What Causes Canine Cough?

How did my dog catch canine cough?

Like human coughs, canine cough can be caused by different viral and bacterial infections. Your dog may pick up a cough after inhaling bacteria or virus particles in the air, or through direct contact with a sick animal. Other causes of canine cough transmission include contaminated objects like water dishes or toys.

Causes of canine cough

Under normal circumstances, your pet has an effective line of defence against bacteria and virus particles. The mucus lining in their respiratory tract traps bacteria and stops it from causing illness. If your pet is stressed, cold, or there’s lots of dust or smoke in the air, this lining may not protect your pet. Crowded, poorly ventilated conditions can also increase chances of the condition spreading rapidly. This is why the condition is also known as ‘kennel cough’.


Greencross Vet Dr Daniel van Geuns says it can be hard to pinpoint the source of the infection.
‘It normally takes four days before the bacteria have multiplied and the coughing begins.’
Once you notice your pet is unwell, be sure to keep them away from others. That means no trips to puppy school, the dog park, or groomer.
‘Canine cough is highly contagious. Infected pets should be separated until the disease has resolved,’ Dr van Geuns says.
Vaccinations are recommended to help prevent disease and are compulsory at boarding kennels. Your pet will need an annual booster to ensure their immunity toward the disease.


Thankfully, canine cough is not usually life-threatening. Dr van Guen says, ‘Most patients will recover from it naturally. However, they may require a course of antibiotics.’
Visit your local Greencross Vets if symptoms persist.
‘A small number of patients will develop more severe secondary infection and pneumonia,’ Dr van Geuns says. ‘It’s important to monitor your pet’s recovery.’
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