Kennel Cough

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a form of bronchitis – similar to that of a chest cold in humans. The classic symptom is a persistent, forceful cough.

Kennel cough is an air borne virus, which can be carried in aerosol droplets from the discharge of an infected animals sneeze or cough or via direct contact with another animal. It is contagious. If you think your dog may have the condition, you should keep him/her away from other animals.

Awful as the choking, hacking noises sound, in the majority of cases, kennel cough is not a serious condition and most dogs will recover without treatment.

Dogs ‘catch’ kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). It’s the inflammation that causes the coughing reflex.

These factors include:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Exposure to dust and/or cigarette smoke
  • Stressful situations like travel
  • Exposure to crowded conditions, like those found in animal shelters and boarding kennels

Complete recovery from infection can take up to three weeks in healthy dogs, and twice as long in older pets or those with other underlying conditions.

Kennel cough rarely results in appetite loss or lethargy, so if your dog is showing those symptoms as well, there could be something else going on.
It’s very important for your dog to have and maintain a strong immune system, especially when dealing with a condition such as kennel cough.

Occasionally, a serious episode of kennel cough can result in pneumonia. If your dog doesn’t start to improve on their own within a few weeks, make an appointment with your vet to be on the safe side. This advice also applies if your dog is having symptoms beyond what is seen with kennel cough, in particular any change in breathing patterns, appetite or energy level.
Since most cases of kennel cough resolve without medical intervention – allowing your pet’s body to heal itself naturally is preferable.

Safe Remedies for Kennel Cough:

Honey is a simple and effective remedy to help alleviate kennel cough. Just give your pet ½ to 1 teaspoon of honey three or four times per day and the results should be quick. Chances are your dog will love the taste, and will be relieved from the cough.
Coconut oil has become a popular supplement for pets in recent years. Because its medium-chain fatty acids kill harmful bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and parasites, its advocates call it an all-purpose infection fighter. The recommended maintenance dose is 1-2 tsp coconut oil per 5kg of body weight per day in divided doses.
Chicken Soup – Yes, really. Chicken soup is one of the most effective kennel cough remedies. It can be given to your dog to help soothe its throat and help boost its immune system.
Vitamin C can be given to dogs for bacterial and virus related conditions. The recommended dosage can vary depending on your dogs weight, but 500mg, two-three times a day is the usual dosage.
Echinacea helps strengthen your dogs immune system against bacteria and viruses and can be used until your dog has fully recovered.
Raw garlic and Olive leaf are natural antibacterial and antiviral agents.

As always, you should talk with your holistic veterinarian about natural remedies and the doses or applications most appropriate for your pet.

Basic home treatment for kennel cough includes:

  • Keeping your dog warm, quiet and free from drafts.
  • Removing your dog’s collar to prevent excessive coughing.
  • Encouraging your dog to drink plenty of fresh water.
  • Providing wet food if your dog’s throat is sore and irritated.
  • Keeping the air moist – a humidifier or vaporizer can help your dogs throat from becoming too dry.

Your dog’s best defense against infection is a strong immune system, which you can boost with nutrition, exercise, and supplements.