Canine Cough in Dogs

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If you’ve noticed your pooch has a hacking cough with or without a runny nose, he or she may suffer from the Bordetella bronchiseptica virus, also known as the canine cough. It is an easily contracted, common bacteria that can occur in a range of animals, including cats, rabbits, and, rarely, humans. Many cases are mild and require no treatment, while others just need a round of antibiotics.

Bordetella is transmitted through the air or direct contact with infected animals. It also can be contracted through contact with infected surfaces, such as kennels and food or water dishes. Due to the communal conditions of kennels and stress from being away from home suppressing the immune system, canine cough spreads easily in these situations.

Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Symptoms of canine cough usually develop 2 to 14 days after exposure to Bordetella. A persistent, hacking cough is the most common symptom, with many pet owners reporting it sounds as if something is stuck in their dogs’ throats. Fever and lethargy also can be present. In some dogs, a whitish or greenish nasal discharge is seen.

In healthy adult dogs, canine cough is usually a mild disease that resolves without medical intervention. Sometimes, your dog may require a course of antibiotics. Puppies and dogs with underlying illnesses, especially immune or respiratory illnesses, can suffer from severe symptoms that require medical attention.


If your dog frequents communal situations such as kennels, doggy daycare, groomers, or dog shows, you may want to consider the Bordetella vaccine. For most dogs, however, it is not a necessary procedure. Your dog will be better served by keeping his or her belongings clean and, if you know of a dog that has contracted canine cough, keep that animal away from healthy dogs or dogs with compromised immune systems.

If you suspect your dog has canine cough, or would like to discuss the Bordetella vaccine, contact Falls Road Veterinary Hospital today. It is our goal to keep your pets safe, healthy, and happy!

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