If you’re a dog owner, you know how worrying it can be when your furry friend isn’t feeling their best. One common ailment that causes concern is kennel cough, especially when it seems to get worse at night.

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It manifests through a persistent, honking cough that can be quite distressing for both dogs and their owners.

The condition is typically caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses, with Bordetella bronchiseptica being one of the primary culprits.

Understanding how kennel cough progresses and why it might seem worse at night is crucial for managing your dog’s health effectively. Nighttime symptoms can disrupt your pet’s rest and recovery, making it essential to know how to alleviate their discomfort.



Dogs with kennel cough typically exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Persistent, dry cough
  • Gagging or retching
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite

The cough can be more pronounced at night, possibly due to several factors discussed below.

Does Kennel Cough Get Worse at Night?

Several reasons might explain why kennel cough symptoms appear to worsen at night. When dogs lie down, mucus can accumulate in their throat, causing more frequent coughing.

Additionally, cooler nighttime air can irritate their respiratory tract, leading to increased coughing. The quiet environment at night also means there are fewer distractions, making it easier for owners to notice their dog’s discomfort.

Expert Opinions:

Veterinarians often note that the recumbent position dogs adopt while sleeping can exacerbate coughing.

“the gravitational pull when a dog is lying down can lead to mucus pooling in the throat, which triggers more frequent coughing fits.”

Dr. Xeeshan, a veterinary specialist

How to Manage Nighttime Kennel Cough Symptoms

Environmental Adjustments:

Creating a comfortable sleeping environment for your dog can significantly alleviate symptoms. Consider the following tips:

  • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist, which can soothe your dog’s irritated airways.
  • Ensure your dog sleeps on a slightly elevated surface to prevent mucus from pooling in their throat.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature to avoid any cold air that might aggravate their cough.

Home Remedies:

There are several safe, vet-approved home remedies that can help manage your dog’s nighttime cough:

  • Honey: A teaspoon of honey can coat and soothe your dog’s throat, reducing irritation.
  • Herbal teas: Chamomile or licorice root tea, in small amounts, can have a calming effect.
  • Steam: Allowing your dog to breathe in

steam from a hot shower can help loosen mucus and ease breathing.

When to See a Vet:

While home care can be effective, it’s important to know when to seek professional help. Contact your veterinarian if:

  • Your dog’s cough persists for more than a week.
  • There is a discharge of blood or yellow/green mucus.
  • Your dog shows signs of difficulty breathing or severe lethargy.
  • The cough is accompanied by a high fever or loss of appetite.

Early intervention can prevent complications and ensure your dog recovers quickly.

Treatment Options for Kennel Cough


When it comes to managing kennel cough, veterinarians often prescribe a variety of medications based on the severity of the symptoms. Common treatments include:

  • Antibiotics: These are prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected to be contributing to the cough. Bordetella bronchiseptica, a common cause of kennel cough, is a bacterium that responds well to antibiotics like cefpodoxime, clavamox, doxycycline or amoxicillin.
  • Cough Suppressants: To help manage severe coughing, vets might recommend cough suppressants such as hydrocodone or butorphanol. These should only be used under veterinary supervision to avoid complications.
  • Bronchodilators: In cases where the cough is causing breathing difficulties, bronchodilators can help open up the airways, making it easier for your dog to breathe.

Home Care Tips:

Alongside medication, there are several home care strategies that can aid in your dog’s recovery:

  • Rest: Ensure your dog gets plenty of rest to help their immune system fight off the infection.
  • Hydration: Keep your dog well-hydrated. Fresh water should be available at all times, and you can also offer ice cubes to soothe their throat.
  • Nutritious Diet: Feed your dog a balanced diet to support their overall health. Soft foods may be easier for them to eat if their throat is sore.
  • Avoid Irritants: Keep your dog away from smoke, dust, and other potential irritants that could worsen their cough.

Prevention of Kennel Cough


One of the most effective ways to prevent kennel cough is through vaccination. There are vaccines available for the main pathogens that cause kennel cough, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine adenovirus type 2.

These vaccines are typically administered as an injection, nasal spray, or oral dose. Regular vaccination is recommended, especially for dogs that frequently interact with other dogs in places like kennels, dog parks, or grooming salons.

Hygiene Practices:

Maintaining good hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of kennel cough spreading. Here are some tips:

  • Clean Living Spaces: Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s living area, including their bedding, toys, and bowls.
  • Avoid Crowded Spaces: Minimize your dog’s exposure to crowded places where infections can easily spread.
  • Healthy Socialization: Ensure that any dogs your pet interacts with are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Quarantine New Pets: If you bring a new dog into your home, keep them separated from your other pets until you’re sure they’re not carrying any infectious diseases.

By following these preventive measures and treatment options, you can help ensure your dog stays healthy and recovers quickly if they do contract kennel cough.


What causes kennel cough to worsen at night?

Nighttime symptoms can intensify due to factors like lying down, which allows mucus to pool in the throat, cooler air irritating the respiratory tract, and fewer distractions making the coughing more noticeable.

Can kennel cough be cured with home remedies alone?

While home remedies can provide relief and comfort, they are not a substitute for professional veterinary care, which is essential for a full recovery.

How long does kennel cough typically last?

The duration of kennel cough can vary, but it typically lasts between one to three weeks. Factors such as the dog’s overall health and the presence of secondary infections can influence recovery time.

Is kennel cough contagious to other pets?

Yes, kennel cough is highly contagious to other dogs and can occasionally spread to other pets. It’s crucial to isolate the affected dog and maintain good hygiene practices to prevent transmission.

What are the warning signs that kennel cough is becoming serious?

Warning signs include prolonged coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and a high fever. If you observe any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.

Categories: Kennel Cough


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