Kennel cough is a highly contagious dog disease similar to a chest cold in humans. Like a cold, kennel cough is usually self-limiting, meaning most dogs recover within three weeks without any treatment. Several natural remedies can help ease symptoms, boost your dog's ability to fight infection, and help him recover quickly.
Dogs with compromised immunity, such as puppies, older dogs and sick or stressed dogs, are more likely to contract kennel cough and are more likely to have complications. Consult your vet if your dog stops eating, has trouble breathing, is lethargic or if symptoms persist beyond three weeks.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
The primary symptom is a frequent dry, hacking cough usually followed by retching. The cough may resemble a deep honking or snorting sound. Some dogs also have a clear, watery eye or nose discharge.
How Kennel Cough is Spread
Kennel cough is caused by airborne bacteria and viruses. When an infected dog coughs, tiny droplets of moisture containing the germs fly from his lungs through the air. If a susceptible dog inhales the droplets, he may come down with the disease. Kennel cough primarily is spread from dog to dog in confined, crowded conditions.
Treating Kennel Cough at Home
Home treatment for kennel cough includes providing environmental support, easing the coughing symptoms and supporting the dog's immune system.
Quarantine your dog to prevent the disease from spreading. Keep your dog in a well-humidified area as much as possible to ease coughing. Bring your dog into the bathroom with you while you shower, or run a humidifier or vaporizer in the room he is in. Finally, walk him with a harness instead of a collar to avoid putting pressure on his trachea. Avoid contact with other dogs to prevent infection.
Easing Coughing Symptoms
Raw honey, which has not been filtered or pasteurized, helps soothe an irritated throat by reducing inflammation and easing coughing. Raw honey is also anti-viral and antibacterial to help combat the infection.
Herbal cough syrups, available from natural food and vitamin stores, can suppress coughing. Choose a syrup that contains slippery elm, licorice, mullein or wild cherry bark. Add honey to the syrup to further suppress coughing and to make it more palatable. Consult your vet to ensure the syrup ingredients are safe for dogs.
Immune System Support
Coconut oil has anti-viral and antibacterial properties. Vitamins C and E also can help your dog fight off infection. Keep your dog well-hydrated by feeding him canned food instead of kibble and giving him low-sodium chicken or beef broth.