Dog Kennel Cough: Prevention, Cleaning, and Recovery Tips Every Dog Owner Needs

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Ah, the kennel cough. If you’re a dog owner like me, chances are you’ve had a run-in with this pesky illness at some point. 

It’s like the common cold for dogs, but with a twist – it’s highly contagious and can leave your fur baby (and you) feeling rather miserable. 

In this post, I want to talk a bit more about this disease, touching on how to keep your house clean (for example, does Lysol kill kennel cough?), and a few care tips if you’re going through this right now. 

Buckle up, fellow dog lovers, and let’s embark on this educational journey together!

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What is Kennel Cough?

First things first: what is kennel cough? 

In simple terms, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs, caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria (Canine infectious respiratory disease complex, or CIRDC).

The main culprit is usually the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, which teams up with various viruses to create an all-star lineup of canine misery. 

Symptoms of kennel cough

The symptoms? Think of your pup’s cough as a raspy, hacking sound, similar to a goose honking in the distance. 

You might also notice sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. 

It’s certainly not a pretty sight, but the good news is that most cases are relatively mild and can be managed with proper care.

Now, I remember when my own dog, Molly, caught a kennel cough. 

It was like a scene from a sad movie – her usually energetic self was replaced by a tired, coughing furball. 

But after a trip to the vet and some tender loving care, she was back to her happy self in no time. 

The moral of the story? Prevention and proper management are key when dealing with kennel cough.

Transmission and contagion

So, how does this dreaded illness spread? Picture a game of “telephone,” but with dogs. 

One infected dog coughs or sneezes, and the bacteria and viruses hitch a ride on tiny respiratory droplets, traveling through the air to find a new host. 

It’s a sneaky process, and it can happen anywhere dogs congregate – dog parks, boarding facilities, animal rescues or shelters, grooming salons, and even your own backyard.

Think of it like this: if kennel cough were a band, the bacteria and viruses would be the musicians, and the air would be their tour bus, taking them from one gig (aka, dog) to another.

And just like with humans, close contact makes it easier for the “band” to spread their “music” (in this case, the infection). 

That’s why prevention and proper management are so important, as they can help keep the “concert” from getting out of control.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Can dogs take Mucinex?

How Contagious is Kennel Cough to Other Dogs?


So you might be wondering, just how contagious is kennel cough to other dogs? 

Well, think of it as the canine equivalent of a viral YouTube video – it spreads fast and is nearly impossible to avoid. 

But don’t worry, as we explore the risk factors for transmission and answer some of your burning questions.

Risk factors for transmission

First, let’s talk about risk factors. 

Kennel cough is particularly contagious in places where dogs are in close quarters, like dog shelters, boarding facilities, doggy daycares, and grooming salons. 

Remember that “telephone” game analogy from earlier? 

Well, in these environments, it’s more like a game of “speed dial.” 

Even if your dog doesn’t frequent these social hotspots, they can still catch it from a seemingly innocent playdate or a trip to the dog park.

Can I spread kennel cough on my clothes?

Now, about those clothes. 

Picture this: you’ve just finished a play session with a friend’s dog who has kennel cough (unbeknownst to you). 

You head home, give your own fur baby a big hug, and bam – you’ve unknowingly become a courier for the kennel cough “band.” 

So yes, it’s possible to spread kennel cough on your clothes, though it’s not as common as direct dog-to-dog transmission. 

To minimize the risk, change your clothes and wash your hands after handling an infected dog, and avoid hugging your own pup until you’ve done so.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last on Surfaces?

Moving on to surfaces, you might be wondering how long kennel cough can survive outside of its host. 

The bad news is that the viruses and bacteria responsible for kennel cough can live on surfaces for varying amounts of time, ranging from a few hours to several days, depending on factors like temperature and humidity. 

The good news? By taking some simple precautions, you can keep your home kennel-cough-free.

Disinfecting surfaces

Start by regularly disinfecting common surfaces, such as countertops, door handles, and all the dog toys. 

Focus especially on the areas your dog frequents such as their food and water bowls, crate, and bed. And don’t forget about your own belongings, like your phone, keys, and wallet.

Can a Dog with Kennel Cough Be Around Other Dogs?

But what about our social butterflies? Can a dog with kennel cough play with other dogs? 

As a responsible pet owner, it’s best to avoid exposing other dogs to an infected pup. 

Assessing the risk of transmission is very important, and your vet is the best person to help you determine when your dog is no longer contagious.

How long should a dog with kennel cough stay away from other dogs?

Generally, a dog with kennel cough should stay away from other dogs for at least two weeks, or until they’ve been symptom-free for a few days. 

Think of it as an enforced staycation – your dog may not be thrilled, but it’s for the greater good.

Kennel cough is indeed contagious to other dogs, and minimizing risk factors is key to preventing its spread. 

You have to be super cautious when handling infected dogs or visiting high-risk environments, and take necessary precautions to keep your home clean and safe. 

If you follow these steps and stay vigilant, you’ll be doing your part to keep the kennel cough “band” from playing an unwanted encore in your dog’s life.

Cleaning and Disinfection After Kennel Cough

If you’ve ever faced a bout of kennel cough in your home, you know that the aftermath can feel like a scene from a disaster movie – complete with an invisible enemy lurking in every corner.

You can rest easy though as I’m here to tackle the cleanup process and discuss how to care for your canine companion during their recovery.

Does Lysol kill kennel cough?

does lysol kill kennel cough

First, let’s address the Lysol conundrum. 

Lysol may not be effective against the specific pathogens responsible for kennel cough and is in fact toxic to dogs. Although it is a powerful disinfectant that can eliminate many types of bacteria and viruses, its effectiveness against kennel cough is not guaranteed.

Instead of relying solely on Lysol, it’s best to use a veterinary-approved disinfectant that has been proven effective against the specific pathogens causing kennel cough.

Alternatively, you can use a solution of diluted bleach or Roccal D (from your vet) which are much more effective and safer too.

How do I clean my house after my dog’s kennel cough?

When it comes to cleaning your house after a kennel cough invasion, think of yourself as a detective on a mission to uncover every last trace of the illness. 

Start by washing your dog’s bedding, toys, and food bowls with hot water and pet-safe detergent. 

Don’t forget to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs and countertops. And while you’re on this cleaning spree, consider investing in a good air purifier to help remove lingering respiratory droplets.

Caring for a Dog with Kennel Cough

Tips for providing comfort and promoting recovery

Think of yourself as a canine nurse, equipped with the following tips:

  • Keep your dog hydrated: Encourage them to drink plenty of water by offering fresh, clean water throughout the day.
  • Maintain a comfortable environment: Make sure your home is warm and draft-free to help your dog breathe easier.
  • Use a humidifier: Adding moisture to the air can help soothe your dog’s irritated airways (check out this list of the best humidifiers for dogs).
  • Offer easily digestible food: Choose soft, bland foods that are easy on your dog’s stomach and won’t trigger coughing.
  • Limit activity: Encourage your dog to rest and recover, avoiding strenuous exercise or playtime.
  • Follow your vet’s advice closely: Administer any prescribed medications as directed, and don’t hesitate to contact your vet if you have concerns about your dog’s progress.

Can I bathe my dog if it has kennel cough?

Now, let’s talk about caring for your furry friend during their kennel cough recovery. 

You may wonder, can I bathe my dog if it has kennel cough? 

The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. 

Make sure the water is warm (not hot), and keep the bathing process as stress-free as possible.

Avoid getting water in your dog’s nose and mouth, as this could exacerbate their cough. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a vaccine for kennel cough?

Yes, there are vaccines available to help protect dogs against some of the pathogens that cause kennel cough, the most common one being the bordetella vaccine. Speak with your veterinarian about whether it is appropriate for your dog and its specific lifestyle.

What should I do if my dog has been exposed to kennel cough?

If you believe your dog has been exposed to kennel cough, monitor them closely for any signs of illness and consult your veterinarian for advice. They may recommend a course of action to minimize the risk of infection or provide guidance on how to care for your dog if they develop symptoms.

Can humans catch kennel cough from dogs?

While it is rare, humans can catch Bordetella bronchiseptica, the bacteria responsible for kennel cough in dogs. However, this is more likely to occur in individuals with compromised immune systems, such as young children, the elderly, or those with chronic illnesses.

In Conclusion: Dog Kennel Cough Cleaning

Understanding kennel cough and its impact on our furry friends is essential for any responsible dog owner. 

By recognizing the causes, symptoms, and transmission risks, you now know how to take the necessary steps to prevent and manage this common canine illness. 

Remember to be cautious with contagious situations, pay attention to how long the infection may last on surfaces, and follow appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures after a kennel cough outbreak.

I’m sure you can help your dog bounce back from kennel cough and continue to lead a happy, healthy life by your side!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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