Our rescue... your best friend


ARF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit

Animal Rescue Foundation logo

Animal Rescue Foundation

FB-f-Logo__blue_58 twitter-bird-blue-on-white pinterest_badge_red Donate online

Donate now!

ARF is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to rescuing homeless dogs and cats in Mobile! Be a part of this lifesaving effort!

Kennel Cough

What is Kennel Cough?


Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection affecting dogs.  It is caused by a combination of the canine parainfluenza virus and the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is highly contagious.


Kennel cough is so named because the infection can spread quickly among dogs in the close quarters of a kennel or animal shelter.


Viral and bacterial causes of canine cough are spread through airborne droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. These agents also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. Most causes of kennel cough are highly contagious with symptoms usually presenting within two to three days after exposure, and can progress to lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia. This disease is not a zoonose, i.e. it cannot be transmitted to humans.


Incubation period is 3–4 days. Symptoms can include a harsh, dry cough, retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting in response to light pressing of the trachea or after excitement or exercise. The presence of a fever varies from case to case. The disease can last initially from 10 to 20 days and can rebreak when the dog is put into a stressful situation which puts stress on the dog's immune system.


Antibiotics are given to treat any bacterial infection present. Cough suppressants are used if the cough is not productive.  Nebulizer treatments and percussion therapy are also helpful in expelling the mucus from the lungs.




Prevention is by vaccinating for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella.

In kennels, the best prevention is to keep all the cages disinfected.  However, because it is airborne, , it is usually not a cleaning or disinfecting issue but rather an airborne issue, as the dogs are in contact with each other's saliva and breath.  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennel_cough


Kennel Cough at ARF


At ARF, all animals are housed in our Intake Holding area upon arrival and until they can be cleared medically.  If the animal is a transfer from another shelter, we require an additional 7 day hold time in our Isolation area in order to monitor for any symptoms.


Kennel Cough at Home


Continued vaccination is key to prevention for your pets so be sure to visit you vet annually and determine an appropriate vaccination schedule.  If you've recently moved to a new area, be sure to consult with your new vet as vaccinations schedules can vary geographically.


Also, almost all boarding facilities require a current Bordatella vaccination, often within the last 6 months. Be sure to check with any boarding facilities you may use in the future and plan ahead.