Home Treatments for Kennel Cough

Address your dog's kennel cough with these at-home therapeutic options.

Updated February 3, 2023
Vet using stethoscope on a dog

Kennel cough can be uncomfortable, and it's often equally distressing for you to watch your dog or puppy experience it. A case of kennel cough can last anywhere from one to three weeks. Use these tips to make your dog more comfortable and ease the symptoms homeopathically until the illness passes.

Recognizing Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is basically an upper respiratory infection. Several airborne viruses or bacteria can cause the condition, so it's not surprising that so many dogs will experience a round of it at some point in their lives. The typical case of simple kennel cough lasts anywhere from one to three weeks and usually requires little to no medical treatment. Symptoms of kennel cough can include:

  • Intermittent coughing that increases at night
  • Coughing triggered by exercise
  • Coughing is dry and does not produce mucus or phlegm
  • Kennel cough has a distinct "honking" sound
  • Runny eyes

If the kennel cough worsens and you see your dog coughing up mucus at the end of a coughing spasm along with nasal discharge, this may indicate the infection has developed into pneumonia.

Kennel Cough in Puppies and Adult Dogs

While kennel cough is fairly common among all ages of dogs, cases of kennel cough in very young puppies and senior dogs with compromised immune systems can be more serious, as their bodies are not strong enough to fight off the infection.

As a result, you may find it taking longer than average for the disease to run its course and may linger for up to six weeks. These cases generally require more aggressive supportive care, including antibiotics.

Fast Fact

Always see your veterinarian if you worry your puppy or older dog may have kennel cough because the infection can be much more severe in these dogs.

Natural Home Treatments for Kennel Cough

While there are home treatments you can use to make your dog feel better, it's always critical to check with your veterinarian first. A simple case of coughing that seems like kennel cough can sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Conventional Home Treatments

Just as when children have a cold, some pet parents prefer to let a simple case of kennel cough run its course while they provide comfort and relief for their dog at home. Basic home treatment for kennel cough includes:

  • Keeping your dog warm, quiet, and free from drafts.
  • Removing your dog's collar to prevent excessive coughing stimulation.
  • Encouraging your dog to drink plenty of fresh water.
  • Providing wet food, just in case your dog's throat is sore and irritated.

Home Vaporizing Treatment

Steam treatments can be a valuable aid in the fight against a respiratory infection. You can create your own temporary vaporizing treatment by running your shower on its hottest setting and letting steam build up with the bathroom door closed. Once there is good water vapor built up in the room, bring your dog in and let them breathe in the steam for a good 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you stay with your dog to supervise them.

The steam actually helps loosen the phlegm clogging your dog's airways and soothes the inflamed tissues. As a result, your dog is able to bring up more phlegm when they cough, and phlegm removal is essential to help them feel better. Be sure to towel off your dog very well to prevent them from becoming chilled after the steam treatment.

Dog wrapped in towel by shower

Soothing Botanicals

There are a number of homeopathic remedies that many owners choose to use as a home treatment for kennel cough. These products are designed to support your dog's immune system and enable it to fight off the infection on its own. Although each product has its own unique formula, there are a few botanical ingredients that appear time and again on various labels. Be sure to confirm with your vet before giving your dog any new supplements to ensure it's safe for them.

  • Plantago lanceolata: Plantago is a well-known herbal remedy in the homeopathic community. It's an all-around cough treatment that acts as an expectorant to help your dog cough up the mucous, as well as an anti-catarrhal to prevent mucus production. This eases inflammation of the bronchial tubes and provides your dog with a measure of relief.
  • Echinacea purpurea: Echinacea is regarded as an immune system booster that fortifies the body's fight against the cold and flu. Furthermore, it can provide additional support to the immune system after an infection until your dog is 100% recovered.
  • Bryonia C6: Bryonia works double duty to moisturize irritated mucous membranes as well as clear mucus out of the system.
  • Carbo vegetabilis: This is a good choice for dogs who have a harder time at night when it's difficult to sleep, and you may notice that breathing becomes more distressing.
  • Drosera rotundifolia: This remedy is used for coughing spasms and is an excellent first choice for kennel cough. It can help reduce the pain from the spasms, and it's also helpful for dogs with increased coughing at night.

Homeopathic Remedies

One of the easiest ways to provide your dog with home treatment is to purchase an over-the-counter homeopathic kennel cough medicine that's already formulated. Respiratory remedies that can also provide some relief for kennel cough symptoms include:

  • KC Defense - This remedy is designed to relieve a hacking cough and clear congestion for easier breathing.
  • Primalix KC - This is an herbal extract formula for kennel cough.
  • Respo-K - This formula is designed to bring relief for respiratory infections, open up airways to make breathing easier, and boost the immune system.
  • Newton Homeopathics Cough~Airway - This remedy is formulated to relieve coughing and ease breathing.
  • HomeoPet Nose Relief - Although this remedy isn't specifically sold for kennel cough, its combination of all-natural ingredients is formulated to relieve the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

It's important to understand that many homeopathic remedies will not improve your dog's symptoms immediately like conventional medications are designed to do. However, you should begin to see improvement over several days as the remedy builds up in your dog's system with repeated doses. Make sure you follow the directions on the label of any remedy you choose to try.

Dietary Supplements

There are several food items you can add to your dog's regular meals that can help boost their immunity to fight off the infection.

  • Garlic-infused olive oil may help your dog to get better faster. The use of garlic is controversial because many veterinary experts believe garlic is toxic to dogs. However, some homeopathic veterinarians recommend using it in small amounts. All you need to do for this treatment is place some peeled garlic cloves, whole or chopped, into a sealed jar with a few drops of olive oil and let sit for a day. Add some drops to your dog's kibble or canned food.
  • Coconut oil is an excellent antiviral agent. You can place about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil into your dog's food once a day. An additional benefit of coconut oil is that it can entice a sick dog with a sore throat and a poor appetite to eat.
  • Cinnamon is also an antiviral food that your dog can safely eat. You can add up to a half teaspoon of cinnamon to your dog's meals. Just make sure your dog doesn't inhale the spice powder.
  • Raw honey is also good for dogs with sore throats and excessive coughing. You can give a half to 1 full tablespoon up to three times per day. You can mix it in their food, let them lick it off a spoon, or mix it with some water and pour into a small bowl. However, it's not safe to give your dog honey if they're overweight, diabetic, or is a puppy.
  • Probiotics can help to remove disease-causing bacteria. Most veterinarians will prescribe probiotics at the same time as antibiotics to help replenish your dog's good gut bacteria.
Quick Tip

Low-sodium chicken or beef broth mixed with water can help promote hydration and provide your dog with extra protein and nutrients to help them fight off kennel cough.

Environmental Conditions

It's also very important that your dog's surrounding environment is healthy to help them recover successfully from kennel cough.

  • Keep your dog away from damp floors.
  • Refrain from smoking in the house.
  • Scrupulously clean the areas your dog comes in contact with the most to limit their exposure to germs.
  • Clean off your furnace or air conditioner filter to remove more dust from the air.
  • Frequently clean and refresh food and water bowls.
  • Wash all toys in hot soapy water and rinse well.
  • Add a humidifier to the room your dog sleeps in to help them at night when coughing can be worse.
Humidifier and plants

Other Dogs in the Home

Kennel cough is highly infectious, so if one of your dogs develops an infection, any other dogs you may have are also likely to get the virus. To help prevent a spread of the infection:

  • Isolate your sick dog from the others in a separate room and do not let them interact or sniff each other, even under the door.
  • Feed and water them from their own bowls, and don't allow your other dogs access.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after every encounter with the sick dog. It's also wise to change your clothes.

Use Your Judgment

You are more attuned to your dog's health than anyone else. If your dog appears to have any type of illness, it is up to you to judge whether a trip to the vet is in order. While kennel cough can go away on its own, your dog could potentially have a different condition that requires professional medical intervention. A visit to the vet is often well worth the trip. Your vet can confirm or rule out that your pet has a viral respiratory infection and test for the presence of other respiratory bugs. A vet may prescribe antibiotics in order to treat a secondary bacterial infection or prevent one from developing. They may also recommend a bronchodilator to help open the airways or cough suppressant medication. Use your best judgment to make sure your dog gets the help they need, and don't forget to give them plenty of TLC while they recover.

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Home Treatments for Kennel Cough