What’s The Best Kennel Cough Treatment For Pets?

Spoiler: Sometimes it just needs to run its course.

kennel cough treatment

It’s not fun finding out your pet’s come down with kennel cough. And when that happens, what can you do to help your BFF recover?

We spoke with Dr. Hilary Jones, chief veterinary officer with DodoVet, to find out what kennel cough treatment is like for your pet.

How serious is kennel cough?

That actually depends, since kennel cough is an umbrella term for many different upper respiratory illnesses that can affect your dog or cat.

In some cases, kennel cough can be super mild, and in others it can result in life-threatening complications, like pneumonia.

“The severity of cases depends on how healthy the pet was prior to exposure, any other conditions they may have and the specific organism that is causing the disease,” Dr. Jones told The Dodo.

Both dogs and cats can get kennel cough, but it’s usually less intense for felines.

“Cats tend to stay home and are less likely to be exposed,” Dr. Jones said. “Their signs often tend to be a bit milder than dogs’ as well.”

Is kennel cough treatment necessary?

Kennel cough doesn’t always require treatment.

“Mild kennel cough is often not treated, and we let the immune system handle it,” Dr. Jones said.

Even though kennel cough treatment isn’t necessary in these cases, you can still help your pet with his recovery.

“You can try to help them feel better by getting a humidifier or steaming up your bathroom and having them sit in there for a few minutes,” Dr. Jones said. “This can help open up their airways and break up some of the congestion.”

Try this humidifier from Amazon for $30

(But always check with your vet to confirm that a humidifier would be good for your pet.)

How to treat kennel cough

For kennel cough cases that won’t clear up on their own, there are a couple different treatment methods.

Antibiotics or other medication

Antibiotics and cough suppressants can help, but it’s important that you only give your pet medication with your vet’s explicit approval and instructions.

“Please do not give any over-the-counter medications without speaking with your vet,” Dr. Jones said. “Kennel cough is not the only cause of coughing in dogs, and you don’t want to miss something more serious.”


If your pet has a more serious case of kennel cough — like if he’s developed pneumonia, for example — he’s going to need to go to the hospital.

According to Dr. Jones, a hospital will provide your pet with intravenous antibiotics, fluid therapy and other supportive measures to treat his infection.

How to prevent kennel cough

The Bordetella vaccine will protect your pet against the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, which can cause kennel cough to develop.

“It can be given up the nose, in the mouth or as an injection,” Dr. Jones said. “It is licensed for one year, but some states recommend every six months for pets who frequently visit the groomer or a boarding facility.”

The Bordetella vaccine isn’t required for all cats or dogs, as it’s not a core vaccine. That being said, a lot of day cares, groomers and boarding facilities require pets to get this vaccine, since the protection will keep other animals safe, too.

That’s because the bacteria that causes kennel cough spreads easily through oral and nasal secretions, which allows it to be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or even just sharing food and water bowls.

“If your pet has any coughing, sneezing [or] nasal discharge, please don’t visit a dog park, groomer or boarding facility until their signs have fully resolved,” Dr. Jones said.

So the best kennel cough treatment is actually preventing your pet from getting the disease in the first place. But if your dog or cat does develop kennel cough, now you know what to do.

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.

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