Symptoms of Kennel Cough in St. Paul, MN

Do you think your dog might have kennel cough? Are you looking for more information to help you decide whether or not to go to the veterinarian for this condition? If so, you’re in the right place.

kennel cough in st. paul, mn


Canine infectious tracheobronchitis (ITB), also known as kennel cough, results from infection of the respiratory tract with one or more viruses and bacteria. It is highly contagious.


The most common causes include canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus 2, canine influenza virus, and bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and Mycoplasma species. ITB may develop from a single agent, or it may be a mixed infection.

Common mixed infections involve B. bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and/or canine adenovirus 2. Viruses and B. bronchiseptica are spread through the air via close contact or by fomites (contaminated inanimate objects).

Direct contact with infected secretions is the most common way that ITB spreads from dog to dog.  Clinical disease often follows exposure to other infected dogs at kennels, dog parks, and dog shows.

Clinical Signs

The most common sign is coughing that often comes in spasms. The cough may be dry and hacking (“goose honk”) or productive (gagging or coughing up secretions). These signs are sometimes mistaken for something caught in the dog’s throat.

Coughing episodes may be triggered by excitement, activity, or pressure on the neck (such as pulling against a collar). Pneumonia and other generalized signs (nasal discharge, fever, decreased appetite, respiratory difficulty) may occur with complicated or serious infections.

Unvaccinated and young dogs are most susceptible to complicated ITB. Secondary bacterial infections may also lead to bronchopneumonia.

Diagnostic Tests

Classic clinical signs and a history of recent exposure to other dogs are suggestive of ITB. Routine laboratory tests, such as a complete blood cell count and biochemistry profile, are often normal unless pneumonia or other complications are present.

Chest x-rays may be recommended if pneumonia is suspected.

Treatment Options

Treatment for uncomplicated ITB is mainly supportive and involves administration of cough-suppressant medications. Cough suppressants are not recommended if the cough is productive or if pneumonia is present.

Increasing the humidity in the environment can ease breathing and loosen respiratory secretions. Most uncomplicated infections resolve with time and do not require antibiotics.

Antibiotics may be given to treat complicated ITB or secondary bacterial infections. Dogs with pneumonia may require intensive care in an isolation ward, with intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen, and antibiotics.

Follow-up Care

 It is important to prevent the spread of this disease to other dogs by taking the following steps:

  • Isolate dogs with ITB from other dogs until all clinical signs have resolved.
  • Keep recovered dogs away from unvaccinated or immunocompromised dogs and puppies.
  • Most of the infectious agents that cause ITB are inactivated by bleach. Disinfect all items (cages, bowls, brushes) that have come in contact with the infected dog with a solution of bleach diluted (1:32) in water.

Vaccines are available for B. bronchiseptica , parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus 2. Puppies are initially given two or three vaccinations 2-3 weeks apart.

The vaccines are repeated at 1 year of age and then yearly.  Vaccines do not prevent all infections, but they usually decrease the severity of disease.

Prognosis of Kennel Cough

For most dogs, prognosis is very good. The disease can be life threatening in young puppies and in dogs compromised by other illnesses. For dogs with pneumonia, prognosis depends on the severity of the pneumonia and any other complicating conditions.

If you think your dog may be experiencing this condition or if you have any questions, feel free to call St. Paul Pet Hospital in Cathedral Hill at (651) 789-6275 or Highland Park at (651) 789-0099.