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Just as human colds may be caused by many different viruses, kennel cough itself can have multiple causes. One of the most common culprits is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica m-- which is why kennel cough is often called Bordetella. 

The Cough

Worried your dog may have kennel cough?

Most dogs that become infected with Bordetella are infected with a virus at the same time. Dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

What is kennel cough?

Most dogs will still want to be active regardless of their cough. However, if you notice that the cough gets worse every time they go for a run, it’s most likely kennel cough, and is best to limit their exercise until all symptoms of the cough are gone. It may be hard to deny your pets the exercise they look forward to everyday, but rest is much more important in this situation so they can recover as quickly as possible.

Although canine cough syndrome is not usually a major health concern, it's important to identify what's going on right away to ensure the symptoms are not masking a more serious underlying condition. There are several indications aside from the hacking to look out for. Read more below and carefully monitor your pet closely for any indications of kennel cough in your dog.


Many dogs will remain happy and active during kennel cough, however depending on the length and severity of the cough it may start to wear your pet down. It’s extremely important to monitor your dog closely if they start acting out of the norm. Other less obvious kennel cough symptoms might include a loss in appetite, redness around the eyes, and/or a runny nose. The quicker you catch these symptoms, the faster you can treat this disease. Please note that kennel cough is extremely contagious so DO NOT allow your dogs to be in contact with other dogs.

Hacking up phlegm is a common symptom of kennel cough, the same way humans do when we have the flu. It is also possible that they may throw up liquid and foam. If they eat their food or drink their water too quickly, they may vomit their dinner and phlegmy water due to an irritated throat. Some dogs won’t cough anything up during kennel cough, but are still suffering from an uncomfortable throat (respiratory tract) disease that should be treated right away.

Depression and Sickness

Kennel cough can almost sound like a honking noise at times. It’s a persistent dry hacking that sounds like your dog is going to vomit. It’s common for your dog to cough many times in succession with the final cough looking and sounding like your dog is trying to hack something out. This is very uncomfortable for your pet, and can put a big strain on its body if it’s not treated right away. CALL YOUR VET if your dog is coughing.

Hacking up Foamy Liquid and Phlegm