Many dogs suffer from kennel cough at least once. But what is it, and how long does it last? Kennel cough in dogs is an uncomfortable respiratory infection accompanied by a hacking cough. Although you may be mistaken for thinking your dog can only get this condition at a kennel, there are plenty of places where they're at risk. Below, we discuss the causes of kennel cough, its symptoms, and how long it takes dogs to recover from it.

Kennel cough in dogs: How does it happen?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease. It attacks your dog's trachea and bronchial tubes leading to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Kennel cough in dogs is transmitted in several ways. It's an airborne disease. So infected dogs can easily pass it on to other dogs through droplets. Direct contact, such as licking or touching noses, can also transmit kennel cough.

While its name suggests where your pooch is at most risk from this disease, it can be contracted anywhere large amounts of dogs gather. The local dog park and doggy daycare are two other common transmission sites. Several forms of bacteria, such as canine parainfluenza, canine distemper, and Bordetella bronchiseptica, cause this condition.

The excellent news is kennel cough in dogs is highly treatable. However, it's good to remember that dogs of any age can become ill with kennel cough—particularly young puppies and immunocompromised dogs. What are the signs of kennel cough pet parents should look for? Let's take a look below.

Kennel cough symptoms

Signs of kennel cough will show up approximately two to three days after exposure. However, it could be longer. Yes, this respiratory disease is famously known for its harsh, hacking cough. But there are other symptoms dog parents need to know. These include the following:

  • sneezing;
  • runny nose;
  • eye discharge;
  • fatigue;
  • loss of appetite;
  • mild fever;
  • depression.

Call your vet if you notice anything unusual.  Although coughing is a clear sign of kennel cough, other severe conditions like canine distemper also share this symptom. Diagnostic tests will determine whether your dog is suffering from kennel cough. Pet parents will be happy to learn that wellness insurance for dogs often covers these exam costs.  Dog insurance with wellness benefits allows for peace of mind and has you covered at all stages throughout diagnosis and treatment.

How long does kennel cough last?

Depending on the severity, treatment for kennel cough will last several weeks. A vet may prescribe your dog cough suppressants and antibiotics to treat any secondary infections. However, what your dog will need most is rest. Keep your dog away from other pets while they're recovering, and run an air humidifier to help ease their air passages.

When taking your dog for a safe walk, aim for a shorter distance than normal and use a harness. This will reduce any irritation on your dog's windpipe. Other ways to make pets comfortable at home while recovering include using a warm, damp towel to clean away any discharge. Also, they should have a quiet and warm room to rest in.

Pet wellness plans: Preventing kennel cough in dogs

The best way to prevent kennel cough in dogs is to vaccinate them regularly. Many of the viruses and bacteria that cause this respiratory illness are preventable. With a dog wellness plan, your vet will keep your dog's vaccines up-to-date, providing them with the ultimate protection against various diseases.


At Wagmo, our pet wellness plans give pet parents exactly what they need—the financial support to care for their dogs correctly. For as little as $36 per month, you'll get access to affordable pet care services such as vaccinations, routine blood work, ear care, and more. Are you interested in hearing more? Read up on our Wagmo Wellness plans or take the pet wellness quiz to discover which plan is right for your pooch.