Home Health and Care Labrador Diseases & Conditions Kennel Cough Frequently Asked Questions – Keep Your Labrador Healthy!

Kennel Cough Frequently Asked Questions – Keep Your Labrador Healthy!


Is your dog hacking away or making choking-like sounds constantly? It could be infectious tracheobronchitis. More commonly called as kennel cough, it is a kind of respiratory infection found only in dogs. Similar to flu in humans in symptoms, this occurs when parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica virus attack and cause inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. It is not a fatal condition and dogs usually recover without treatment when adequate care is there.

Labrador kennel cough

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract in dogs that is often comparable to flu in human beings. Labradors with a compromised immune system are especially vulnerable to the condition because their bodies are not strong enough to fight the infection. It is also more widespread in crowded areas, such as shelters or kennels, hence deriving its name.

The kennel cough virus spread through airborne droplets or when the nose of a dog comes into contact with the nose of another. Contaminated water and food bowls too help the virus spread.

Your dog is likely to contract the disease at places where he has a chance to meet other canine friends. This may include boarding and daycare facilities and even dog shows. Your pet may be vulnerable to it if his training group has an infected buddy. The risk also exists when you visit dog parks.

Dogs with weak immune system or young puppies are at a higher risk of having the disease.

What are the causes of kennel cough?

Similar to the flu in people, kennel cough in dogs because of the transmission of different bacteria and viruses. Some of these include canine parainfluenza, coronavirus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is the most common culprit.

How is kennel cough transmitted?

Kennel cough in dogs is transmitted either through the air or through accidental ingestion of the bacteria or virus. In other words, your Labrador can be infected by

  • inhaling air contaminated by an infected dog
  • drinking out of the same bowl used by an infected canine
  • staying in the same room or having close contact with a dog with infection (licking, breathing the same air, playing, etc.)
  • accidentally ingesting the virus or bacteria from contaminated surfaces or objects (floor, counters, toys, etc.)

What are the signs of kennel cough?

Coughing, nasal or chest congestion, and bloody or excessive discharge from the nose are primary symptoms of kennel cough in dogs. Some other common signs may include fever, lethargy, vomiting, decreased appetite, and watery discharge from eyes. If you think your Labrador may have kennel cough, it is important that you schedule an appointment with your vet right away and let the receptionist know the symptoms. This way, they can reserve an exam room instead of having you stay in the waiting area and possibly expose other dogs to the disease.

What is the treatment for kennel cough?

Fluid therapy, rest, humidification therapy, a cough suppressant, and other forms of supportive care are the only things usually required for mild cases of kennel cough caused by a virus. However, if the infection is more severe or your vet believes it is due to bacteria, he may prescribe antibiotics and additional medication.

How long is the recovery time?

Most dogs take about 3 to 6 weeks to completely recover from kennel cough. During this time, it is extremely important that you follow your vet’s instructions carefully. Notify him or her if new symptoms appear or if your Lab’s condition worsens. You may also have to take your Lab in for follow-up exams and testing. It allows your vet can monitor the progress and prevent complications, such as pneumonia.

Should I vaccinate my Labrador against kennel cough?

There is a kennel cough vaccine available in three forms – oral, injections, and intranasal. However, it is not effective against all viruses and bacteria that cause the condition. For this reason, it is important that you talk to your vet about the pros and cons of the kennel cough vaccine. Based on this, make a decision as to whether or not your Labrador can benefit from it. If your dog is professionally groomed, attends training classes, or stays at canine boarding facilities, the vaccine is a must. The kennel cough vaccine is typically recommended every 6 months for dogs with a high risk of infection. It should be once a year for all other canines.