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An Overview of Canine Cough

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Canine Cough is a common condition that can affect our furry friends of all shapes, sizes and ages. However, this virus is often incorrectly termed “Kennel Cough” in Australia - a name that unfairly implies it is the fault of pet boarding facilities.

This term is also used by the media, further confounding the situation and misleading the general public. That’s why in this month’s blog article, following official advice from the Australian Pet Care Association (APCA), the Pets Country Club team is setting the record straight with this basic overview of Canine Cough.

The cause: A common respiratory virus

Canine Cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis to use the correct medical term, is a common and highly contagious upper respiratory condition that affects dogs and is spread by an airborne virus. If your pet contracts canine cough, they’ll usually display symptoms within 3-7 days (the typical incubation period for this pesky ailment).

Although annoying and uncomfortable for furry friend and owner alike, rest assured Canine Cough rarely develops into something more serious. However just like a human cold, it can lower your dog’s defences to other secondary infections, which is why seeking professional vet care in a timely manner is often the recommended course of action.

It’s also important to note despite the frequently misused term “Kennel Cough', this condition can develop anywhere dogs congregate in social settings – from the local park, to play dates with their canine pals at the neighbour’s house, doggy daycare and of course, pet boarding facilities!

P.S. Given the high population of dogs throughout Greater Geelong, where our Elcho Park address is located, Canine Cough is frequently reported in the region.

  • Canine Cough is a common viral infection affecting dogs

  • Although annoying, it rarely develops into a more serious condition

  • Symptoms usually display 3-7 days after exposure

  • Like other airborne infections, dogs can catch canine cough in any social setting

The Symptoms

Just like the common human cold, Canine Cough is also caused by an airborne virus and results in similar symptoms. The most obvious symptom being a repetitive dry, hacking cough that develops 3-7 days after exposure to the virus and is sometimes accompanied by regular sneezing and nasal discharge (I.e. a runny nose):

  • Dry, “hacking” cough

  • Gagging or vomiting after ingesting food

  • Sneezing

  • Eye or nasal discharge

  • Fever or lethargy

If your dog displays any of these symptoms for a prolonged period, it is best to seek the advice of your nearest qualified vet. On that note, the RSPCA website, AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) directory and Vet Board Victoria are excellent resources for finding a trusted vet in your area.


As with the common human cold, Canine Cough can’t be “cured” but must run its course until the infection leaves your dog’s body, which usually happens within 7 days. Given how all viruses make your furry friend more susceptible to other secondary ailments, your vet will typically prescribe antibiotics as a precaution against a secondary bacterial infection, in conjunction with cough suppressant medication. However, the age-old advice of rest and fluids are the best medicine here.

Thankfully, vaccines (parainfluenza and adenovirus type 2) are available to protect against this common condition and related ailments - generally administered as part of an adult dog’s yearly check-up and required for all dogs who enter the Pets Country Club. Puppies are also vaccinated for this condition in combination with distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus. Just remember, while these vaccines cannot stop Canine Cough completely, they do ensure dogs are provided with the antibodies vital to helping fight off the virus.

  • Canine cough can’t be “cured”, but will generally run its course over 7 days

  • Best treatment is fluids and rest

  • Treatments may also include cough suppressants and occasionally antibiotics

  • Vaccination for Canine Cough is required for all dogs at Pets Country Club

How Pets Country Club approaches Canine Cough

This spring, there’s been more reports of Canine Cough than this time last year, which can be attributed to the El Niño event that has been underway in the Pacific since September.

If any pets staying with us at Pets Country Club show symptoms of an illness, they’re immediately quarantined and their owners notified. Our standard cleaning and care procedures then kick into action, including the use of best practice air and surface sanitisation products. For any infectious illness (this can also include conjunctivitis etc.), we’ll also notify all of your dogs’ friends that they were playing with or staying near, so their owners are informed and can keep an eye out as well.

Keen to find out more about Pets Country Club at Elcho Park Lara? Contact our friendly team of professional animal lovers on (03) 5282 1286.

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