Kennel Cough/Canine Cough/Bordetella is always around, just like the cold or flu viruses for people. It’s a social virus that can be spread from dog to dog. If your dog hangs out with others (ie: neighborhood walks, dog park play, grooming, etc.) then there is a chance it can catch it.

What is Kennel Cough?

A general term encompases a viral or bacterial illness that inflames the windpipe and lungs, and causes a cough. The severity and sound of the cough varies by virus and by a dogs’ overall immune system.

How is it spread?

The virus spreads just like a human virus – it is airborne virus and can be spread through coughing, sneezing and contact of surfaces. Environmental irritants (like pollen) may increase the likelihood of some dogs developing kennel cough.

How bad is it?

The majority of cases are the equivalent of a cold in a human and don’t require any medical intervention or antibiotics. Allowing your pet’s body to heal itself naturally is always advisable.

Also just as in humans, it can develop into something more serious, such as pneumonia. If it doesn’t resolve itself within a few weeks, a vet visit is advisable.


Incubation period: 2-14 days

Symptoms usually last 7-14 days

Contagious for 10 days after last clinical symptoms

Can I protect my dog?

There is no true protection, just as there isn’t with human cold or flu.

The Bordetella vaccine creates immunity against several strains, but not all.

The Bordetella vaccine will not prevent your dog from catching kennel cough however it will help lower the chances of contracting the virus. 

Universal Symptoms

A persistent cough. Can sound like a honking, like something is stuck in their throat, or a person-like cough. The cough is usually more noticable at night, first thing in the morning, after excitment or activity. 

Occasional Symptoms

  • White Phlegm
  • Mild loss of energy
  • Runny nose
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Sneezing

Symptoms to watch for

  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Green nassal discharge
  • Fever