article Three adults are accused of locking a 9-year-old child in a kennel. (Credit: Davidson…
Known as infectious tracheobronchitis or canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), kennel cough in dogs is a type of respiratory infection caused by a number of different viruses and infectious agents: canine parainfluenza virus (SV5) , canine adenovirus 2, Bordetella bronchiseptica and mycoplasmas. (1, 2).
When multiple dogs are confined to one space (such as daycares, kennels, animal shelters, veterinary hospitals) and new animals are regularly introduced, kennel cough will be caused by a pathogen complex (3, 4, 5). When pets are densely housed, these pathogens are transmitted from dog to dog through sneezing, coughing, and nose-to-nose contact (6, seven).
The pathogens attack the cilia protecting the dog’s airways and cause inflammation of the upper airways (8). As a result, this causes irritation, which then results in a dry, harsh, staccato cough from the dog (9, ten).
In most cases, kennel cough will be mild and go away alone in about a week (11). You can give your dog cough suppressants while you wait. In rarer cases, a case of kennel cough can progression to pneumonia which is life threatening. Antibiotics will be required, and in some cases hospitalization may also be required (12).
The main difference between a harmless kennel cough and a dangerous cough (pneumonia) is how your dog appears and any additional symptoms. In simple cases, dogs will only have a dry cough, while those with pneumonia will appear very ill, may have a fever, lose their appetite, and be listless (13).
To prevent kennel cough, a dog must be vaccinated. Newer vaccines are highly effective in keeping most common infectious agents at bay (14, 15, 16). This is especially important if you are going to put a dog in a “problem kennel” (with other animals). If your pet has ever developed kennel cough and the case is mild, there are home remedies you can try to ease their discomfort. Here are eight of them you can try.
8 Home Remedies For Dog Kennel Cough
1. Raw honey
Honey has many proven benefits and has been used for centuries for different ailments in animals (17). In animal and human trials, it has also been shown to be effective in suppressing cough (18, 19). If your adult dog has a mild case of kennel cough, try a teaspoon of raw honey to relieve coughing, runny eyes, and runny nose.
Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps fight viruses and bacteria in the body. Its properties make it the most effective home remedy for kennel cough. It is important to use raw honey so all of its medicinal properties have not been cooked through the process of pasteurization. You can also buy honey made specifically for dogs, such as K9 Honey ($21.17).
To note: Only use honey if your dog is over 2 years old. Puppies don’t tolerate sugars well and it can affect their stomach, digestive tract and teeth. For all other dogs, do not give more than 1 teaspoon daily until you see how your pet responds, and stop if you notice weight gain, stomach issues, or other new symptoms.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils are everywhere, just like coconut oil, and many of them have been shown to be effective against coughs (20). For dogs with kennel cough, you can spray their crate with a small mixture of eucalyptus, oregano, and lavender, which can help reduce coughing and disinfect the air.
The most popular essential oils for treating different coughs are:
- Pepper mint (21)
- Thyme (22, 23)
- Nutmeg (24)
- Eucalyptus (25, 26)
- lavender (27)
- Bergamot (28)
- Cinnamon (29)
- Cypress (30)
- Rosemary (31)
- Geranium (32)
You can spray them anywhere your dog lies, and the oils can also be used topically when appropriate. You can also add the oils to a diffuser. It’s like a mini humidifier that mixes oils with water vapor and disperses them into the air. It is much easier to get your pet to breathe the oils than to ingest them.
To note: While some essential oils are helpful, others can be harmful. Consult a holistic veterinarian for help with these kennel cough remedies, as there are hundreds of oils and blends to choose from.
Cinnamon has medicinal and antiviral properties and has been used as a remedy for different health conditions (33, 34, 35, 36). It’s safe for dogs and has even been shown to help lower blood pressure to baseline levels and improve heart problems (37, 38).
It can also serve as a home remedy for kennel cough and suppress cough. Simply sprinkle about half a teaspoon on your dog’s food. If your dog doesn’t like the smell of cinnamon, wet the food a bit, then stir in the cinnamon and let the food soften.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is all the rage lately, and for good reason – it offers many benefits to dogs. Its medium-chain triglycerides have medicinal properties, some of which may extend to cough suppression and more (39, 40, 41).
Dogs with kennel cough (and healthy dogs) can consume about a tablespoon of coconut oil daily mixed in food, or just plain. Coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. You can continue to add it to your dog’s food even after he recovers from kennel cough to help prevent other health problems in the future.
If you live in a particularly dry area, the humidifier can make all the difference. You can also use essential oils alongside it to get even more benefits.
Placing a humidifier near your dog’s kennel or bed will help moisturize the air, which means your dog’s cough will be a little less dry and uncomfortable. It also helps keep their nose and eyes from drying out from all that running.
6. Steam treatments
Just like when a child has gunk stuck in their lungs, having your dog sit in the damp bathroom while you shower can help loosen the gunk and make those coughs a little more productive. It’s like sitting in a room with a giant humidifier.
The steam helps to expand the dog’s lungs, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to flow through the body. You can also put your dog’s bedding in the bathroom and sit on the floor with him while the hot water runs for about 30 minutes.
Make sure your dog stays hydrated. Water is also important for flushing out toxins. If your pet won’t drink water, try a few techniques to entice him. You can also try giving your pet a few ice cubes to chew on.
You can also add a little bone broth to the water to make it more palatable. A good trick is to make ice cubes with diluted beef or chicken broth. Your dog will think it’s a treat and eat it while hydrating at the same time.
One of the most important things you can do is encourage your dog to rest. Keep your dog in a quiet place in the house, away from children and other pets (especially since your dog is contagious to other animals at this time). Provide home remedies for dog kennel cough, but make sure your pet stays calm for as long as the symptoms last.
READ NEXT: 9 Ways To Treat Kennel Cough In Dogs (Science Based)
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