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Canine Kennel Cough on the Rise in Canada as Human Pandemic Continues

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Yuliss is the administrator of Best Family Dogs, a site devoted to family dog health, care and raising dogs with children


What Is Canine Kennel Cough?

Veterinarians in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, have noticed many more cases of canine kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis as it is medically termed.

Kennel cough is most commonly viral but can also be a bacterial infection spread from dog to dog as they socialize. It spreads when a healthy dog inhales viral germs from an infected dog. The virus then multiplies along the dog’s respiratory track, most notably affecting the larynx and trachea. As a result, the dog’s vocal cords and windpipe will become inflamed. When the dog's airways become swollen, they get a cough and may have a high-pitched bark or breathing noises.

Why is Kennel Cough on The Rise?

According to the CBC News, cases of kennel cough are rising for a few main reasons.

  • Owners have been reluctant to follow up with regular check up and vaccination appointments for their dogs due to the human pandemic and self-isolation orders
  • Owners are more often frequenting dog parks which have become more crowded since the human pandemic and social distancing rules (humans are social distancing but the dogs are not)

Also, Canada is experiencing winter right now and other reasons that contribute to the spread of kennel cough are

  • Cold weather
  • Stress (such as your dog feeling stressed by travel or stress felt from human to dog from pandemic crisis)

We need to remember to consider that veterinarian appointments for our dogs are considered essential. Dog parks, shelters and boarding facilities as well as group dog obedience or agility classes are high-risk places for communicable infections.

Is Kennel Cough Life Threatening?

Most cases of kennel cough are not life-threating (Dr K Becker) It is usually a cluster of viruses and takes time to recover. It is not transmittable to humans. It can be a type of corona virus in dogs - but is not transmittable to humans.

Although, it is easily contagious between dogs even before symptoms are evident. Dogs may start to show signs and symptoms of kennel cough 2-14 days after inhaling infectious particles. They may not make a full recovery for 3 week or longer.

Dr K Becker

When To Go To The Veterinarian?

This table is simple and clear. If you notice respiratory distress in your dog, you need to get emergency care urgently!


Can Stay at Home and Observe

Go to the veterinarian Right Away!

Signs and Symptoms

Eating, drinking well

Not eating or drinking, respiratory distress


Plays, gets excited, goes for walks, alert

Lethargic, loss of interest in surroundings, hard to rouse

Scroll to Continue

Caring For Your Dog at Home: Best Treatments for Kennel Cough

After you have a diagnosis of kennel cough, or you are monitoring your dog for symptoms of kennel cough, there are ways you can help your dog yourself.

  • Veterinarian recommended medicine
  • Honey is a great natural cough remedy (dose: 1 teaspoon or 5mls/20lbs or 9kg)
  • You can offer your dog plenty of fluids
  • Allow your dog adequate rest (shorten walks until your dog feels better)
  • Run a hot shower in a closed bathroom area and hang out in the bathroom with your dog for 5-10 minutes (the steam will help your dog's congestion)

Noticing Your Dog Needs Emergency Care

I would recommend making a veterinarian appointment if you notice your dog having breathing issues or you notice your dog's health has changed. Their job is too treat and diagnosis our dogs - Providing us with a sense of relief.

When your dog has kennel cough, they may sounds like they have something stuck in their throat.

Their bark or their cough may sound high-pitched or "stridorous". A term used when the airways are very inflamed and their isn't much space for inhaled or exhaled air to pass.

Although most kennel cough cases self-resolve with no antibiotics required, some cases can progress to pneumonia.

Should You Get Your Dog Vaccinated Against Kennel Cough?

There is a vaccine to protect dogs against kennel cough, but is it worth getting it? According to Dr Becker, the vaccine only protects against a limited amount of viral strains of kennel cough- when there are several!

This means, even if your dog is vaccinated and protected against some main viral strains, your dog could still get a bacterial strain or any of the other viruses that can cause kennel cough that were not include in the vaccine.

Getting vaccinated is a choice for each owner to decide an on individual, case-by-case basis.

Would you choose to vaccinate your dog against Kennel Cough?

In Summary

Canine Kennel Cough is a type of canine Corona Virus and it is on the rise in Canada. At a time where humans are struggling to make personal connections among an international pandemic; taking our dog's out to the dog park to socialize with each other while we social desistance with other humans has had unanticipated consequences for our dogs. Some dogs have been given a vaccine for Canine Corona Virus strains, but it is an owners choice whether to vaccinate or not. Even choosing to vaccinate may not provide full immunity to all forms of Canine Corona virus, but it does help stop the spread of the most common strains. Canine Corona Viruses are not transmittable to humans, but having to care for a dog affected by kennel cough can be scary, as they cough and can make abnormal breathing sounds. Work closely with a trusted veterinarian if you think you dog is sick for continuous monitoring and best treatment plans.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Yuliss

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