Wondering how long does kennel cough last in dogs, in case your pet catches it this flu season? Don’t worry: you aren’t the only pet parent concerned about their dog getting infected. The reopening of public dog parks, kennels, and daycare centers has resulted in a sharp uptick in kennel cough cases. In this article, I will answer all the questions pet owners rightfully have about kennel cough in the post-pandemic era.
Do you have a specific question about the kennel cough? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we'll cover:
- What is Kennel Cough?
- How Long Is Kennel Cough Contagious?
- How Long to Quarantine Dog with Kennel Cough?
- When Does Kennel Cough Go Away?
- How Long Does Kennel Cough Last with Medication?
- How Long Is Kennel Cough Contagious After Starting Antibiotics?
- How Long Does Kennel Cough Last Without Treatment?
- Can Kennel Cough Last for Months?
- Long Term Effects of Kennel Cough
What is Kennel Cough?
“Kennel cough” is a colloquial term for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), a highly contagious ailment that causes an infectious cough in dogs. There is no one specific virus or bacteria that causes CIRD. This disease is usually caused by a combination of:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica, a form of bacteria that causes inflammation of your dog’s upper respiratory tract
- Viruses such as Canine Influenza (CIV), Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Pneumovirus (CnPnV), Canine Adenovirus Type 2 (CAV-2), and Canine Respiratory Coronavirus (CRCoV)
Two, three, or many of these microorganisms may combine to attack healthy cells in your dog’s respiratory tract and weaken its immune system. The disease can spread through:
- Direct Contact. If your dog touches nose or shares toys with an infected dog, the infection can spread.
- Airborne Droplets. When an infected dog howls or barks, the bacteria/viruses can become airborne and transmit to others.
- Touching Contaminated Surfaces. Using water/food bowls that other infected dogs have used can cause your dog to get infected.
How long does kennel cough last on grass? Kennel cough does not last long on grass. But, it does last for a long time on food/water bowls, toys, wooden floors, and pretty much every other hard surface found inside living spaces. Plus, infected dogs at public parks do not need grass to spread this disease. They do it via one-on-one contact. In other words, kennel cough is one of the most contagious diseases for dogs.
How Long Is Kennel Cough Contagious?
It takes at least 3 weeks for an infected dog to fully shed the viruses and bacteria that are behind the Kennel cough disease. However, the exact kennel cough duration may vary depending on the cause of the infection, the severity of the illness, and the type of medications/treatment being administered to the infected dog.
How Long to Quarantine Dog with Kennel Cough?
Any infected dog must be kept in isolation for at least 14 to 21 days, immediately after the onset of symptoms. Doing so will ensure that the disease does not spread to other dogs in the community.
When Does Kennel Cough Go Away?
After the isolation period, two to three extra weeks of rest and treatment may be required for the kennel cough to permanently go away from your dog’s life. For older dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems, recovery can take longer (over six to eight weeks).
How Long Does Kennel Cough Last with Medication?
With medication, an infected dog can defeat the most troubling symptoms of kennel cough in less than 2 weeks. They include:
- A persistent, forceful cough that sounds like “honking”
- Runny nose
- Low, consistent fever
- Loss of appetite
Bear in mind: your dog experiencing a full kennel cough recovery does not mean that he/she is not contagious anymore. With the right medication, your dog’s health may recover in 2-weeks. But, if you want them to shed all the viruses and bacteria behind their disease as quickly as possible, your vet will have to administer antibiotics.
How Long Is Kennel Cough Contagious After Starting Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat the bacterial roots (e.g., Bordetella infection) of kennel cough disease. They are not effective against viruses but they do prevent secondary infections, reduce the severity of the symptoms, and speed up the recovery process.
However, the infected dog must complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by the vet. These courses typically last for 10 to 14 days. Doxycycline and potentiated sulfas are some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for accelerating kennel cough recovery time.
How Long Does Kennel Cough Last Without Treatment?
Untreated kennel cough can go one of two ways:
- Normal Recovery: The disease will last two to three weeks and then go away on its own. Symptoms like non-stop coughing fits, runny eyes, low fever, etc., will be more severe in the first week. By week two, they will cough less. After the third week, they should eat, drink, and behave normally.
- Prolonged Suffering: In some cases, Untreated kennel cough can last for up to 6 weeks or more. If an infected dog’s cough is severe and they are persistently showing symptoms like high fever, difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea after 3 weeks, they should be taken to a veterinarian right as quickly as possible.
If you want a normal recovery for your dog, keep them in isolation for 2-weeks. Also, keep your dog hydrated and well-fed (preferably small meals, 4 to 5 times a day). Install an air purifier or a humidifier in your dog’s room to remove any traces of viruses on clothing, toys, or furniture. If your dog is coughing up mucus, don’t waste any time to clear it by softly rubbing their throat.
Can Kennel Cough Last for Months?
In more severe cases, kennel cough length can get stretched to multiple months. These cases are rare, but they can happen when:
- The dog gets CIRD and the influenza virus at the same time
- The dog is under six months old
- The dog is over thirteen years old and has a compromised immune system
- The dog has an immune system disorder
Puppies suffering from kennel cough for over a month are highly prone to bronchopneumonia. Senior or immunocompromised dogs suffering from kennel cough for over a month are highly prone to chronic bronchitis.
Long Term Effects of Kennel Cough
Only a small percentage of dogs that get kennel cough fall extremely sick and experience long-lasting effects. In general, the usual course of action is to simply allow your dog’s immune system to tackle the problem on its own. Unless your dog has a compromised immune system or other medical issues, kennel cough is not a cause for major panic.
If your dog does get kennel cough this flu season, wait for them to overcome it on their own in about 10 to 14 days. Isolate and take care of them at home. If recovery does not happen after 2-weeks, take your dog to the veterinarian. You also have the choice to get your dog vaccinated. But, that is a decision best left to your veterinarian!
Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com
Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com
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