May 15, 2020 10 min read

Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis (ITB), kennel cough results from an inflammation of the upper airways. It is usually associated with infection with one or more viral or bacterial agents. If you frequently board your dogs at kennels or attend positive dog training classes, you may run the risk of exposing your furry best friends to kennel cough.

In this article, we’ll discuss canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) in dogs and kennel cough, and how CBD may be beneficial for kennel cough.

Even the most careful pet parents can’t guarantee his or her dog won’t come into contact with an infected dog. Nowadays, though, most dogs will be vaccinated with the Bordetella vaccine against kennel cough.

Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian which vaccines your puppy will need, and also understand that if you’ll be boarding your puppy, attending positive dog training classes, visiting the dog beach or dog park, your puppy will need this vaccine. It is available as either an injectable or nasal spray vaccine.

With Bordetella the most common cause of kennel cough, it’s key to understanding that there are other causes like viruses (parainfluenza virus) and different bacteria that may also be involved with similar symptoms.

“Common clinical signs include nasal discharge, coughing, respiratory distress, fever, lethargy, and lower respiratory tract infections. The clinical signs caused by the different pathogens associated with this syndrome are similar, which makes differential diagnosis challenging,” viaPlos One.

So what is kennel cough or ITB? Because it’s usually a mild disease, it will normally improve on its own. That said, ITB, can also result in fatal bronchopneumonia in pups and younger dogs, as well as affect older dogs or dogs with existing health conditions. Kennel cough spreads fast among susceptible dogs and puppies within the same household, or in kennels and veterinary clinics.

The latest research demonstrates that there are fewer cases of kennel cough in dogs that have been vaccinated.

Thisstudy adds thatThe low detection rate of traditional CIRD agents such asB.bronchiseptica, CAV and CDV might be associated with the extensive vaccination programs adopted in the United States, which may have reduced the circulation of these pathogens in the canine population.”

Additionally, the researchers add that“Key findings were that younger dogs and those with a higher number of co-infections are more likely to develop severe clinical signs, underscoring the importance of vaccination against CIRD at an early age.”

What Is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Astudy published in Science Direct adds that “ITB usually presents as an acute honking cough, which is classically elicited on tracheal palpation. Oculonasal discharges may accompany this cough, especially when multiple-agent infections occur. Dogs that are infected will usually be lethargic and febrile.

The study goes on to add that “Usually, infection is self-limiting, but in a small proportion of cases (<5%), in which puppies are disproportionately overrepresented, pneumonia may develop.B. bronchisepticacauses specific damage to respiratory epithelium, which impacts mucociliary clearance.”

 Viral and Bacterial Pathogens

Acute contagious respiratory disease (kennel cough) can affect dogs throughout the world. “The disease appears to be multifactorial and a number of viral and bacterial pathogens have been reported as potential aetiological agents, including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, andBordetella bronchiseptica, as well as mycoplasmas,Streptococcus equi subsp.zooepidemicus, canine herpesvirus, and reovirus-1, -2 and -3,” via

What Does Kennel Cough Do?

You’ll know right away when you hear the unmistakable choking or hacking cough that sets this illness apart. Kennel cough brings on a hacking cough that may seem like your dog is choking. The cough is also more frequent during exercise, when it’s humid, and when there are changes in temperature.

What Is Bordetella?

a brown dog laying down in a kennel looking sick

Bordetella bronchispetica is a common cause of kennel cough in dogs. Stress and environmental changes like extreme cold and humidity are known to increase a dog’s chances of being infected, as well as its severity. Dogs can breathe in droplets from an infected dog at the dog park or kennel, or even share a water bowl at the dog beach and become infected. Common symptoms include:

  • Spasms of dry coughing
  • Gagging
  • Retching
  • The severity of cough will subside during the first 5 days
  • The disease will last from 10 to 20 days
  • Slight loss of appetite

Severe Symptoms will include:

Fever, nasal discharge that has pus, depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, productive cough, and fever. Puppies will usually present with productive cough, and this may indicate an additional infection like bronchopneumonia or distemper. Affected pups and dogs need to rest in a stress-free environment, and to have the proper nutrition to avoid a relapse during recovery. Dogs with severe symptoms will need to have thoracic radiographs.

The incubation period may be from 3 days to as long as 2 weeks. If you feel that your dog or puppy may have come into direct contact with an infected dog, consult with your veterinarian to make sure that all vaccines are current. Pet parents cannot catch kennel cough from their pets, yet you’ll need to separate your pets to prevent infection.


Most times dogs will not need hospitalization for kennel cough. Treatment may include corticosteroids, cough suppressants, and natural remedies like honey. Dogs that present with secondary bronchopneumonia will need to be treated with“Amoxicillin with clavulanic acid or chloramphenicol are both reasonable empiric choices, as most isolates of B.bronchiseptica andMycoplasmaspp. from affected dogs are susceptible. Antitussive therapy may be used in cases where there is no evidence of bronchopneumonia,” via Science Direct.

Dog Breeds That May Be Prone to Increased Risks for Pneumonia

Brachycephalic dog breeds may be at an increased risk for pneumonia. According to a study, “Brachycephalic breeds appear to be at increased risk for the development of pneumonia, perhaps because of the combination of a short upper airway and frequently turbulent inspiratory effort (or snorting).”

Agents of ITB

“Agents of ITB are spread via aerosolization or by fomites such as feeding bowls. Incubation post-exposure ranges from 3 to 10 days. It is important to note that viral and Bordetella vaccines do not prevent infection; they decrease clinical signs and shedding associated with infection. Post recovery, dogs may shed Bordetella for several months, although naturally acquired mucosal immunity to the infecting strain will prevent clinical signs for 6 months or more. Bactericidal cleansers (including 20:1 water: bleach for 10 minutes of contact) are effective at killing B. bronchiectasis, which can be stable in the environment for days to weeks,” via Science Direct.

Natural Treatments to Help with Coughing

Just like with people, humidifiers may help to reduce coughing and soothe your dog’s throat. That said, one teaspoon of honey in warm water may also help to soothe dry throats, and provide some soothing comfort. If the kennel cough is viral and does not need antibiotics, you’ll need to make sure that your dog recuperates by getting a comfortable night’s rest with plenty of healthy nutrition.

Nowadays, preparing your dog’s favoritemeal with healthy ingredients like grilled salmon, chicken breast, or beef with steamed veggies and quinoa may be the way to go to encourage appetite. Take a look at your dog’s bed, and possibly opt for an orthopedic dog bed with a neck rest, so that your dog can elevate his head and reduce coughing.


Bordetella is a non-core vaccine. It is a bacterial component of kennel cough. Vaccination frequency is two doses 4 weeks apart; booster every 6 to 12 months depending on the risk. The vaccine is usually administered through the dog’s nose.

If you’re about to go on holiday and need to board your dog, it’s best to vaccinate at least 5 to 10 days before boarding your dog. Most kennels will need proof of a booster vaccination before boarding. This is a vaccination with minimal side effects that is safe for dogs. Dogs that are ill should not be vaccinated until they are much better. That said, dogs that are on any meds should complete their course of medication before being vaccinated with the Bordetella vaccine.

Veterinary Cost

A golden retriever puppy laying down on a table with a veterinarian behind them

The general cost for kennel cough treatment will range from $75 to $200 depending on where you live, treatment, and medications needed. If lab work and x-rays are required, there could be an additional few hundred added to that. That said, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis, the correct treatment, and to know that you can afford it. Having good veterinary pet insurance like Embrace,ODIE, Healthy Paws, or Trupanion allows for up to 90% back on vet bills. Pet health insurance allows for a full battery of lab tests for a correct diagnosis.

Will the Vaccine Prevent Kennel Cough?

Although this vaccine does not prevent kennel cough, it will reduce the severity of the disease. Your puppy may develop a milder version of kennel cough. Dogs that have been vaccinated before will rarely develop side effects or a milder version of kennel cough. If your dog develops a cough, consult with your veterinarian to rule out canine flu.

Keep in mind that your dog will need to be vaccinated against canine flu as well and that this is a separate vaccine. As usual consult with your veterinarian to check as to which annual boosters are not necessary, and to find out more about the duration of core vaccines since these have a longer duration of immunity.

You can also get titer testing to find out more about whether your dog is still protected against certain infectious diseases, so as to prevent your furry best friend from getting any unnecessary boosters.

CBD for Kennel Cough

For dogs with kennel cough, it’s always a priority to first visit your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Cannabidiol oil does not replace veterinary care, but can be combined with regular veterinary care to ensure optimal pet health.

With the CBD market taking off, and CBD THC-free hemp oil supplements for pets proving to be effective in pain relief, as well as for reducing inflammation, it’s not surprising that pet parents are opting for these products, instead of long-term pharmaceuticals that may have side- effects like corticosteroids.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the components of the cannabis plant that does not give your furry best friend a “high” CBD is derived from the hemp plant, and can also come from the marijuana plant.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, is what you don’t want in your CBD pet products. Legally, all CBD hemp oil supplements can only have 0.3% or less THC. THC is federally illegal in the US but is available for medical use in several states, and in Canada with a medical marijuana card.

Natural Doggie Organic CBD Hemp Oil helps relieve pain and anxiety in pets. Utilizing only the best natural products, the difference in our oil is that is derived from the highest quality Non-GMO, organic Colorado hemp. All dogs can benefit as this product is a perfect supplement to your animal’s diet and will help keep them happy and healthy. If your animal suffers from anxiety or chronic pain, you will see a noticeable difference in your dog immediately.

Sold out

The Endocannabinoid System in Dogs

Dr. Lascelles from North Carolina State University adds “However, dogs do have the same natural cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system as humans,” (The endocannabinoid system involves physiological processes such as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.) These receptors are found in the dog’s brain and peripheral nervous system.

A 2018 study from the University of McGill added that they had great news for chronic pain sufferers and that they were now able to pinpoint the effective dose of cannabidiol or CBD for safe pain relief, without the “high” from THC.

The researchers added that "We found in animal models of chronic pain that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated with neuropathic or chronic pain," via Science Daily. 

The study goes on to add “Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action ofCBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC," says Dr. Gobbi, who is also Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and staff psychiatrist at the MUHC. "This research is a new advancement for an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine," via Science Daily.

Benefits of CBD

CBD oils have numerous health benefits for dogs that have chronic pain, inflammation, and suffer from medical conditions. Many of these conditions when treated with traditional meds prescribed by your veterinarian, will also benefit from CBD oil use.

Understanding what CBD oil can do, and which conditions may be beneficial, is important today. As usual, consult with a CBD savvy veterinarian for the best advice. A certificate of approval (COA) ensures that your CBD oil is of a high-quality, and safe for your pets. Today, cannabidiol pet products can be safely used for many health conditions including kennel cough.

  • Pain reliever
  • May help withcanine depression resulting from pain
  • May provide relief from cancer side effects like chemotherapy and radiation
  • Promotes healthy skin and coat by preventing sebaceous gland cells from secreting too much sebum
  • May provide benefits to dogs with neurological disorders
  • Helps decrease inflammation in dogs
  • May help prevent cognitive decline
  • May be beneficial for cardiac health
  • CBD may be beneficial in preventing tumor growth
  • CBD helps with diabetes prevention by reducing diabetes up to 56% and reducing associated inflammation in diabetic dogs.
  • Digestive issues
  • Blood disorders
  • Fights off free radicals, and may prevent the development of cancer

Possible CBD Side Effects in Dogs

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

What to Look for in a CBD Hemp Oil Supplement or Treats?

  • Hemp CBD should be 100% food grade
  • Should be made using CO2 extraction
  • No solvents like butane
  • Full-spectrum lab testing by a third party for purity and potency
  • Lab certificates need to be available for all pet parents
  • Pesticide and herbicide free
  • Made with non-GMO hemp
  • Grain-free functional chews if purchasing CBD treats. Numerous flavors in treats like pumpkin, turkey, sweet potato, blueberry with antioxidant properties.
  • Ask for proper and accurate labeling and dosage instructions.
  • Look at each CBD product and research what each CBD product does and does not contain.
  • Find out where and how it was manufactured.
  • Look at the research and find out more about the potential therapeutic effects
  • Find out more about the risks with the specific CBD product by understanding the exact composition. Consult with your veterinarian for a diagnosis first.
  • Look out for misleading labels. Opt for large reputable brands that have been around for a while.
  • Look out for harmful contaminants that may be potentially deadly. No China-sourced or manufactured. If it’s cheaper, there’s a reason. Check out the pesticides and herbicides in the product. There should be none. Look out for glyphosate! Ask questions!
  • Research the 3rd party labs associated with your CBD product.
  • Make sure that CBD dog products are used responsibly.

CBD is a natural supplement that is beneficial for natural pain relief, and for boosting immune health in pets and people. Cannabidiol may reduce inflammation of the trachea and bronchial airways, and also help with throat irritation and pain. Because CBD helps with anxiety, it also may be beneficial in helping dogs relax, allowing them to get a good night’s rest.

Another perk is that CBD helps to promote appetite in sick dogs, so if your dog just doesn’t feel like eating, you can opt for CBDhemp-infused dog treats to enhance his appetite.

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun author of  CBD Oil for Kennel Cough

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.

Also in The Natural Dog Blog

Can Coconut Oil Help with my Dog's Allergies?
Can Coconut Oil Help with my Dog's Allergies?

February 17, 2021 6 min read

Coconut oil has become increasingly popular as a holistic remedy for both people and pets. It can be applied topically or ingested in small amounts. There are many different types of coconut oil available in stores. It is important to know what is best for your dog and how to use it properly.
Stress and Aggression in Dogs
Stress and Aggression in Dogs

February 10, 2021 6 min read

Having a dog who acts aggressively can be one of the most stressful parts of pet parenting. It can take a toll on the relationship between you and your dog, even if the incidents are isolated. Many dogs end up being surrendered due to aggression.  It is important to learn everything you can before making that type of decision.
The Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs
The Benefits of Salmon Oil for Dogs

February 03, 2021 4 min read

Are you looking at giving your dog Salmon oil?  This is a great supplement that you can give to your dog each day.