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How Long is a Dog with Kennel Cough Contagious? A Clear Answer

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

How Long is a Dog with Kennel Cough Contagious

Having a dog with a kennel cough can be stressful, especially if you don’t want to spread it to other dogs. This leads us to the question ‘how long is a dog with kennel cough contagious?’ While kennel cough is usually not a serious condition, it can be problematic for dogs with weakened immune systems or underlying health issues. So it’s vital to take precautions if your dog is infected.

A pro tip to help avoid infectious diseases like kennel cough in your dog is to carry your own portable dog water bottle and collapsible dog bowl to give your dog water at public places like dog parks. This way, you can stop your dog drinking water from bowls that infected dogs may have used. 

To get into everything you need to know about quarantining and caring for a dog with kennel cough, as well as how long it could be contagious, we’ve looked at the data from veterinary studies and medical sources. Let’s dive in.

Are Dogs with Kennel Cough Contagious Before Symptoms Appear?

It’s important to note that dogs are also contagious before you see any symptoms. The pathogens that cause kennel cough typically incubate for between 5 and 10 days before the dog shows symptoms, but your dog may be able to infect other dogs only two days after they were infected.

To really understand how infection works in kennel cough though, we need to understand the disease better as ended to prevent the spread of the disease.

Key Takeaways
Kennel cough typically becomes contagious within 2 to 14 days after exposure.
The contagious period of kennel cough can last for up to three weeks after the onset of symptoms. It can stop on its own if the dog’s immune system is healthy, but if you treat it with antibiotics the issue can resolve much faster.
The dog may still be contagious for several days even after the symptoms have subsided.
Owners should practice good hygiene and keep their dog away from other infected dogs. Be sure to keep dogs vaccinated as kennel cough is not as severe in vaccinated dogs.
What Is Kennel Cough?

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. The disease is essentially a kind of bronchitis from a severe respiratory infection. More specifically, it is inflammation in the trachea or canine infectious tracheobronchitis and it happens when dogs get an infection from bacteria or viruses that affect their respiratory system.

Dogs mainly get infected when they are in groups, so they can pick it up at the dog park, in kennels, boarding facilities, day care, or other places where they come into contact with other dogs. The disease is spread through the air when an infected dog coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with an infected dog.

Causes of Kennel Cough

As mentioned earlier, kennel cough is caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses. The most common cause is Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is a bacterium that can infect the respiratory tract of dogs. Other causes include:

  • Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV); 
  • Canine adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), canine influenza; and 
  • Possibly canine distemper virus.

It is important to note that even vaccinated dogs can still get kennel cough, although the vaccine can help reduce how bad the disease gets. Additionally, puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the disease and may experience more severe symptoms.

If you are concerned about vaccines for dogs, read our article on dogs shaking after getting shots

What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

The symptoms of kennel cough can range from mild to severe and can last for several weeks.

The most common symptoms of kennel cough include:

The cough is often described as a honking sound and may be more pronounced when the dog is excited or exercising.

Dogs may also start losing weight and refusing to eat. They may have hot ears from a fever in some cases.

It is important to note that the symptoms of kennel cough can be similar to those of other respiratory diseases, such as canine influenza. Therefore, it is important to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Contagious Period of Kennel Cough

Onset of Contagiousness

A dog with kennel cough typically becomes contagious within 2 to 14 days after exposure to the pathogen, with the average time that the pathogen incubates being 5 to 10 days from the time the dog is infected to the time they start showing symptoms.

The onset of contagiousness can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the immune system of the dog. Some dogs may become contagious within two days of exposure, while others may take up to two weeks to become contagious. During this time, the dog may not show any symptoms of the disease, but can still spread the infection to other dogs.

Duration of Contagiousness

The contagious period of kennel cough can last for up to three weeks in severe cases after the onset of symptoms. During this time, the dog can spread the disease to other dogs through coughing, sneezing, or direct contact with bodily fluids.

It is important to note that even after the symptoms of kennel cough have subsided, the dog may still be contagious for several days. It is recommended to isolate the infected dog from other dogs until the contagious period h

How Long Before You Can Walk A Dog With Kennel Cough?

When a dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, it is important to limit their activity until they are no longer contagious. This includes avoiding walks or any other activities that may cause them to become overly excited or stressed.

The length of time a dog with kennel cough is contagious can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the dog’s immune system. In general, a dog with kennel cough can be contagious for up to three weeks after the onset of symptoms.

During this time, it is important to keep the dog isolated from other dogs to prevent the spread of the infection. This means avoiding dog parks, kennels, and other areas where dogs may congregate.

Once the dog has been symptom-free for at least 72 hours, they can slowly begin to resume their normal activities, including walks. However, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of walks to avoid overexertion.

It is also important to continue monitoring the dog for any signs of relapse or recurrence of symptoms. If symptoms do reappear, the dog should be isolated once again and evaluated by a veterinarian.

How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?

How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?

Direct Contact

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads from dog to dog through direct contact. When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, it releases bacteria and viruses into the air that can infect other dogs nearby. The bacteria and viruses can also spread through saliva, nose-to-nose contact, or sharing food and water bowls.

Dogs who spend time in places with high dog traffic, such as boarding facilities, groomers, and dog parks, are at a higher risk of contracting kennel cough through direct contact with infected dogs. Puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to catching the disease.

Indirect Contact

Dogs can also catch kennel cough through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces. When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, the bacteria and viruses can land on surfaces such as floors, walls, and toys. Other dogs can then pick up the bacteria and viruses from these contaminated surfaces and become infected.

Indirect contact can also occur through human contact. People who have been in contact with an infected dog can carry the bacteria and viruses on their clothing, hands, and shoes, and spread them to other dogs they come into contact with.

To prevent the spread of kennel cough, it is important to keep infected dogs away from other dogs and to disinfect all surfaces that may have come into contact with the infected dog. Vaccinations are also available to help protect dogs from kennel cough.

How To Prevent Kennel Cough

Vaccination

One of the best ways to prevent kennel cough is through vaccination. The vaccine is available in two forms: injectable and nasal. The injectable vaccine is given in two doses, with the second dose given 2-4 weeks after the first. The nasal vaccine is given in one dose, and it takes effect more quickly than the injectable vaccine.

It is important to note that the vaccine does not provide complete protection against kennel cough, but it can help reduce the severity and duration of the illness if a dog does contract it.

Hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene is another important step in preventing kennel cough. Owners should regularly clean their dog’s food and water bowls, bedding, and toys to reduce the risk of infection.

When taking a dog to public places, owners should avoid areas where other dogs may have been, such as dog parks or pet stores. If a dog must go to these places, owners should keep them on a leash and avoid contact with other dogs.

Care

Finally, providing good care for a dog can also help prevent kennel cough. A healthy immune system can better fight off infections, so dogs should receive regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper veterinary care.

If a dog does develop kennel cough, owners should isolate them from other dogs and seek veterinary treatment. With proper care, most dogs recover from kennel cough within a few weeks.

Overall, vaccination, hygiene, and care are important steps in preventing kennel cough. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of infection, these measures can help reduce the likelihood and severity of the illness.

Treatment for Kennel Cough

If your dog has kennel cough, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the disease from spreading to other dogs.

Veterinary Care

If your dog has kennel cough, it is important to take him to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. The vet may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the bacterial infection, as well as cough suppressants to help alleviate the symptoms. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to provide oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids.

Home Remedies

There are several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of kennel cough. However, kennel cough can become pneumonia or chronic bronchitis in some cases, so don’t rely on home remedies in the place of veterinary care. Some natural remedies that may help kennel cough include:

  • Honey: Honey has antibacterial properties and can help soothe the throat. Mix a teaspoon of honey with warm water and give it to your dog several times a day.
  • Steam: Steam can help relieve the coughing and congestion associated with kennel cough. Bring your dog into the bathroom while you shower, or use a humidifier in the room where he spends most of his time.
  • Chicken Soup: Chicken soup can help boost the immune system and provide necessary nutrients. Make sure to use low-sodium broth and remove any bones before giving it to your dog.

What is the Fastest Way to Cure Kennel Cough?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the treatment for kennel cough will depend on the severity of the disease and the individual dog. However, seeking veterinary care as soon as possible and following the prescribed treatment plan is the best way to help your dog recover quickly and prevent the disease from spreading to other dogs.

 In addition, providing your dog with plenty of rest, fluids, and nutritious food can help support his immune system and speed up the healing process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long is a dog contagious with kennel cough after starting antibiotics?

The length of time a dog remains contagious with kennel cough after starting antibiotics depends on the severity of the infection and the type of antibiotic used. Generally, a dog with kennel cough can remain contagious for up to 10 days after starting antibiotics.

How long to quarantine a dog with kennel cough?

A dog with kennel cough should be quarantined for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of the infection to other dogs. During this time, the dog should be kept away from other dogs and should not be allowed to go to dog parks or other areas where dogs congregate.

How long do dogs with kennel cough have to stay away from other dogs?

Dogs with kennel cough should stay away from other dogs for at least two weeks after the onset of symptoms. This includes not going to dog parks, daycare, or other areas where dogs congregate.

How long are dogs contagious with kennel cough after they stop coughing?

Dogs with kennel cough can remain contagious for up to six weeks after the onset of symptoms, even after they stop coughing. It is important to keep the dog away from other dogs during this time to prevent the spread of the infection.

Can humans get kennel cough from dogs?

While it is rare, medical sources confirm that humans can get kennel cough from dogs. However, the infection is usually mild and self-limiting in humans, and does not require treatment. It is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands after handling a dog with a kennel cough, to prevent the spread of the infection.

Likewise, it is possible (but unlikely) that dogs can get respiratory diseases that may cause kennel cough from humans.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, dogs with kennel cough can be contagious for up to six weeks after the onset of symptoms. It is important to isolate infected dogs to prevent the spread of the disease to other dogs.

While kennel cough can be a mild illness, it can lead to more serious respiratory infections in puppies, older dogs, and dogs with weakened immune systems. Therefore, it is important to seek veterinary care if a dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough.

Prevention is key in avoiding the spread of kennel cough. Vaccination is available for some strains of kennel cough, but it does not provide complete protection. Owners should also avoid exposing their dogs to other dogs with kennel cough and practice good hygiene by washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces that may have come into contact with infected dogs.

Overall, it is important for dog owners to be aware of the signs and symptoms of kennel cough and to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the disease. With proper care and management, most dogs will recover from kennel cough within a few weeks.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.