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Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Kennel Cough (Bordetella)

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterial agent that, along with several viruses, contributes to Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, or "Kennel Cough" disease.

This infection is very contagious between dogs and can be transmitted through the air, especially in areas where there are many pets in close proximity, hence the name "Kennel Cough". Despite popular association with dogs, cats can also contract Bordetella. In some very rare cases Bordetella can be infectious to people with compromised immune systems and infants.

Fortunately, you can take preventive measures by staying on top of vaccinations available at your veterinary hospital.



Tracheobronchitis is an infection of the trachea (windpipe) and lower respiratory passages, or bronchi. The disease may also affect the upper respiratory tract, causing a nasal or sinus infection. Occasionally, this disease can lead to pneumonia, especially in weakened or elderly pets.

Common signs of Tracheobronchitis include:

  • Coughing, or a cough/gag/retch that may produce a small amount of saliva
  • Normal barking sounds may also be changed
  • The cough can be mild and occasional to constant, deep, and hacking

Diagnosis and Treatment


Diagnosis is based on history, symptoms, examination findings, response to treatment, and sometimes blood tests or x-rays. Treatment usually consists of antibiotic therapy. Cough suppressants, medications to expand the airways, and anti-inflammatories may be needed as well.

Preventing Tracheobronchitis in Dogs and Cats

  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Monitor your pet's progress carefully and have him/her rechecked as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Separate any ill pets from others. Use separate feeding, bedding, and rooming items.
  • Wash your hands after handling to reduce the chance of disease transmission.
  • Make sure that your cat or dog’s vaccinations are up to date, as this is the best method for prevention.

Learn More


For more information about health conditions impacting your pet’s respiratory system, please read the articles below. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Banfield veterinarian today.

Did you know?


Banfield’s Optimum Wellness Plans for cats and dogs help you stay on top of routinely recommended vaccinations.

Learn more about protecting your pet by visiting our Optimum Wellness Plan page today.