Canine Kennel Cough (What It Is and How to Help)


Canine kennel cough, also known as Bordetella, is a contagious cold that usually lasts for a week or two. It’s a common problem in places where dogs are in close quarters, much like a human cold. If your dog goes to the grooming, daycare, kennel, dog park, or dog beach, he is more likely to be exposed to kennel cough than a dog who stays close to home.

Much like the common cold in humans, there’s no cure for kennel cough. Your dog will just have to ride it out unless symptoms become severe. However, there are some things you can do to help relieve the symptoms at home if your vet is supportive.

When to Call the Vet

If it’s a mild case of kennel cough, the best thing to do is keep your dog at home until the illness passes. Talk to your veterinarian over the phone for recommendations, but in mild cases, the disease will resolve on its own, much like a human cold.

If the symptoms become severe, a trip to the vet will probably become necessary. If the symptoms last longer than two weeks, your dog seems lethargic, he refuses to eat or drink, or he seems to be especially uncomfortable, call the vet right away.

Holistic Remedies for Kennel Cough

Keep in mind that dogs who are stressed out are more likely to get sick. If your dog will be facing a stressful situation, boost his immune system ahead of time by offering supplements like vitamin C and echinacea.

There is significant evidence that unrefined, organic virgin coconut oil has immune-enhancing properties, such as medium-chain fatty acids with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Always confirm dosages with a holistic vet, but 1 or 2 teaspoons per 10 pounds is usually recommended for a sick dog, while half that dose can be given daily to maintain health.

Raw honey is great for soothing sore throats, so if your dog is doing a lot of coughing, this might be a good one to try. Raw honey has also been shown to have anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Offer 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds three of four times a day.

There are several homeopathic remedies that may also help:

  • Drosera is good for dry, tickling coughs that become worse when the dog lays down.
  • Aconite should be given at the first sign of kennel cough when the cough sounds like something is stuck in the throat.
  • Rumex Crispus is another good remedy for coughs that are dry and persistent, often caused by a tickling sensation in the throat.
  • Spongia Tosta is indicated for barking, croupy coughs that get better when drinking warm liquids.

Steam can also be helpful if your dog seems congested or the cough is especially dry. Try putting your dog in the bathroom with a hot shower running for 10 minutes, three or four times a day.

Dogs who aren’t feeling well may not drink enough water. Offering warm bone broth might encourage him to drink more, which is so important for recovering and easing the symptoms. Bone broth offers a variety of health benefits, and it’s easy to make at home.

These suggestions should always be discussed with your vet before administering. If you see a conventional vet who isn’t familiar with a holistic approach to pet care, you might want to seek out the help of a holistic vet in your area.

EPN