Can I Walk My Dog with Kennel Cough? A Comprehensive Guide


Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that affects dogs. It is characterized by a persistent cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge.

If your dog has been diagnosed with kennel cough, you may be wondering if it is safe to take them for a walk.

In this article, we will explore the topic in detail and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a respiratory infection that affects the upper respiratory tract of dogs.

It is most commonly caused by a combination of viruses, including the canine parainfluenza virus and the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica.

These pathogens can be transmitted through the air or direct contact with infected dogs.

The most common symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, dry cough that can sound like a honking noise. Other symptoms may include sneezing, nasal discharge, and mild fever.

In most cases, the cough is non-productive, meaning there is no phlegm or mucus expelled.

Contagious Nature of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is highly contagious and can spread easily among dogs, especially in places where they come into close contact with each other, such as boarding kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons.

The infection can be transmitted through respiratory droplets expelled when an infected dog coughs or sneezes.

Dogs with kennel cough are contagious for approximately two weeks from the onset of symptoms. However, they can still shed the bacteria for several weeks after the cough has resolved.

It is important to note that even dogs who have been vaccinated against kennel cough can still contract the infection, although the symptoms are usually milder.

To prevent the spread of kennel cough, it is essential to isolate infected dogs from healthy ones.

Avoiding contact with other dogs and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may have come into contact with the infected dog’s respiratory secretions can help reduce the risk of transmission.

Importance of Rest and Isolation

Rest is crucial for dogs with kennel cough as it allows their bodies to heal and recover from the infection.

The coughing associated with kennel cough can be physically exhausting for dogs, and excessive activity can exacerbate their symptoms and prolong the recovery process.

Isolating your dog is also essential to prevent the spread of kennel cough to other dogs.

Keep your infected dog away from other pets in your household and avoid taking them to public places where they may come into contact with other dogs.

Provide them with a comfortable and quiet space where they can rest and recover without being disturbed.

Creating a comfortable environment for your dog’s recovery includes providing soft bedding, ensuring proper ventilation, and maintaining a moderate temperature.

Keep your dog hydrated and offer them small, frequent meals to support their immune system and overall well-being.

Consult Your Veterinarian

If you suspect that your dog has kennel cough or if they have been diagnosed with the infection, it is crucial to consult your veterinarian.

They will be able to assess the severity of the infection and provide appropriate treatment options.

Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as cough suppressants or antibiotics to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms and prevent secondary bacterial infections.

They will also provide guidance on how to care for your dog during their recovery, including exercise restrictions and when it is safe to resume normal activities.

It is important to follow your veterinarian’s advice and treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome for your dog.

They will monitor your dog’s progress and may recommend follow-up visits to assess their recovery.

Exercise Restrictions

During the course of kennel cough, it is generally recommended to limit your dog’s exercise to prevent further irritation of the respiratory tract.

Vigorous exercise can exacerbate coughing and prolong the recovery process.

Engaging in strenuous activities can put additional strain on your dog’s respiratory system, making it harder for them to breathe and recover.

It is best to avoid activities such as running, playing fetch, or engaging in intense play sessions until your dog has fully recovered.

However, it is essential to provide mental stimulation for your dog during their recovery period.

Mental exercises, such as puzzle toys, obedience training, or scent games, can help keep their minds engaged and prevent boredom.

Walking Your Dog with Kennel Cough

While it is generally recommended to limit exercise during kennel cough, short and gentle walks can be beneficial for your dog’s mental well-being and overall recovery.

However, it is crucial to assess your dog’s condition before taking them for a walk.

If your dog’s coughing is severe or if they are showing signs of fatigue or discomfort, it is best to postpone walks until they have recovered further.

Walking your dog when they are not feeling well can put additional stress on their respiratory system and hinder their recovery.

Choose a time and place for a walk where your dog is less likely to come into contact with other dogs. Avoid crowded areas, dog parks, or places where dogs gather.

Opt for quiet streets or secluded areas where your dog can enjoy a peaceful walk without the risk of exposure to other dogs.

Using a harness instead of a collar can also be beneficial during walks.

A harness distributes the pressure more evenly across your dog’s body and reduces strain on their neck and throat, which can be particularly sensitive during kennel cough.

Considerations for Outdoor Activities

When your dog has kennel cough, it is important to take extra precautions during outdoor activities to prevent the spread of the infection and protect their well-being.

Avoid crowded areas where your dog may come into close contact with other dogs. This includes dog parks, pet-friendly events, or areas where dogs are known to gather.

Keep a safe distance from other dogs and discourage interactions to minimize the risk of transmission.

Be mindful of potential sources of infection, such as shared water bowls, toys, or surfaces that may have been contaminated by infected dogs.

Avoid allowing your dog to sniff or come into contact with objects that may carry the bacteria or viruses responsible for kennel cough.

Maintain good hygiene practices by washing your hands thoroughly after handling or coming into contact with infected dogs.

Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s belongings, including their bedding, toys, and food bowls, to minimize the risk of reinfection.

Recovery Period

The recovery period for kennel cough can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the overall health of your dog.

In most cases, dogs with kennel cough start showing improvement within a week or two, with the cough gradually subsiding.

During the recovery period, it is important to monitor your dog’s progress closely.

If their symptoms worsen or if they develop new symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or loss of appetite, contact your veterinarian immediately.

As your dog starts to show signs of improvement, you can gradually increase their exercise and activity levels.

Start with short, low-intensity walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your dog’s condition improves.

However, it is essential to listen to your dog’s cues and adjust their activity level accordingly.

Boosting Your Dog’s Immune System

A strong immune system plays a crucial role in preventing and fighting off infections, including kennel cough.

To support your dog’s immune system, provide them with a balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients.

Ensure that your dog’s diet includes high-quality protein, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Consider adding immune-boosting supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, or herbal remedies, after consulting with your veterinarian.

Regular exercise, adequate rest, and minimizing stress can also contribute to a healthy immune system.

Provide your dog with a safe and secure environment, free from excessive noise, environmental toxins, and other stressors that can weaken their immune system.

Vaccination and Prevention

Vaccination is an essential preventive measure against kennel cough. The kennel cough vaccine is available in different forms, including injectable, intranasal, and oral.

Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your dog based on their lifestyle and risk of exposure.

While vaccination can reduce the severity of symptoms if your dog does contract kennel cough, it does not guarantee complete immunity.

However, it can help prevent the spread of the infection and reduce the risk of complications.

In addition to vaccination, practicing good hygiene and avoiding high-risk areas can further reduce the risk of kennel cough.

Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s belongings, avoid close contact with infected dogs, and encourage responsible pet ownership within your community.


While it may be tempting to take your dog for a walk even when they have kennel cough, it is important to prioritize their health and recovery.

Rest and isolation are crucial during this time, and it is best to consult your veterinarian for guidance.

By following the appropriate precautions and allowing your dog to recover fully, you can ensure their well-being and prevent the spread of kennel cough to other dogs in your community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I walk my dog with kennel cough if they are on medication?

If your dog has been prescribed medication for kennel cough by your veterinarian, it is important to follow their instructions carefully.

In some cases, medication may help alleviate symptoms and speed up the recovery process.

However, even if your dog is on medication, it is generally recommended to limit their exercise and avoid strenuous activities until they have fully recovered.

Can my dog get kennel cough again after recovering from it?

While it is possible for dogs to contract kennel cough more than once, it is less common.

Dogs who have had kennel cough in the past may have some level of immunity to the infection, but it does not guarantee complete protection.

Vaccination can help reduce the risk of reinfection and minimize the severity of symptoms if your dog does contract the infection again.

Can humans catch kennel cough from dogs?

Kennel cough is primarily a respiratory infection that affects dogs. However, in rare cases, it is possible for humans to contract a similar infection from dogs.

The risk of transmission to humans is generally low, especially if proper hygiene practices are followed.

It is important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling an infected dog and avoid close contact with their respiratory secretions to minimize the risk of transmission.

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