Can I Walk My Dog With Kennel Cough? What You Need to Know

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Author: Jacob Kay

Kennel cough is a common and unpleasant condition that affects many dogs. It is a respiratory infection that causes a dry hacking cough in dogs, similar to a human cold. It is highly contagious and can spread through airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces. In this article, we will answer the question: can I walk my dog with kennel cough? We will also explain how to treat and prevent kennel cough, and how to keep your dog entertained at home.

dog having kennel cough

Key Takeaways

  • Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that causes a dry hacking cough in dogs. It is highly contagious and can spread through airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces.
  • You should not walk your dog with kennel cough, as it can worsen the symptoms, prolong the recovery time, and infect other dogs in public places.
  • You can treat and prevent kennel cough by consulting a veterinarian, seeking medication advice, and vaccinating your dog against the Bordetella bacterium, which is the most common agent to cause kennel cough.
  • You can keep your dog entertained at home by engaging him in moderate activities and puzzle games, rewarding him with healthy treats, and giving him lots of love and care.

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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough also known as canine infectious respiratory disease(CIRD) is a respiratory infection that causes a dry hacking cough. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It results from inflammation of the trachea and if not treated properly may progress to pneumonia.

This disease spreads rapidly among dogs gathered in small confinement like parks, group training or daycare facilities through airborne droplets, direct contact or contact via contaminated surfaces. Generally, small puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with low immunity or any pre-existing conditions are at high risk.

Stress, cold temperatures, and exposure to smoke or dust are some factors that increase the chances of a dog catching the cough. Along with that as the name suggests, the chances of catching a kennel cough are very high at a kennel. It can be transmitted by playing with an infected dog, following the same path as that of an infected dog or sharing the common water/food bowl at parks.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The name implies the main symptom of kennel cough which is coughing. A strong and dry cough with a honking sound, which feels as if your dog is trying to clear his throat. Kennel cough has an incubation period of 3-14 days, so it’s likely that your dog has been carrying the virus for a few days before showing symptoms.[1]

dog having kennel cough

Other symptoms may include:

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • low fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lower energy levels
  • discharge from eyes

However, healthy dogs are rarely infected with kennel cough since they have stronger immunity. The infection itself is mild in such dogs. Also, for dogs infected with kennel cough, it isn’t too serious. According to Dr Brad Bennett, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, “Although the coughing caused by kennel cough may sound awful, the disease is not considered serious.

Can I Walk My Dog With Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a contagious disease which spreads easily from one dog to the other through direct as well as indirect contact. Hence, it increases the risk of bacteria transmission, so the question arises, can I walk my dog with kennel cough? It is better that the dog stays at home. If you notice your dog coughing or exhibiting other symptoms, it’s best to keep him isolated to prevent the disease from spreading further.

When your dog coughs, sneezes, or sniffs, he releases respiratory droplets that can spread the disease to other dogs. Thus, keeping your dog at home until he fully recovers is advisable. If your dog is severely infected, it is better to isolate him for 2-3 weeks, even after the symptoms disappear, to ensure he does not spread the virus to other dogs.

You can use the isolation time to shop for the best dog walking bag uk to take your dog on walks once he has fully recovered. A good dog walking bag allows you to carry all your dog’s essentials while keeping your hands free during the walk.

Additional Care During Kennel Cough

Just like humans, dogs too need rest to recover from illness. Hence, resting from daily exercise can make the dog feel better. Walking during this time can actually prolong their recovery, so keeping them settled at home is best. Remember, you should not leave your dog alone. Fighting against the disease, he requires your support, love, care and healthy nutritious food.

Moreover, when you take your dog on a walk, it is necessary for him to wear a collar on the neck. This can cause more irritation and inflammation in the throat, potentially worsening the symptoms of kennel cough. Therefore, it is better to avoid collars and ultimately outdoor walks when suffering from the disease.

If you have a personal garden, it’s fine to let your dog wander around, but it is also important not to engage him in vigorous activities such as running. During kennel cough, breathing may already be problematic for your dog and he may struggle to catch his breath after such activities. Remember to put on a harness if needed, not a collar. Collars can be a threat to your infected dog.

Activities to do at Home

Regular exercise is important for your dog, though he is sick. While your dog cannot walk outside, he can try some moderate activities at home to keep up his gentle fitness routine. It would also increase the bonding and emotionality between you and your furry companion.

activities for dogs during isolation

Some dogs feel restless if they don’t get outdoor walks and therefore it is important to keep them mentally stimulated by engaging in activities. One way to engage your furry friend is by playing puzzle games or creating DIY toys for them. Also, playing hide and seek with your dog and rewarding him with a tasty yet healthy treat for each win can be a great activity.

Setting up cavaletti is another great option to try at home. You need to arrange wooden polls on the floor and your dog will have the best time indoors. It is a great form of exercise having various benefits[2]. Apart from these fun activities, you must take care of your dog and feed him nutritious food.

Treatment and Prevention

Mild cases of kennel cough get treated within 2-3 weeks. Healthy dogs do not require medication, a few days of isolation works perfectly fine for them. However, you should first consult a veterinarian and seek medication advice. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary to prevent a secondary infection like pneumonia and get relief from other symptoms too.

treatment during kennel cough

Precaution is always better than cure! Kennel cough is a contagious disease, very common among domestic dogs. A vaccine is available for the Bordetella bacterium, which is the most common agent to cause kennel cough.[3] Dogs who take advantage of daycare facilities, often visit public parks or are exposed to other groups of dogs will surely benefit from this vaccine.

After your dog recovers and can go on walks again, don’t be surprised if dog zoomies after walk and run around excitedly when you return home. This is completely normal dog behavior after being cooped up indoors.


How long should my dog stay home with kennel cough?

In general, dogs who have kennel cough are no longer contagious after 10-14 days. This window can be shortened if antibiotics are used to treat the bacterial infection.

What can I feed my dog with kennel cough?

Good food choices are boiled chicken, boiled hamburger, or cooked rice. The food should not be seasoned or cooked with fat. Healthy and nutritious food is what your dog needs for recovery.

What to avoid when your dog has kennel cough?

While your dog is home recovering from kennel cough, make sure to avoid irritants such as household cleaners, cigarette smoke, and dust. These things can cause more irritation and prolong your dog’s recovery. Do not use a collar and leash if your dog has a kennel cough or is recovering.


Can I walk my dog with kennel cough? The answer is definitely no! Being an infectious disease, other dogs may get infected through the transmission of bacteria. It is better to keep your dog at home and get him some rest. This will benefit him in curing quickly.

If your dog is coughing or showing any other symptoms, you should consult a vet. Other fatal diseases have the common symptoms as that of kennel cough. Thus, you should always seek expert advice for the betterment of your dog.

Need an alternative to walks during your dog’s kennel cough recovery? Hiring a dog walker can give your pup exercise without the risk of infecting others. When choosing a walker, inquire about how much do dog walkers charge?


  1. Thrusfield, M., Aitken, C., & Muirhead, R. H. (1991). A field investigation of kennel cough: Incubation period and clinical signs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
  2. Ccrp, D. L. M. M. D. D. D. (2020, April 27). Physical rehabilitation: Improving the outcome in dogs with orthopedic problems. DVM 360.
  3. Veterinary Medicines Directorate. (2020). Table of authorised dog vaccines in the UK. GOV.UK.
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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