Fetch pays back up to 90% of unexpected vet bills

Get a free quote

Help your dog live a healthier, longer life.

Introducing the Fetch Health Forecast.

Get your dog's free forecast

Fetch by The Dodo Pet Insurance Logo
A photo of a brown and white Australian Shepherd sits in their crate with the door open

Health & Wellness

Kennel cough in dogs

Here's how to stop it from spreading

If your pup is consistently coughing or spitting up white foam along with it, ask your veterinarian about kennel cough. The sickness is pretty manageable, but you'll want to treat it quickly, as it can easily spread to other pets.

What is kennel cough in dogs? 

Kennel cough, or canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), is an upper respiratory infection that often lasts between 1 to 2 weeks, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff vet, told The Dig.

It's often recommended that dogs with Kennel Cough isolate from other pups until at least 1 to 2 weeks after their symptoms resolve, as it's very contagious, she added. (People can't catch kennel cough and it's rare for cats to get it from dogs.) A vet can help you set up a treatment strategy for your dog. 

How do dogs get kennel cough? 

Dogs can catch kennel cough quite easily (and more than one time) — puppies, especially so, because of their immature immune systems.

“Dogs contract kennel cough through direct contact with other infected dogs or contaminated surfaces and objects,” Dr. McCullough said. That’s why it’s important to keep dogs with kennel cough separated from other pets. 

Symptoms of kennel cough in dogs

If you think your pup is struggling with kennel cough, contact your vet. According to Dr. McCullough, here are the symptoms to lookout for: 

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sensitivity of the windpipe
  • Lethargy 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Difficulty breathing

Vets can often diagnose a dog based on their cough. Kennel cough sounds like a dry hacking and can be accompanied by retching and spitting up white foam, Dr. McCullough said. 

Treatment options for kennel cough

In the case that your pup starts showing signs of kennel cough, take them to the vet. Your vet will most likely use your descriptions of your dog’s condition and a physical exam to determine if your pup is sick.

“Some cases of kennel cough require blood testing, X-rays and/or PCR [polymerase chain reaction] testing for diagnosis,” Dr. McCullough added. 

Each dog experiences kennel cough differently — so there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your pup’s kennel cough, they may heal on their own, your vet may recommend antibiotics or (in rarer cases) they may need to stay at the hospital until they’ve fully recovered, Dr. McCullough said. 

You can protect your pup from kennel cough by getting them vaccinated, Dr. McCullough noted. No, the kennel cough vaccine doesn’t always stop dogs from getting sick, but their symptoms are often less severe. Talk to your veterinarian about the right kennel cough vaccine for your pup. 

Now that you know just how unpleasant kennel cough can be, talk to your vet about getting your dog vaccinated. And if your dog manages to contract kennel cough, you’ll know to move them to a separate area and ask your vet about antibiotics for a speedy recovery. These tips will help to ensure your pup has more healthy days and less time away from the dog park. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

Save up to 90% on unexpected vet bills

Use any veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada

Rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot

The most comprehensive pet insurance

Photo by Ayla Verschueren on Unsplash

Sign up for our newsletter

Get a free quote