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Honk! Honk! Kennel Cough!

Its fancy name is Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis… WHHAAATT?

Infectious: It’s contagious. Tracheo: the trachea or throat. Bronch: the two large branches leading from the throat to the lungs. -itis: inflammation. That means an upper respiratory infection.

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Go to the groomer’s. Go to the boarding kennel. It usually requires a bordetella vaccination. Know why? It’s called CYA. Yup, that’s it. CYA. Just in case a dog comes in with a case of kennel cough, the facilities want to make sure you can’t sue them.

Ain’t it a grand world we live in?

BTW, I take Shelties for boarding at my home and do not require the bordetella vaccine. 

What Is Kennel Cough?

It’s usually a combination of the bacteria bordetella and some viral infection, for example, influenza. In order to understand the magnitude of the problem, I want you to think: common cold.

Nothing more.

Incubation period is anywhere from 3-10 days after which the dog will start a honking cough usually more pronounced after activity. The cough usually ends with an attempt to bring something up which is why most folks think the dog has something caught in his throat.

It can last for 1 to 3 weeks.

This is Kennel Cough

This is a Reverse Sneeze (NOT Kennel Cough)



Sometimes there is a runny nose and sneezing as well. The dog can be contagious for 1-3 months after the cough is gone.

There usually isn't a fever unless the infection progresses beyond common kennel cough.

Oh, yes, just like in humans there are some canines that may progress to pneumonia and death but generally speaking, it is pretty harmless. A few days or a week or two of misery and the dog ends up just fine.

I am sooooo sick of people using the fear card to make things to seem more important, more dangerous, and more lethal than they really are. 

Simplified Timeline

Day 1: Exposure to infected dog

Day 3-10: Begins to cough, sneeze, have a runny nose

Day 10 - 24: symptoms resolve

honey for kennel cough

And as one who jumps from “they are just fine” to “they are going to die” in one small leap, if I am willing to say that about my pups, it’s a pretty sure thing.

If you have a healthy dog a few simple things (or nothing at all) can help him on the way to recovery. 

If you have an immune-compromised, elderly, infirmed dog, more precautions need to be taken. Common sense.

We have come to a point where we think that our children and our animals should never ever get sick. YOU ARE LIVING ON THE WRONG PLANET IF YOU THINK YOU CAN AVOID ALL ILLNESS.

I’m sure if a vaccine for the common cold came out; there would be lines around to block to get it. Not that it would be very effective but we have become so afraid of everything. UGH!

I know God is going to punish me for writing this page by giving me the worst case of the flu I’ve had in years. But I bet I’ll still get over it.


At Home Treatment For Kennel Cough

What would you do if you or a loved one had a cold? Make sure they still are hydrated. Make them comfortable with some cough suppressant Ohhh, and chicken soup, YAY! 

If your Shetland Sheepdog isn't drinking or eating much, you can offer some Pedialyte Oral Electrolyte Maintenance Powder to keep him from losing too much electrolytes.

I like to use honey and licorice mix. Dr Becker (above) recommends Slippery Elm to soothe a sore throat.

These ingredients are safe for dogs except for the raw honey. Do not give to very young pups (less than a year old) because of the possible presence of botulism spore.

lemon for kennel cough

Both the raw honey and licorice extract are antimicrobial, antiviral. The licorice is a good expectorant and breaks up any mucus in the lungs. Honey can help soothe a sore throat.

You can use the licorice up to five days.

You could also add ½ tsp of lemon to help cut any thick mucus if you wanted.

Both honey and licorice are sweet so I imagine your dog will be able to take it from a spoon or bowl rather than a syringe.

Use Licorice Root Extract; one drop for every pound your dog weighs with one tablespoon of raw honey and a little warm water.Give twice a day.

You can mix a little extra and keep it in the refrigerator for a few days.

IF, and that is a big IF, your Shetland Sheepdog doesn’t get over it in a week or two then maybe its time for the vet.

If you have found the information on these pages to be helpful to you, it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider making a donation.

Funds will go towards website expenses, researching new products to see if they are worth recommending and trying new natural alternatives to canine health care.

To be clear, Yankee Shelties is NOT a non-profit organization, therefore your donation is NOT tax deductible. The IRS needs to extract it's pound of flesh from all of us. 

Could It Be Canine Distemper?

On a more serious side, how do you know it isn’t canine distemper instead of kennel cough?

One way to one from the other is that there is usually no fever with kennel cough. There usually isn't any diarrhea either. If you have some concerns, your vet can do some testing to rule out distemper.

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