The best treatment for dogs with kennel cough is rest in a quiet, stress-free environment. Typically, their appetite is unaffected, and they should continue to eat their normal diet with free access to fresh water at all times. Young puppies can have mild to severe nasal congestion and may require more intensive treatment to loosen nasal secretions and ease breathing. When secondary bacterial pneumonia accompanies kennel cough, the dog may require hospitalization.
All cases of kennel cough should be managed by a veterinarian. Affected dogs should be kept away from other dogs so that they do not spread the disease. They should be housed indoors in a clean, warm, dry, well-ventilated and quiet environment. In many cases, a humidifier or vaporizer are helpful to reduce congestion; bringing the dog into the bathroom while the owner showers can be beneficial as well. Moderate exercise can help stimulate nasal and bronchial drainage, but strenuous activity should be avoided.
In addition to supportive care, antibiotics are commonly prescribed for dogs with kennel cough, especially if secondary infections develop. Cough suppressants can also help control bothersome coughing.
The prognosis for dogs with simple kennel cough is very good to excellent. Dogs with uncomplicated kennel cough typically recover even without treatment in about 10 to 14 days. Puppies or unvaccinated older dogs have a more guarded prognosis due to their immunocompromised status and increased risk of developing bronchopneumonia. Severe kennel cough with secondary infection may have a typical course ranging from 2 to 6 weeks. However, without treatment, they can die from complications involving multiple lung lobes.