Naturally Prevent Kennel Cough & the Facts


By Nikki Johnson, Chief Dog Officer & Canine Behaviorist

Kennel Cough is one of the most common forms of dog illness.  What is it, why is it so difficult to prevent, and how can I help my furry friend get over it as quickly as possible?

What is Kennel Cough?

The medical name for kennel cough is “canine infectious tracheobronchitis” (try saying that 10 times fast). It is caused by the Bordetella bacteria.  Unfortunately, it is very common that while your dog’s immune system is fighting off this bacterium their weaken systems become a target for a whole number of viruses, i.e. adenovirus, parainfluenza, distemper and canine reovirus.  The symptoms of kennel cough are wheezing, coughing and phlegm (especially when your dog is excited). These symptoms can get more severe when the infection is stronger, just like when you have a cold. If your dog seems lethargic, unable to sleep comfortably, doesn’t want to eat or shows other signs of distress you should bring them to the veterinarian.

Why is it so difficult to prevent?

Kennel cough is often described as the “common cold” of the dog world. It’s an upper respiratory infection that’s spread through the air.  Just like humans during the winter, dogs can spread their colds to each other by being close to their doggy family, friends, and neighbors. Kennel cough can travel as far from an infected dog as the distance of 1 city block. So, if an infected dog is walking around their neighborhood, they can spread it to the other dogs in their neighborhood without having direct contact between dogs.  By educating yourself, friends, and neighbors, on how to recognize potential infected areas, and then avoiding them, one can help mitigate the spread of the cough.

As we live in denser urban areas the risk of kennel cough becomes more prevalent.   Many healthy dogs can fight kennel cough and overcome it on their own. While others need medication from their veterinarian. It is best to consult your veterinarian and decide on what treatment method you think is best for your dog. Not all treatments and care plans are meant for every dog.  Do not feel uncomfortable telling your dog’s veterinarian if you want to try another method than the one initially recommended. They should respect your decision and come up with a care plan with which you are comfortable.

Although most dogs are vaccinated against these common viruses, just like in human vaccines, the canine vaccines cannot protect against all forms of kennel cough or virus.

How can I “naturally” make my sick pooch feel better?

Coconut oil is one method we use for Pickles the dog! He loves it and we credit coconut oil with keeping his coat shiny and soft. It is also an inexpensive, easy, and a delicious way to enhance your dog’s meals while combating kennel cough other nasty viruses.  Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids. Those fatty acids are anti-viral and anti-bacterial. A recommended daily dose to fight kennel cough is 1-2 teaspoons per 10lbs of body weight. As a preventative measure or after your dog has recovered a dose of .5-1 teaspoon per 10lbs of body weight is ideal. This can be given in food or on its own.

Pro Tip for feeding your dog coconut oil: Freeze a small amount of peanut butter in the bottom of a kong (on the inside of the small hole), partially melt a small amount of coconut oil and pour into the larger hole of the kong, add the rest of the coconut oil in the solid form at room temperature, freeze the kong overnight and serve to your dog.

Raw Honey is something that most dogs love. Dogs have a natural love of sweets. So giving them honey is not only a great way to make them happy but also combat illnesses. Honey has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties.

Pro Tip for feeding your dog honey, especially while they have a sore throat: A ‘slow-feeder’ bowl can be used as a food puzzle for your dog to enjoy while you’re away at work or sitting around the house. Try putting your dog’s daily dose of honey in a slow feeder then put it in the freezer overnight. Your dog will spend a lot of time licking the honey out of the bottom of the slow-feeder.

*Information in this article found on &

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