‘Kennel Cough’ Risk to All Dogs

Infectious tracheobronchitis, or ’kennel cough’ as it is better known, is typically characterised by a harsh hacking cough and general ill health. Kennel cough can be caused by numerous infectious agents, however, the vast majority of cases are associated with either parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica or both.

Apart from the clinical illness, kennel cough  can itself also result in long-term persistent infection and has the capacity to spread very quickly, particularly in situations where lots of dogs are in close confinement. A classic scenario where infection is likely to spread would be in dogs kept in a crowded situation, where air circulation is poor and conditions are warm – think boarding kennels, obedience classes, grooming parlours or shows.

However, here at Blackrock Veterinary Clinic we are now finding that several dogs are presenting with Kennel Cough , having never been to a boarding kennels. This has been a trend for several years now. These dogs seem to be  catching this contagious disease “out in the open”- be that in the park, on the pier, or anywhere lots of dogs tend to be. In fact , it has recently been suggested recently that the name ‘Kennel Cough’ is now misleading for this disease, and that an alternative name of ‘Contagious Canine Cough’ would be more suitable.

How does infection strike?

A parallel can be drawn between transmission of the human cold and kennel cough. The infectious organisms ride in the exhaled air of an infected dog, carried within microscopic water droplets. A susceptible dog inhales these infectious agents, which then attach to the lining of the trachea and upper airway passages. These agents multiply rapidly resulting in damage to the respiratory tract and causing the classic signs of a harsh dry hacking “goose-honk” cough


Because of this we now recommend that all dogs are given the kennel cough vaccine, not just those that use boarding kennels. This vaccine is unusual in that it is administered into the nose , rather than by injection. It is a single dose vaccine, can be given at the same time as your dog’s regular vaccination, and gives full year long protection ( the older vaccines only lasted 6 months).