Can Dogs Get Kennel Cough From Cats? Treatment & Prevention (2024)

A Cocker Spaniel puppy and an orange kitten being held together by a vet.

If you notice your dog has a hacking cough that sounds like they have something stuck in their throat, that could be kennel cough, but how did the dog get it if they haven’t been around other dogs in months?

Could it be that your dog got kennel cough from a neighboring cat? 

Can dogs get kennel cough from cats? Yes, dogs can get kennel cough from cats. Kennel cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can affect both cats and dogs. The disease can be transmitted from animal to animal by casual contact and through the air via sneezing and coughing. 

What is there to know about kennel cough in dogs (and cats)? How do you prevent it? Find out more about this infectious bronchitis in pets and how to protect your dog from it. 

Understanding Kennel Cough

Although kennel cough does sound terrible, it is not a serious condition most of the time. Most dogs will also recover without treatment.

Still, it’s important to know everything about this highly infectious illness.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease caused by a number of bacteria and viruses – usually a combination of them.

Like chest infections in humans, kennel cough in dogs affects the respiratory system, causing persistent coughing. Thankfully, the infection is unlikely to make your pet  seriously ill. 

How Does Kennel Cough Spread?

Kennel cough in dogs spreads through airborne droplets from an infected animal. Direct contact between dogs, like sniffing and touching noses, can also lead to kennel cough passing from one dog to another.

Kennel cough also spreads among dogs through contaminated surfaces like kennels and food and water bowls.

It’s commonly contracted in places where many dogs are congregating, like dog parks, training groups, daycare facilities, dog shows, and grooming salons. 

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?

Yes. Just like dogs, cats can get kennel cough, although they are not likely to get infected with the disease the way dogs do.

They usually get it from direct contact with infected canines or when sharing food and water bowls.

Although it’s more rare in cats than in dogs, young kittens are more susceptible to contracting kennel cough than adult cats.

Even then, cats will likely develop minor symptoms and will recover quickly. In fact, coughing is very rare in cats. 

Can Cats Spread Kennel Cough to Dogs?

Yes, a cat with kennel cough can transmit the disease to a dog either by casual or direct contact. 

First Symptoms of Kennel Cough

In many cases, dogs with kennel cough usually appear healthy and well except for the coughing. It typically sounds like a forceful, hacking sound, often hoarse and dry.

In most cases, this coughing fit includes a gagging or swallowing motion, which may look like your dog has something stuck in his throat. 

Besides this cough-like sound, other common symptoms of kennel cough include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Swollen tonsils, usually from coughing
  • In very rare cases, symptoms may include loss of appetite, low fever, and lethargy.

Often, the hacking cough can persist for several weeks even after the infection is gone. 

Can I Catch Kennel Cough From My Dog?

Most bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough can’t be passed to humans.

However, the main bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica that affects cats and dogs can also infect humans, but this is incredibly rare and will usually only infect those with incredibly weak immune systems. 

A scruffy-looking dog coughing against a white background.

Can Dogs Catch Kennel Cough Twice?

Kennel cough in dogs is a lot like colds in humans. It has a variety of strains, and that means dogs can get kennel cough multiple times.

You can reduce the risks of your pet contracting the infection by giving him a kennel cough vaccine. 

Kennel Cough Treatment

Usually, mild cases of kennel cough in dogs are treated with rest for a week or two. However, mild clinical signs may linger for more weeks even after the bacteria have been eliminated.

Your veterinarian can help determine the best treatment for dogs with kennel cough. 

Kennel Cough Treatment Cost

The cost of treating kennel cough in dogs is usually related to examinations and the medication that the veterinarian prescribes.

In most cases, it ranges from $75 to $200 but may be $200 to $500 if the vet requires lab work and X-rays. 

Natural Kennel Cough Treatment

Common at-home and natural remedies for dogs with kennel cough include:

  • Honey – Honey has antibacterial properties that can help with kennel cough symptoms, like nasal discharge. 
  • Coconut Oil – This has incredible antiviral properties that may help dogs recover from kennel cough. 
  • Cinnamon – This common ingredient also has antiviral agents that can alleviate the dog’s coughing and help neutralize the infection. 
  • Lots of Water – If dogs have kennel cough, it’s especially important to keep them properly hydrated to help flush out the toxins and get rid of the virus faster. If not water, give them ice cubes or chicken broth to help. 

Kennel Cough Prevention

In the majority of cases, kennel cough in dogs is caused by Bordetella.

You can prevent the infection by making sure your dog is up to date with their Bordetella vaccine, especially if they frequent large canine groups. 

Related Questions: 

Can Dogs Get Upper Respiratory Infections From Cats?

Viruses that cause feline URIs or upper respiratory infections are highly infectious in cats but, thankfully, they are not contagious to dogs. 

Can a Cat Catch Cold From a Dog?

Yes, but this case is extremely rare. Cats and dogs can both catch a cold, but it is very unlikely that they would catch it from each other. 


Kennel cough may not be serious in most cases, but it spreads easily. Your dog can get it from another dog, but it’s also likely that a cat infected with Bordetella can pass the infection to your dog.