What Is the Best Kennel Cough Remedy?

The best kennel cough remedy will help soothe your dog's dry throat, ease the coughing and clear up the upper respiratory infection causing the cough. While there isn't a single remedy to cover all these areas, there are several things you can do to relieve the symptoms of kennel cough.

Kennel Cough Explained

Also known as tracheobronchitis, kennel cough refers to a number of highly contagious and common upper respiratory infections in dogs. Kennel cough may be caused by a number of bacterial or viral infections, including the Bordetella bacteria and the parainfluenza virus, and symptoms are generally mild. Symptoms can become severe if left untreated, however, and require immediate attention by your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Symptoms of mild cases of kennel cough include a dry, hacking cough, retching and a clear nasal discharge. Most dogs will remain alert, continue to eat and drink as usual, and stay active. More severe symptoms that may require a trip to the vet include:

  • Lethargic behavior
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Lack of appetite

Isolate your dog from other animals if these symptoms appear. While many kennel cough infections will clear up on their own, often an antibiotic may be prescribed for persistent infections or if your dog will be exposed to multiple dogs in your home or environment like a kennel, dog park or dog show.

Kennel Cough Remedies

Because kennel cough can be caused by a range of organisms, including viruses, antibiotics may or may not be recommended by your vet. In mild cases of kennel cough often the best remedies will relieve coughing and a dry throat to make your dog more comfortable.

  • Make sure your dog is still eating and getting plenty of water. It may help to switch from a dry to a wet food to ensure your sick dog is staying well hydrated and eating.
  • Keep the immune system strong by making sure your dog's food, whether wet or dry, contains the right nutrients and vitamins. Ask your vet about supplements available to boost your dog's immune system.
  • Cough suppressants can offer a huge amount of relief for your dog. Ask your vet about the best medication for your dog. Honey on bread is a home remedy that may also help relieve coughing. 
  • Cut back on exercise, this can worsen kennel cough symptoms.

Preventing Kennel Cough

Vaccines are available to prevent kennel cough, but these vaccinations cannot offer complete protections from every cause of kennel cough. Talk to your veterinarian about the best type of vaccine for your dog, especially if he is often exposed to other animals in kennels, dog shows or parks.

Maintaining a clean environment and good hygiene is also a helpful way to prevent kennel cough from spreading in kennels. If a dog is infected, isolation is essential to prevent the highly contagious infection from spreading to other pets. Puppies and dogs with suppressed immune systems are most vulnerable to infections and more likely to develop severe symptoms of kennel cough that will require more medication and treatment.