Kennel Cough


Canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), colloquially referred to as “kennel cough,” can refer to any contagious, acute-onset respiratory disease found in dogs, but is chiefly caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and/or Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPiV);1 although other organisms have been implicated in transmission of CIRD, or are associated with the disease by co-infection (See: Symptoms).


Because outbreaks of CIRD can be fairly common,1 many boarding and/or grooming facilities and some public parks require visiting dogs to have received vaccinations for Bordetella bronchiseptica. Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines are administered according to the following schedule:

Schedule Vaccine
(Initial Vaccination) Initial Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccination
(Two (2) to Three (3) Weeks Later if Necessary) Second Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccination
Every Year Thereafter Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccine Booster

A second Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination within two (2) to three (3) weeks is only required for puppies vaccinated between three (3) and six (6) weeks of age.


The bacteria and/or viruses associated with CIRD are transmitted by direct contact with oronasal (respiratory) secretions and/or inhalation of aerosolized micro-droplets from infected animals coughing, sneezing, or merely breathing in close proximity to others.12


The most characteristic clinical symptom associated with CIRD is an acute-onset, uncontrolled hacking cough (“honking”), often in association with gagging and retching behavior.134 Additionally, mild clinical infections caused by CPiV (which can cause edema of the vocal folds and a similar high-pitched cough) or Canine Adenovirus type-2 (CAV-2) may be exacerbated by co-infection with Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, while other agents associated with CIRD in dogs include Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), canine herpesvirus (CHV), and species of mycoplasma and/or streptococcus bacteria.1

Additionally, canine respiratory caronavirus (CRCoV) and Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) can be associated with CIRD by co-infection,5 although only CIV has been shown to cause symptoms of CIRD.1


Therapy for most cases of CIRD involves administration of an antimicrobial, due to the risk in developing an opportunistic bacterial respiratory infection.6 The possibility of exposure to such an infection is greatly minimized by reducing a symptomatic dog’s exposure to other dogs. Barring any complications, with the addition of appropriate supportive care, the cough and other symptoms should subside in time.


Core Vaccinations protect against Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Adenovirus type-2, Canine Parainfluenza Virus, and Canine Parvovirus (collectively referred to as “DA2PP”). Because Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is the chief etiologic agent of CIRD,2 however; it is recommended dogs staying in an high population-density environment, such as a boarding and/or grooming facility or some public parks, receive a Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccine, which provides protection against this bacteria.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ford RB. Rabies and Other Lyssavirus Infections. In: Greene CE, ed. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2012: 55.
  2. ^ a b Keil DJ, Fenwick B. Canine respiratory Bordetellosis: keeping up with an evolving pathogen. In Carmichael LE, ed. Recent Advances in Canine Infectious Diseases. International Veterinary Information Service (IVIS). Published January, 13 2000.
  3. ^ Ford RB. Infectious Tracheobronchitis. In Bonagura JD, ed. Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XII. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co; 1995: 905-908.
  4. ^ Kuehn NF. Merck Animal Health. Tracheobronchitis in Small Animals. Updated November 2013.
  5. ^ Johnson LR. Clinical Canine and Feline Respiratory Medicine. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2010: 106-107.
  6. ^ Ford RB. Rabies and Other Lyssavirus Infections. In: Greene CE, ed. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2012: 61.