Can Humans Get Kennel Cough? Understanding the Possible Risks! (2024)

A man coughing into his fist while sitting on his couch besides his dog.

Kennel cough is also called bordetella. It is a respiratory illness that commonly affects dogs, particularly those who are groomed by a professional or are boarded at a kennel.

It is highly contagious and can quickly spread through kennels, thus its name. It can be treated and prevented with vaccinations. 

Is kennel cough contagious to humans? Humans can catch kennel cough and can even pass it to other dogs. Kennel cough or bordetella is a zoonotic virus, and while it is rare for humans to contract this type of illness, it is possible and could be dangerous for anyone with a low immune system. 

If you think your dog may have kennel cough and you are worried about it spreading the illness to other pets or people in your family, read on to learn more about it.

Kennel Cough – How Contagious Is It?

Kennel cough is extremely contagious. It is an airborne disease, so it spreads through the air. In a kennel or home where dogs are not vaccinated, it will likely infect every dog. 

What Kennel Cough Is

Kennel cough is a respiratory illness that affects dogs. It is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica.

When dogs contract these bacteria they are often already infected with a common canine virus that has weakened the immune system and made them more susceptible to the bacteria. 

How Dogs Get Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is spread among unvaccinated dogs. If your dog is unvaccinated and is exposed to a dog who has kennel cough, your dog will likely contract it.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?

Kennel cough can last a few days or a few weeks. Dogs that have weak immune systems are more likely to suffer more severe and long-term symptoms.

Is Kennel Cough Dangerous?

Kennel cough is generally not dangerous to dogs who are otherwise healthy.

Most dogs do not require treatment for kennel cough, but puppies, elderly dogs, or dogs who have compromised immune systems or other health problems may need veterinary care. 

Kennel Cough Contagious Period

Kennel cough is contagious within the first 14 days but is the most contagious during the first seven days.

Can Humans Catch Kennel Cough?

Humans can catch kennel cough, but it is rare. Babies, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system are the most at risk for catching it. 

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Humans

Symptoms of kennel cough in humans are similar to that of the common cold. They can include:

  • Sore throat.
  • Persistent cough.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Can Kennel Cough Be Spread by Humans?

Humans can spread kennel cough to other humans and to dogs. Since it is rare for humans to contract kennel cough, they are not the most common cause of kennel cough outbreaks.

Can Humans Carry Kennel Cough on Their Clothes?

Kennel cough is spread by fluid droplets that are coughed or sneezed.

While the bacteria that cause kennel cough cannot survive long outside the body, there is a possibility it could be spread on clothing. 

Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Cats?

Cats can contract kennel cough. If another animal or a human in the house has the illness, they may spread it to cats.

Special precautions should be implemented to prevent the spread.

Kennel Cough Vaccine Effectiveness

A scared black-and-tan Dachshund being held by a vet.

Kennel cough can be prevented with a vaccine. There are two types of kennel cough vaccine. One is administered through the nose, and the other is injected.

The intranasal vaccine begins working immediately, but the injectable vaccine takes up to five days to start working.

During these five days, a dog may still be able to become sick with kennel cough and spread it to others. Both versions of the vaccine are only about 60% effective. 

Pros and Cons of Kennel Cough Vaccine

There are both pros and cons of the kennel cough vaccine. It is important to be aware of them so you can decide if this vaccine is right for your dog.


  • Protects against kennel cough.
  • It can be administered at an early age.
  • Allows for safe boarding in kennels.


  • Not always necessary.
  • Side effects can be more dangerous than the illness.
  • Can cause pneumonia.
  • It is a live vaccine and can spread the illness.

Related Questions:

Is Distemper Contagious to Humans?

Distemper is very similar to the measles virus in humans. Because the two are so similar, it is possible for humans to contract the virus that causes distemper.

The virus can replicate inside the human body, but it does not cause any illness or symptoms.

Can Cats Get Parvo From Dogs?

Parvo is highly contagious among dogs, but canine parvo is not passed from dogs to cats. Cats can contract a different version of the virus called Feline Parvo.


Kennel cough is a common illness that affects dogs. While kennel cough is not usually dangerous, there is always a chance that it can affect young puppies, older dogs, or dogs with weakened immune systems more severely.

Vaccinations are available to help reduce the risk of a dog developing the illness.

If you are worried about your dog becoming ill from kennel cough, be sure to speak with your vet to find out if a vaccine is the right option for your dog.