a dog coughs. An enlargement of this organ affects its functioning and affects the lungs, causing, in addition to cough, exercise intolerance, tiredness, weight loss, ascites, breathing difficulties and even fainting.

These symptoms appear in diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy, the chronic valve or the filariosis, potentially fatal. The latter is caused by heartworms and is booming due to rising temperatures, which facilitates the development of its vector, a mosquito that, if it contains filaria larvae in its mouth organ, will transmit them to the dog.

The filaria develops its life cycle inside and ends up installing mainly in the heart and in the pulmonary arteries, affecting its operation and constituting a risk to the dog's life. In addition, if the larvae move, they can obstruct blood circulation in the lungs, causing pulmonary thromboembolism.

If they affect the hepatic veins, they cause vena cava syndrome, responsible for liver failure. This parasitosis is treated, but in its course, dead larvae can cause blockages, causing the death of the dog.

What to do if my dog ​​coughs a lot?

If you have observed a persistent cough that does not remit and any other signal mentioned in the article, you should visit your veterinarian trusted to perform the necessary tests and determine the cause of cough. The specialist will also offer you an appropriate treatment according to the chart presented by the dog.

The importance of adequate preventive medicine

As you have seen, there are many pathologies that can affect a dog and can also be transmitted to people and vice versa, therefore, it is vital to follow a vaccination and deworming schedule prescribed by our veterinarian, as it will help us maintain the health of our dog and the whole family.

In this regard, it is advisable to visit the specialist every six months and follow a program of monthly deworming to help us prevent and promptly treat any pathology that may affect the dog, always using products prescribed by the veterinarian. Because we love them, we protect them, worms your pet.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cough in dogs - Symptoms, causes and treatment, we recommend that you enter our section of Respiratory Diseases.

Why do dogs cough?

Coughing is normal for dogs. As with humans, dogs can cough to expel some dust or other object small that they have swallowed unintentionally and even to get rid of germs that prevent them from breathing normally.

Dogs use their nose to explore the world. This would explain why it is normal for them to aspirate substances that cause cough. But, in addition, there is another reason to understand the reason that sporadic canine cough is common: the wet nose of dogs helps them smell better, but also causes them to breathe in more substances that can cause them to clear their throat. "These nasal secretions and the licks of the nose help the dog to maintain the moisture of its truffle (snout), a mechanism that helps them capture many odors during their exploration, but also explains that substances such as dust end up inside their pits nasals, "says Dr. Alice M. Wolf, of the international Veterinary Information Network. That is, discovering the world through the nose sometimes leads to some added problems for dogs: viruses, germs and bacteria can enter faster than desirable in your body.

On other occasions, as happens to people, dogs cough because have had a cold or are infected with a virus, so frequent in winter. Its exploratory behavior is also the reason why certain canine diseases, such as the dangerous cough of the kennel, do not take long to spread between dogs that share space. That is why it is so important to clean the dog's bed regularly or maintain the hygiene of the food and drink bowls of the furry life partners.

The dog does not stop coughing, does it have a kennel cough?

The cough of the dog can, however, worsen and be constant. In this case, canine clearing may be a sign that the animal is suffering from a health problem. This is the case with the so-called kennel cough, a viral disease whose main symptom is the dry cough.

The best way to to prevent This condition is with the vaccination of the dog at six months of age. But, in addition, in certain cases veterinarians recommend annual revaccination to keep this disease at bay. This is important, especially when the four-legged friend goes to a canine residence or is in contact with many dogs on a regular basis.

My dog ​​coughs a lot, does it have fungi or bacteria?

If the dog has one deep cough, which sounds almost like a horn, the first step is to review the last week. Have you been to the hairdresser? Have you spent more time in the park or remained in a residence in the company of other animals? In this case, the chances of having been in a sick animal exist, and the best advice is to go To veterinary.

Mushrooms They are other microorganisms that can make a dog sick and cause a deep and worrisome cough. Fungal infections can come through the air, but they also occur when the furry friend has been searching or sniffing in a dirty place.

On other occasions, dog's intestinal parasites They can explain the constant cough. These infections, in addition, are not strange: one in five dogs will suffer an infection by intestinal parasites throughout their life, including worms and tapeworms. Periodic deworming is essential to reduce the risk of infection by parasites. So it is best to check with the veterinarian in each case, to know the dose.

And there is still more. The dangerous distemper disease, a medical condition that can affect dogs of any age, although puppies are more susceptible to contracting it, can also cause an exaggerated cough in the four-legged friend.

Does the dog have a dry cough, does it have bronchitis or is it sick of the heart?

The bronchitis and canine colds They are frequent diseases for dogs in winter. And they can also be triggers of an exaggerated cough.

On the other hand, the heart failure It prevents dogs from breathing normally, so sometimes the dog's exaggerated cough may be the warning sign that there is a problem. The veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate medication, as well as a diet that helps the heart function better.

What to do when the dog coughs?

A dog with a constant dry cough or that does not stop clearing needs to go to the vet urgently. The visit to the doctor is especially important when the dog coughs regularly for weeks or when the cough becomes drier and hoarse. A dog who coughs repeatedly, in addition, will be more tired, may lose his appetite and even suffer a fever. All these are reasons to go to the vet as soon as possible.