Don't drink the water! How to protect your dog from kennel cough

dog health, dogs, kennel cough, water -

Don't drink the water! How to protect your dog from kennel cough

Sometimes when we are out and about with our dog we may spot water bowls which have been left out for them by shops, café owners – sometimes even residents in tourist destinations, but some vets are warning that it could be dangerous to let our dogs drink from these bowls in areas with large amounts of visitors as they might develop kennel cough from using them.

Kennel cough is highly contagious and can prove fatal and public or shared water bowls could actually be hazardous to your dog’s health.

Talking about the danger of shared drinking bowls, veterinary surgeon Kathleen Pohl said: 

“If your dog is at risk and you are aware of a local outbreak, it would be sensible to avoid locations where your dog might have close contact with others such as busy parks, day care or shared public water and food bowls.” 

Hot dogs photo by Annie Spratt on UnsplashHot dogs photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What is Kennel Cough?

Café owners may well have good intentions by putting out a water bowl for your pooch, it may not be the best idea to let your dog drink from it – although it is important to keep them hydrated, so what can you do instead?

Speaking about the disease, Kathleen said: 

“Kennel cough is very infectious and can spread both in the environment and the air. It is also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis and is an upper respiratory tract infection that can be caused by many different bacteria and viruses.

“Due to this, we do often see outbreaks in cases in local areas, as dogs can pick it up very easily in the park or local dog shows, or in areas where they might mix with other dogs such as day-care and kennels.”

She added: "Due to the range in possible causes of kennel cough, the symptoms can also vary, sometimes just causing a nasty cough, but in other instances progressing to a fever, appetite loss and breathing difficulties. 

“There is a vaccine that can protect against some of the infections that cause severe symptoms, however some viruses that cause kennel cough cannot be protected for due to their rapid mutation.

“In these cases, the infections typically resolve by themselves, but sometimes animals will need treatments such as anti-inflammatories to help them feel better while they are affected.

“Older animals or animals with other underlying health conditions may be more at risk of developing severe disease and these cases can progress to pneumonia, which can be fatal.”

Most healthy dogs will make a full recovery from kennel cough without help, but dogs who catch it can  be unwell for several weeks, and pass the infection on to other dogs. Because it is so contagious, spreads rapidly and can harm other old or infirm dogs, it's a good idea to get you dog vaccinated to protect themselves and other pets.

Frenchie photo by Karsten Winegeart on UnsplashFrenchie photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Signs of Kennel Cough

If you are concerned that your dog may have kennel cough, the main sign of this infectious tracheobronchitis is a forceful hacking cough, which could sound like they are retching, or attempting to dislodge something that is stuck in the back of their throat.

If your dog has already had kennel cough, unfortunately this does not mean that they have future immunity. Just like flu in humans, there are many strains of kennel cough, which means that your dog could potentially catch the disease multiple times throughout their life. However, as with flu there is a vaccine which protects them from known variations from kennel cough and this will reduce their chances of getting sick, although it won’t protect them completely.

The kennel cough vaccination is not a ‘core’ vaccination, so it is not included in your dog’s annual booster but because it can spread so rapidly, in places where dogs gather then places like dog groomers, boarding kennels and doggy daycare centres often require visiting dogs to be vaccinated against kennel cough as they  can be contagious for up to 3 weeks, even if they aren’t coughing any more.

Big dog photo by Rosalie Lyons on UnsplashBig dog photo by Rosalie Lyons on Unsplash

Alternative hydration

Of course it is still important to make sure that your dog is hydrated when you are out and about so what can you do to make sure they have fresh water without putting them at risk?

If you’re walking in the countryside then letting them drink from rivers or streams, with fresh flowing water is fine as long as they are not deep or the current is not too strong and they are not in danger. Or you can carry a water bottle and folding water bowl with you for your dog to drink from. Personally I know my dog will ALWAYS turn his nose up at public drinking bowls even on a hot day so you may find if your dog does this too that the chances of catching kennel cough are reduced, but do keep an eye on them just in case. Has your dog had kennel cough – and do you have any tips for keeping them hydrated when you’re on the move? As always, let us know in the comments section below. 

Main photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash


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