Medical Monday #4 Kennel Cough: A Mild Nuisance or a Fatal Disease?

Welcome to another addition of Medical Monday!

Recently, I was asked by a brand new pet parent if the kennel cough vaccine was necessary?

This got me thinking about vaccines and how we have a tendency to think some vaccines are less important because the potential infection could be minor. I myself am even guilty of not getting a flu vaccine because I have had, and have survived the flu. That being said, I am aware that the flu can be fatal to those who are immunocompromised, and it tends to travel quickly from one person to another.

So the question is: is kennel cough a mild nuisance, or a fatal disease?

Although kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis, can be easily treated in the average dog, it can be fatal to puppies, and can become chronic in elderly, weakened or sick dogs (Merck/Merial). The most important thing to remember about kennel cough is that is can spread quickly, so we need to vaccinate!

According to Merck/Merial, a number of different viral and bacterial organisms can be responsible for causing kennel cough. Additionally, stress, changes in ventilation, temperature, and humidity can affect your dog’s ability to catch this disease, and the severity at which they experience symptoms.

What are the signs of kennel cough?

Dry, hacking cough

Cough that sounds like honking


In severe cases, you may see signs of pneumonia, fever, lethargy and lack of appetite.

How does my dog catch kennel cough?

The reason this disease is referred to as kennel cough is because a boarding situation, or facility, is typically where your pet can pick up kennel cough.

However, there are a few other places people don’t typically think kennel cough is a threat, such as the groomers and the dog park.

What can I do to protect my pet?

Vaccinate! The kennel cough vaccine is required to be boosted every year in the Bay Area (this requirement may vary based on your location). If poking your puppy with another needle is a concern, a vaccine may not even require a needle since there is a version that is absorbed through the mucous membranes and is actually given through the nose!

Here is a video I found on what kennel cough sounds like, just as a reference:

What is the treatment for kennel cough?

According to PetMD, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce the irritation that causes the itching and need to cough. However, if the symptoms are more severe an antibiotic may be necessary.

If your pet is showing any of the signs discussed above please seek your veterinarian immediately to help your pet recover!

Has your pet ever experienced kennel cough? If so, where did they pick it up from?

Please don’t forget that we have 4 pets available for adoption on the blog right now…that’s right 4!

Click their picture to find out more of their story and to share!

To all those who have already shared and helped…thank you so much!





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6 Comment

  1. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    July 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Bentley actually came home from being boarded over the weekend at our previous vet’s office! I was not a happy camper. Since then, he is routinely given the preventative shot. It is a very irritating illness to our pets since they cough continually. I felt horrible that he wasn’t vaccinated when he stayed there. It’s not like you can give them cough syrup! LOL! I love your Medical Mondays ♥
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Basset Hounds 101 ~ Part 3My Profile

    1. Reply
      July 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Poor Bentley! I am super surprised he wasn’t required to be vaccinated before he stayed. Thank you for loving Medical Mondays!

  2. Reply
    July 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I had Speedy Vaccinated for Rabbit viral Hemoradic disease and Myxomotosis this year and I am glad because I can now make Speedy more mobile and take him with us on vactions here in the UK without worring,xx Rachel
    speedyrabbit recently posted…Writing Process TourMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Rachel, that is so wise! I don’t know too much about rabbit vaccines….hmmm maybe that would be a fun post!

  3. Reply
    Sharon S.
    July 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Thanks for sharing this story. I didn’t know kennel cough could be more than one type of virus. Very helpful information!
    Sharon S. recently posted…Lizee The Paralyzed Puppy Is Headed To Heath’s Haven RescueMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Sharon! No problem. Yes, I wanted to address this disease because it seems so trivial, but actually can be a big problem.

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