Yep, Kennel Cough is a thing. It’s really quite common in puppies and dogs a bit like the human cold. Don’t worry though, if Kennel Cough is something your puppy is dealing with, there are many treatments available we can turn to. 

In this article, we’ll be explaining everything you need to know about Kennel Cough including, why so many dogs get it, what treatment there is, about the Kennel Cough vaccine and other things to bear in mind if your puppy catches Kennel Cough.

Here at Zigzag, we are here every step of the way for you and your puppy’s journey together. We’ve developed a training programme based on teaching life skills, not just obedience, that caters to your puppy’s developmental milestones and breed needs, allowing for all of those breed quirks too to shine through, just check our about us page to find out even more cool stuff. We know you might want to have someone to talk to along the way, especially someone who knows one or two helpful things. Our  puppy coaches are always available via phone or text to answer all of your questions on training, raising and socialising your puppy. They’re basically here to make you feel better about the poop on your living room floor.

beagle puppy looking up
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What is Kennel Cough and why does it happen?

Simply put, Kennel Cough is a highly contagious disease that easily spreads amongst puppies due to their young and delicate immune system. It’s usually brewing silently in places where there are a large number of dogs coming into contact with one another, such as the dog park, a doggy daycare or boarding kennel – hence the name Kennel Cough! 

As you can imagine, it’s easy for your puppy to catch Kennel Cough. Dogs can pass it to one another by sharing water bowls, sniffing each other’s bottoms, or simply being in places with many other dogs.

Kennel Cough is just that: a hacking cough that sounds a bit like something might be stuck in your puppy’s throat. Often this is the first sign; it’s essentially a respiratory infection and manifests just like colds and coughs do in humans. 

We’ve had enough of strange diseases, right? Here’s the symptoms you should look out for so you can tackle it quickly:

  • A cough often paired with a retching noise (not to be confused with puppy vomiting – Kennel Cough sounds like something is stuck in the dog’s throat)
  • White mucus being brought up. Sometimes it looks foamy, as if they swallowed a bubble bath mix.
  • A runny nose – sometimes green, like yours! 
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge/weepy eyes

Severe cases of Kennel Cough can also cause a drop in appetite, lack of energy, and a fever. Luckily, there are some great treatments for Kennel Cough, and even vaccines which can help prick the nasty cough goodbye. Hope it won’t get to that point with your puppy! 

Labrador Puppy
Photo by Shane Guymon on Unsplash

Treatment for Kennel Cough in puppies

There isn’t one single treatment for this, although there are a few things your vet can prescribe fir your doggo to help with the symptoms of Kennel Cough. 

1. Antibiotic treatment for Kennel Cough

Some vets will prescribe antibiotics to treat Kennel Cough in puppies, although this is only usually in severe cases or to prevent secondary infection. Mild Kennel Cough symptoms do not usually warrant antibiotics. Understandably, you don’t want to over-rely on antibiotics.

2. Cough Medication and Anti Inflammatories to treat Kennel Cough

Vets can prescribe a cough/or an anti-inflammatory medicine as a treatment for Kennel Cough. It’s pretty self-explanatory how these work; they’ll simply ease the symptoms by reducing any inflammation and suppressing the cough.

3. Using steam as a treatment for Kennel Cough

Steam can also help if your puppy or dog has caught Kennel Cough. Get ready for a yummy visual: it will loosen the mucus in their throat making it easier for it to pass and opens up the airway. You can do this as easily as having your dog in the bathroom while you take a shower – talk about working on a close bond.

4. Using Manuka Honey as a Kennel Cough treatment

Among its many talents, Manuka honey is an amazing antibacterial substance and can be used as a great treatment for Kennel Cough. Luckily enough, this superfood from New Zealand is also something that most dogs slobber over. The honey soothes their throat and, its unique antibacterial and microbial properties, help to fight infection. Whether you pop it on a lickimat puzzle toy or just offer them a spoonful, your puppy will have no trouble taking this as their cough medicine. 

Don’t want to overload them with sugar though! How much you feed will vary depending on the size of your dog, so make sure to take a look at that. 

5. Elderberry Syrup to treat Kennel Cough

Elderberry Syrup is also a natural antiviral fruit extract that is great for boosting the immune system and is an effective treatment for colds and coughs. You can usually find it in health food shops. Don’t forget to save some for yourself!

6. Rest as a treatment for Kennel Cough

One of the easiest ways to treat Kennel Cough is by simply giving your puppy lots of rest! Kennel Cough is not a massive deal for a dog to go through – an otherwise healthy dog has a perfectly functioning immune system designed to fend off coughs and colds, so good rest will definitely help them get there.

7. Ask for a Kennel Cough vaccine 

Many doggy daycares and boarding kennels ask for your dog to have had the Kennel Cough vaccine as a precautionary measure. It’s a personal choice, but in some kennels it’s often non-negotiable. So yes, sometimes not much of a personal choice, it seems.

If vaccinating for Kennel Cough isn’t something you were planning for, a pet sitter might be a good option for you. With fewer dogs to manage, less risk of any kind.

brown puppy on white floor
Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

Things to look out for with Kennel Cough in puppies

What you need to know about the Kennel Cough vaccine

The Kennel Cough Bordetella vaccination is most commonly given up your puppy’s nose, but it can also be injected or taken orally (an oral vaccine is when it’s given directly into the cheek). However, this Bordetella vaccine is not effective against all Kennel Cough strains, so it might be the case that despite being vaccinated, your puppy can still get other types of Kennel Cough. This obviously receives a fair amount of criticism as to its usefulness.

As if there hasn’t been enough debate about vaccines already. 

Keep note that the vaccine also only lasts a year, so you must be prepared to repeat annually in order for it to remain effective. Of course, this doesn’t appeal to many dogs and as you may imagine, it could create some mayhem.  

In the end, it really is a personal choice whether Kennel Cough vaccines are something you want to do.

Having a healthy immune system will help your puppy to fight Kennel Cough naturally

Here’s some basic but golden advice: Ensuring that your puppy remains healthy by getting the correct amount of exercise and eating properly (a raw or home cooked diet are great options. If that’s your thing, make sure it stays balanced and age appropriate!), their immune system will stay healthy and be capable of beating off Kennel Cough on its own. 

Not sure how much to feed your puppy? Check out our in-app food calculator – it will make your life much easier! 

Avoid other dogs if your puppy develops a cough

The early symptoms of Kennel Cough can be pretty subtle. If your pup develops any kind of choking or gagging cough, keep them away from other dogs and see if symptoms develop. Kennel Cough has an incubation period of between 2 and 14 days so it can take a while to really show up in your dog. 

If you’re doubting whether your pup has caught Kennel Cough or not, film them and send it to your vet. Your vet will know in a heartbeat and will be able to tell you what options you have to deal with it, and you won’t risk infecting the whole surgery!

Use a harness to walk your puppy or dog

We recommend you use a harness anyway, but if your pup has Kennel Cough then that’s even more reason not to put pressure on their already sore throat by accidentally choking them! 

Any dog can get Kennel Cough…but some breeds may be more likely to

Do you own a French Bulldog, Pug, Boxer, or any other breed with a smushed nose? Sadly, they may be more prone to getting a bad dose of Kennel Cough, rather than just a mild one. Their cute snub noses and extended soft palates can mean that they hold onto the nasties of  Kennel Cough more than other breeds and may have not had such an easy time getting over it. 

Keep your vet’s phone number close by if you think they’ve joined the Kennel Cough club! 

We’ve made it to the end of the Kennel Cough article. We hope you’ve learnt a bit more about this annoying disease, and have enough information on how to beat it quickly. In most cases, it really isn’t a huge deal and is something that many dogs get several times in their lifetime without any serious issues…but can’t be too careful!

While you’re here, you might want to have a read up on other articles like ‘’Why is my puppy eating everything’’ and others on the big questions you’ll have surrounding new puppy parent life. Want to start your journey on the right foot? Download the Zigzag puppy training app, now, and access our wonderful team of puppy coaches whenever you need them. Literally. They’ll come to the rescue.