Firstly let us clear up a myth – Kennel Cough does not only occur in dogs that reside in or have visited kennels!

We get asked on a daily basis if dogs need to be vaccinated against kennel cough. If your dog has potential contact with other dogs, then YES Absolutely! Most of our dogs go for walks around the street or visit the local beach or dog park where they may come in contact with other dogs. Even dogs which hardly ever leave the back yard could potentially come in contact with an infected dog through the fence if one were to walk past the yard.

So what is Kennel cough or canine cough as some may call it?

Infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough is an infectious cough that affects the upper respiratory tract and is caused most commonly by a virus (Parainfluenza) and a bacteria (Bordatella bronchiseptica). Kennel Cough vaccine provides protection against these pathogens. Not all strains of Kennel Cough are covered by the vaccine nor does the vaccine (or any vaccine for that matter!) provide 100% protection- however, it does greatly reduce the risk of your pet contracting Kennel Cough and can also reduce the severity if you pet does contract it. Kennel Cough is highly contagious and spreads via droplets in the air and via surfaces an infected animal has had contact with such as water and food bowls. In most Kennel cough cases we see, the infected dog has visited a largely populated- higher risk area such as a dog park or boarding facility several days prior to the onset of symptoms. Having said that, it can be contracted any where – sharing food and water bowls, nose to nose contact with an infected dog and even from sniffing a dog through a fence that is walking past your yard.


The most notable symptom is a dry hacking cough that gets worse with excitement or exercise. The cough may cause retching and it may sound like your dog is choking or vomiting. They may have a runny nose. The symptoms often appear worse in the cooler night air.

In more severe cases symptoms may progress to:

  • inappetance
  • lethargy
  • high temperature
  • pneumonia

Young puppies and compromised animals such as animals undergoing chemotherapy are at a higher risk of progressing to a more severe case.

When do we vaccinate for Kennel Cough?

Our practice protocol is to vaccinate at 10-12 weeks of age and the vaccine is usually given at the same time as their second C3 vaccination. If a pup is administered the intranasal form of the vaccine they will not require a booster for a year. If the injectable form is given, a booster will be required 4 weeks later, again usually given at the time of their final C3 puppy booster. All adult dogs require a yearly booster.


Your vet will ask you about what symptoms your dog is displaying and a obtain a detailed history of where your dog has visited in the weeks leading up to the symptoms, if your dog is up to date with vaccination etc. After a thorough physical examination, treatment may involve the use of a cough suppressant and in some cases antibiotics may also be prescribed. It is important to isolate your dog from other dogs to prevent the spread of disease.