Can Dogs Die from Kennel Cough – Important Information for Dog Owner

Yes, dogs can die from kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection. Kennel cough can lead to severe complications, including pneumonia and various respiratory problems, which can be life-threatening, especially for young puppies, older dogs, or dogs with weakened immune systems.

It is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly if your dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough to prevent any potential complications or fatalities.

Can Dogs Die from Kennel Cough


Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that commonly affects dogs. It is comparable to the common cold in humans and can be caused by various infectious agents. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of kennel cough can help dog owners take the necessary precautions to protect their furry friends.

What Is Kennel Cough?

  • Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a respiratory infection that affects the upper respiratory system of dogs. It is characterized by a persistent, dry, hacking cough.
  • The infection is typically caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, including canine parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, and bordetella bronchiseptica.
  • Dogs can contract kennel cough through direct contact with infected dogs, or by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces, such as water bowls, toys, or kennel environments.
  • Kennel cough is particularly common in places where dogs are housed closely together, such as boarding facilities, dog shows, or animal shelters.

Causes Of Kennel Cough

  • Kennel cough is primarily caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. Canine parainfluenza virus and adenovirus are commonly associated with kennel cough, as well as bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacterium that can infect the respiratory system.
  • These infectious agents can spread easily through droplets from coughing or sneezing, as well as through direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Stress or a weakened immune system can make dogs more susceptible to contracting kennel cough.

Symptoms Of Kennel Cough

  • The most common symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, dry cough, which can often sound like the dog is choking or coughing something up. The cough may worsen with exercise or excitement.
  • Other symptoms may include sneezing, a runny nose, nasal discharge, and a low-grade fever.
  • In some cases, kennel cough can lead to more severe respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
  • Although kennel cough is usually a mild illness, it can occasionally progress to pneumonia, especially in young puppies, older dogs, or those with compromised immune systems.

Remember, early detection and proper treatment are vital to managing kennel cough effectively. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options. By understanding the causes and symptoms of kennel cough, you can take proactive measures to protect your furry friend from this contagious respiratory infection.

Potential Risks And Complications

Can Kennel Cough Be Life-Threatening?

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness commonly found in dogs. While most cases of kennel cough resolve on their own without severe complications, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of more serious outcomes.

Understanding the potential risks and complications associated with kennel cough is essential for responsible dog owners.

Factors That Increase The Risk Of Complications

There are several factors that can increase the risk of complications in dogs with kennel cough.

These include:

  • Age: Puppies and senior dogs have weaker immune systems, which can make them more susceptible to severe symptoms and complications.
  • Underlying health conditions: Dogs with pre-existing respiratory issues or weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing complications from kennel cough.
  • Stress: Conditions such as overcrowding, excessive barking, or poor ventilation in kennels or shelters can stress dogs and lower their resistance to the infection.
  • Secondary infections: In some cases, kennel cough can lead to secondary bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, which can be more severe and require additional treatment.
  • Vaccination status: Although the kennel cough vaccine may not completely prevent the infection, dogs who are vaccinated are less likely to develop severe symptoms or complications.

It’s important to note that while kennel cough can be uncomfortable and even unpleasant for dogs, it is rarely life-threatening. The majority of dogs with kennel cough will recover with proper rest, supportive care, and in some cases, antibiotics to treat any secondary infections.

However, it’s crucial to monitor your dog closely and seek veterinary care if you notice any signs of worsening symptoms or if your dog’s condition does not improve.

As responsible dog owners, it is our duty to provide a safe and healthy environment for our furry companions.

By understanding the potential risks and complications of kennel cough, we can take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the infection and ensure the well-being of our four-legged friends.

Remember, early detection, timely treatment, and proper care can significantly reduce the impact of kennel cough on our beloved pets.

Preventive Measures And Treatment Options

Vaccination For Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. The good news is that there are vaccines available that can help prevent this illness. Here are some key points about kennel cough vaccinations:

  • Kennel cough vaccines are available in two forms: Injectable and intranasal. The injectable vaccine is administered through a shot, while the intranasal vaccine is given through the dog’s nostrils.
  • These vaccines are generally safe and effective in preventing kennel cough. However, like any other vaccine, they are not 100% foolproof and there is still a small chance that a vaccinated dog may contract the infection.
  • The vaccines stimulate the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies against the various pathogens that can cause kennel cough, such as bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus.
  • It is recommended that dogs in high-risk environments, such as those regularly attending daycare, boarding facilities, or dog shows, receive the kennel cough vaccine.
  • Puppies should start their kennel cough vaccination series when they are around 6 to 8 weeks old, with boosters given every few weeks until they are around 16 weeks old.
  • Adult dogs that have never been vaccinated for kennel cough should receive an initial vaccination followed by regular booster shots to maintain immunity.

How To Prevent Kennel Cough

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to kennel cough.

Here are some preventive measures you can take to reduce the risk of your dog contracting this contagious infection:

  • Avoid exposing your dog to overcrowded and poorly ventilated areas where the risk of transmission is higher, such as dog parks and poorly run kennels.
  • Make sure your dog’s living environment is clean, well-maintained, and properly sanitized.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date and follow the recommended vaccination schedule for kennel cough.
  • Consider minimizing your dog’s contact with other dogs, especially those showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly after handling other dogs or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • If your dog shows any symptoms of kennel cough, such as a persistent cough, sneezing, or nasal discharge, isolate them from other dogs to prevent the spread of infection.

Treating Kennel Cough Effectively

Although kennel cough is usually a self-limiting illness that resolves on its own within a few weeks, there are some treatment options that can help alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery:

  • Rest is crucial for dogs with kennel cough. Limit physical activity and provide a quiet and comfortable environment for your dog to recover.
  • Humidify the air by using a humidifier or placing your dog in a steam-filled bathroom to help soothe their cough and ease breathing.
  • Cough suppressants may be prescribed by your veterinarian to relieve your dog’s cough and reduce irritation. However, never give over-the-counter cough medications without consulting a vet.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected or if the cough persists for an extended period. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed.
  • Supportive care, such as maintaining proper hydration and providing a balanced diet, can help strengthen your dog’s immune system and aid in their recovery.

Remember, if your dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

By taking preventive measures and seeking timely treatment, you can help safeguard your furry friend from the discomfort of kennel cough.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Can Dogs Die From Kennel Cough

Can Kennel Cough Be Fatal For Dogs?

Yes, kennel cough can be fatal for dogs, especially for puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with weak immune systems. It can lead to secondary infections like pneumonia, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Immediate veterinary care is crucial to ensure a good prognosis for dogs with kennel cough.

How Long Does It Take For Kennel Cough To Kill A Dog?

In most cases, kennel cough itself is not fatal and dogs can recover within 1 to 3 weeks with proper treatment and care. However, if left untreated, kennel cough can progress to more serious respiratory infections like pneumonia, which can be life-threatening to dogs.

Immediate veterinary attention is important to prevent complications.

Can Dogs Die From Kennel Cough If They Are Vaccinated?

While vaccinations can reduce the severity of kennel cough, they do not provide 100% protection. Vaccinated dogs may still contract the infection, but generally experience milder symptoms. However, in rare cases, even vaccinated dogs can develop severe complications from kennel cough.

Regular vaccination is important to lower the risk, but proper care and prompt treatment are still necessary.

Is Kennel Cough Contagious To Humans?

No, kennel cough is not contagious to humans. It is a respiratory infection specific to dogs. However, it is highly contagious among dogs, particularly in environments with close contact, such as kennels, dog parks, and boarding facilities. Good hygiene practices, such as handwashing and disinfection, can help prevent the spread of kennel cough among dogs.

Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?

Although it is difficult to completely prevent kennel cough, steps can be taken to reduce the risk. Vaccinations, like the bordetella vaccine, are available and can minimize the severity of symptoms. Avoid exposing your dog to crowded or poorly ventilated areas where the infection is more likely to spread.

Regular grooming, a balanced diet, and maintaining overall health can also help boost your dog’s immune system to resist infections.


To conclude, kennel cough can be a concerning condition for dogs. While it is usually not fatal and most cases resolve on their own, there is a risk of complications. Pneumonia, in particular, can pose a significant threat to a dog’s health and even lead to death.

It is essential for dog owners to be aware of the symptoms of kennel cough, such as a harsh, dry cough and nasal discharge, and seek veterinary care if necessary. Vaccination and proper hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of this contagious respiratory infection.

Regular vet check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can also boost a dog’s immune system and reduce the likelihood of severe complications. By taking these precautions, pet owners can protect their furry companions and ensure their well-being. Ultimately, early detection and prompt veterinary care are crucial in minimizing the risks associated with kennel cough.