The Alice Springs Veterinary Hospital

08 8952 9899

17 Elder Street, Alice Springs
After Hours : 03 8644 6104

Canine Cough


Before you panic, here are the answers to some common questions about this illness.

What is canine cough?
Canine cough, also known as "canine infectious tracheobronchitis", (a fancier term), is a highly contagious respiratory disorder in dogs. Many different viral or/and bacterial agents can cause canine cough.
You may see your dog do a high-pitched "hacking" cough that may be worse during excitement or activity. The coughing often ends with a gag or retching and may produce small amount of frothy phlegm. And yes, this can look like vomiting.
Comparing canine cough to a human “cold and flu” can be an effective way to better understand it.

Where did my dog get canine cough from?
In humans, we are more likely to catch a cold if we are regularly around lots of other people. Similarly, dogs are more likely to catch canine cough with frequent exposure to other dogs. So, ask yourself, has your dog(s) been in contact with other dogs? (In a group setting like daycares, grooming, and the Dog Park or boarding kennels?)

My dog never gets boarded. Why did she/he get it?
Any nose to nose contact with a contagious dog may be enough to transmit canine cough. This means even a simple "nose kiss" in a dog park can transmit canine cough. Ask yourself, have you seen your dog(s) nose kiss another dog recently?

Will my dog die from canine cough?
In people, most of us recover from cold or flu without antibiotics or supportive care. In fact, if the cold is from a virus, it will not respond to antibacterial drugs. This is the same with canine cough. Most dogs, fortunately, will get better in 2-3 weeks time without medical intervention.
However, in some cases, canine cough can develop into more serious conditions like pneumonia and will require aggressive treatment. Although this is rare, it can happen, so continue to keep a close eye on your dog and if their condition is worsening call your vet.

My dog is fully vaccinated. Why did she/ he get it?
Just like the common cold or flu in people, many different agents are involved in canine cough. The canine cough vaccination only provides protection against limited number of agents. There are myriad of other agents that our dogs are vulnerable against.
Furthermore, if you think about the seasonal influenza vaccine in humans, the vaccination does not prevent all infections or signs in human. Similarly, in the canine cough vaccination for dogs, vaccines do not necessarily prevent infection.

Then why do we bother vaccinating?
Vaccinations do not prevent infection, BUT they aim to decrease clinical signs should infection occur. Vaccinations can also reduce the shedding of bacteria and virus when they are sick with canine cough. This will minimize the spread of canine cough to other dogs.

So yes, vaccination is important!

Will my dog not get canine cough again if they already had it?
As discussed earlier, there are many different pathogens involved in canine cough. Being infected with one does not preclude being infected with another, so it is possible that your dog could get canine cough again.