A Guide to Kennel Cough and Natural Remedies That Work Against It

A Guide to Kennel Cough and Natural Remedies That Work Against It
January 23, 2014 by Dr Loridawn Gordon

Kennel cough is also known as Bordetella or tracheobronchitis, and is a type of upper respiratory infection that's common in dogs. It most often occurs when a canine is exposed to both the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and the parainfluenza virus. However, other bacteria and viruses can also trigger this condition. And because Bordetella bacteria are often accompanied by a virus, when your dog has kennel cough, you're actually dealing with more than one infection. 

Once a dog has kennel cough, he or she can easily spread it to other dogs by coughing and sneezing. Therefore, it's common in environments where many dogs are housed in close quarters, such as animal shelters and kennels. Typically, dogs who become sick with kennel cough will need about three weeks to recover if they're otherwise healthy, but longer if they're ill, very young, or old. 

Conventional Treatment Options

Conventional treatments usually involve the use of antibiotics to target the bacteria that are causing the illness, but these remedies won't do anything for the virus that's present. Instead, conventional vets simply wait for the virus to run its course. Cough remedies may also be prescribed for chronic coughing that doesn't subside. 


Although there is a vaccine for kennel cough, it isn't highly recommended. First off, this condition is caused by a wide array of viruses and bacteria, so no single vaccine can do the trick. You may end up giving your dog the vaccine only for him or her to come down with kennel cough anyway.

Unfortunately, some businesses, such as shelters and kennels, require the vaccination. The vaccine really only provides temporary protection before a booster is required.

If you do need to vaccinate your dog, opt for the intranasal vaccine, which is less toxic than the adjuvanted injection.

Effective Natural Remedies

For individuals who are dealing with a sick dog with kennel cough and who want to take a more natural approach to curing the condition, there are quite a few remedies available. Working under the guidance of a naturopathic vet will help you choose the very best option for your unique canine.

Raw honey is one option that even conventional veterinarians will recommend. Honey will soothe the throat, which will be irritated from coughing, as well as provide anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal protections.

Coconut oil provides immune-boosting, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It works really well with raw honey.

Homeopathic remedies include Drosera, Rumex crispus, Spongia tosta, and Aconite. One homeopathic remedy will not be appropriate for every animal, so working under the guidance of your naturopathic vet is crucial. You should also never treat your dog with homeopathic remedies on your own, but instead should consult with a naturopathic veterinarian who is certified in homeopathy.

Final Thoughts

Healthy dogs will recover from kennel cough within a few weeks, as long as they're provided with the right supportive care until the virus runs its course, and they receive antibiotics to combat the bacterial infections they're dealing with. If you don't want to rely solely upon conventional treatments, opt for a natural treatment.

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