Kennel Cough FAQ

What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough aka “Infectious Tracheobronchitis” is an infectious bronchitis, usually involving the bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. Kennel cough is often characterized by a harsh cough that sounds like hacking, often described as it sounding like the dog has something stuck in their throat. Similar to how humans experience colds, each dog will experience kennel couch differently. The infection may range from a mild cough and runny nose to a more serious ‘cold’ involving a ‘honking’ cough, runny nose, reverse sneezing, runny eyes, lethargic behaviour and loss of appetite. In most cases dog’s will show symptoms for one to two weeks. Dog’s can go without showing symptoms for up to two weeks, and continue to shed the virus for up to two weeks after they have stopped showing symptoms.

How do I know if my dog has kennel cough?
Usually your dog will start showing the common symptoms approximately 5-10 days after being exposed to the infection. The most common symptom of kennel cough is a hacking or ‘honking’ cough. Usually, your dog will seem perfectly healthy except for the coughing. If you believe your dog has kennel cough avoid vigorous activity or pulling on leash, these are both activities that may cause coughing fits. In most cases your dog’s activity level and appetite won’t change. After coughing fits your dog may cough up a foamy white substance, this is also a common symptom.

What can I do if I believe my dog has kennel cough?
Great question! In most cases you can treat your dog as if you would treat your own cold. Most cases of kennel cough will clear up within a few weeks without any medical intervention. While your dog is showing symptoms it is important that you monitor hydration and limit vigorous activity. Just like when we are stuffed up, steam helps our dog’s as well. You can bring your dog into the bathroom with you while you shower to ease congestion, if you would like you can give your dog a children’s cough repressant (1tsp of Benalyn or Robitussin every 12 hours), you may also add a vitamin C tablet into their water dish, or give them a mixture of lemon and honey in warm water (you can add to their food or administer with a syringe).

Should I bring my dog to the vet?
Bringing your dog to the vet is entirely up to you. In most cases mild kennel cough will clear up on it’s own within two weeks. Please monitor your dog’s symptoms to ensure that they do not continue for over three weeks. Also keep an eye out for more serious symptoms of kennel cough such as lethargic behaviour or no appetite, nasal discharge or rapid breathing. If you notice any of the previously stated serious symptoms please call your veterinarian for further advice. In more severe cases of Kennel Cough it may develop into a more serious infection such as pneumonia or other tracheal infections. Usually, your veterinarian will do a basic examination of your dog and prescribe some antibiotics.

I think that my dog caught Kennel Cough from Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa. What do I do?
Please call or email us immediately! We may ask you for useful information such as the last few days your dog was in our facility. We do need to know that there is an infection going around so we can take extra precautions to prevent further cases. As much as we hate to see our canine friends ill and away, we will take note of the last time you were with us, and ask that you do not return until at least ten days after your dog has stopped showing symptoms. Please monitor and keep track of your dog’s symptoms and seek veterinary care if it is a more severe case of Kennel Cough.

What do you do to prevent Kennel Cough outbreaks at Happy Tails?
At Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa our number one priority is health and safety! We are always taking precautions to prevent outbreaks of all diseases and infections. These precautions include daily sanitization with a high pressure washer and bleach solution, constant sanitization of all toys and water/food dishes and all other equipment, sanitization of kennels before and after each dog has been in each and changing blankets and beds throughout the day.

When can I bring my dog’s back to mixed dog environments (parks, shows, daycamp, grooming, etc)?
Generally it is best to wait at least 14 days after your dog stops showing symptoms to introduce them back into mixed dog environments.

How can I prevent my dog from catching Kennel Cough?
The only guaranteed way to keep your dog from getting Kennel Cough is to never put them anywhere that any other dog has ever been. Kennel Cough is airborne and highly contagious even before your dog starts to show symptoms, this makes it impossible to know which dog is infected or carrying the virus. There is a vaccination available referred to as the ‘Bordetella’ vaccination, however, the vaccination is not guaranteed. Just as the common annual human flu vaccination, it only protects against a small amount of strains. Kennel Cough has many different strains, which makes it nearly impossible to guarantee protection. We recommend discussing the Bordetella vaccination with your veterinarian to decide if the vaccination is right for your pet.

What will happen if you notice my dog has Kennel Cough and they are already at your facility?
We will immediately quarantine your dog for the remainder of their stay. We will do our best to contact you or your emergency contact (if they are staying in our hotel) to inform you we believe your dog is ill and should be picked up promptly. We will issue you a letter at the time of pick up stating that we believe your dog is showing symptoms of Kennel Cough and cannot come back to our facility for at least 14 days after they stop showing symptoms. We will also enclose an informative kennel cough sheet in which you can refer to.