Kennel Cough In UK Dogs


Kennel cough is a condition caused by a group of bacteria and viruses infecting a dog’s respiratory system. This condition is highly contagious and is commonly passed between dogs who are living in close proximity to other dogs irrelevant of their respective breeds.

With the above in mind, it is no surprise that the condition gets it’s name from kennels where dogs are often kept together, whether temporarily or permantely. Whilst this is true other places such as dog parks, grooming services and anywhere else where dogs gather in numbers are prone to this infection.

The cough itself and it’s bacterial viral roots mean that spreading is as simple as a dog barking water droplets into the air that other dogs breathe in. Tears and saliva are also key areas of spreading.

Kennel cough is often referred to by a number of names and also can be a side effect of a number of other bacterial or viral infections.

Other names kennel cough is known by

  • Infectious tracheobronchitis
  • Canine infectious respiratory disease

Common bacteria associated with kennel cough

  • Mycoplasma spp
  • Bordetella bronchispetica

Common Viruses associated with kennel cough

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine parainfluenza virus
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Canine adenovirus type 2
  • Canine herpesvirus
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus
  • Canine pneumovirus

Other bacteria and viruses are found alongside kennel cough but at least one of those listed above tend show up in over 98% of cases.


As the name ‘kennel cough’ suggests, the main symptom of the condition is sneezing and coughing.

With that being said symptoms will vary from dog to dog. Many dogs have been seen to be infected with kennel cough while only exhibiting mild symptoms such as sneezing with the odd occasional cough. Other dogs showing more severe symptoms can be seen with a relentless deep chesty cough.

The severity of the symptoms that any dog will show is highly random and fully dependant on the dog in question. This is true except for higher risk dogs.

Common Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

Higher Risk Dogs

Dogs that are young puppies, unvaccinated or immunocompromised (weakened immune system) are at a much higher risk as a demographic. Dogs of any breed that fall into this category will see worse symptoms and side effects if infected.

More severe symptoms

  • Intermittent fevers
  • Constant chesty coughs
  • Problems breathing
  • Congestion
  • Lethargy
  • Problems eating and drinking

Many of these symptoms resemble that of pneumonia and their severity can be just as bad in either condition.

Most symptoms last anywhere from 10-14 days in the most common cases with severe cases lasting up to 28 days depending on the dog in question.

Affected Breeds

No dog breed in particular is more susceptible to contracting kennel cough over any other dog breed.

All dogs and breeds have been observed in contracting the condition.


As mentioned, many dogs that contract kennel cough will get better by themselves usually within 10-14 days.

Whilst this is true it is still very important to seek advice from your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog has the condition. There are many side effects and knock-on conditions that can stem from kennel cough.

Dogs experiencing severe symptoms are commonly prescribed steroids and cough suppressants to deal with the symptoms and to relieve discomfort for your dog. This is a judgment call on the vet’s behalf after studying the dog’s health history and current symptoms.

If your dog is still experiencing symptoms after the 14 day period then it is very important to revisit your veterinarian for further advice as the condition may have mutated or worsened.

UK Treatment Cost

Since kennel cough’s symptoms vary widely from dog to dog, the costs of treatment also vary.

Dogs displaying milder symptoms may not need any treatment and be best advised to let the condition run it’s course.

Dogs displaying medium level symptoms are looking at around £150 for medication and vet visits.

Dogs displaying the worst of symptoms will need X-rays plus medication and are therefore looking at a vet bill of around £300-£500.

Helpful Medication

Further Reading

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