Natural Remedies For Kennel Cough in Dogs 

Kennel cough is relatively common in the canine world but its name is slightly misleading.  For decades it was associated with kennels and many owners thought that if their dog never went to kennels, it wasn’t a risk for them.  The reason it’s common in kennels is because dogs are in such close proximity to each other and so it spreads like wildfire!

But any dog can suffer with Kennel Cough, or more technically canine infectious respiratory disease.  For the most part, healthy dogs recover without issue – but it can be more of a worry for puppies or older dogs.

Let’s take a look at it in a little more detail, and we’ll share some of our favourite remedies.

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) is an acute, highly contagious disease complex caused by a variety of infectious agents.

CIRD is characterised by an acute onset of mild to severe episodes of a dry cough and nasal discharge.

Due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, dogs living in crowded conditions, such as shelters and day care centres, are especially susceptible to infection.

Most dogs with CIRD recover spontaneously within days to weeks unless complicating factors occur, such as lower respiratory tract involvement or severe secondary infections.

A variety of viral and bacterial agents have been detected in dogs with CIRD.

The commonly reported pathogens include:

  • Canine distemper virus (CDV)
  • Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2)
  • Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV)
  • Canine herpesvirus-1 (CHV)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica

Can I Vaccinate Against It?

Yes you can, but one study demonstrated that 43.3% of all dogs with CIRD and 60.9% of CPIV positive dogs with CIRD had a history of parenteral vaccination against CPIV.

Since the time between vaccination and the onset of clinical CIRD was not documented, it was not clear whether the dogs developed clinical CPIV due to an insufficient immune response following vaccination or if some dogs tested positive for a vaccination strain of CPIV. After-all, it has been suggested that dogs vaccinated with a modified live CPIV vaccine could shed the virus for some time after vaccination.

Can I Prevent My Dog Catching It?

CIRD is an attack on the immune system.  The pathogens hijack many defences which results in the symptoms we recognise.

So, a well-functioning immune system is the first part of your dog’s defence against kennel cough.

Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.  Vitamin C helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection.

Foods Containing Vitamin C:

  • Blueberries
  • Seaweed
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin

Vitamin A helps maintain structural and functional integrity of mucosal cells in innate barriers (skin, respiratory tract etc).  It is also important for the functioning of natural killer cells, macrophages, and neutrophils.  In the adaptive immune response, vitamin A is necessary for the functioning of T and B cells and therefore for the generation of antibody responses to an antigen.

Sources of Vitamin A Include:

  • Liver
  • Fish Oil
  • Egg Yolks

In the innate immune system, vitamin B6 helps regulate inflammation and has roles in cytokine production and natural killer cell activity.  In the adaptive immunity system, vitamin B6 plays a role in the metabolism of amino acids, which are the building blocks of cytokines and antibodies.  B6 is also involved in lymphocyte proliferation, differentiation and maturation and it maintains Th1 immune responses.

Sources of Vitamin B6 include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Organ Meats

Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones is a great option and contains gelatin, chondroitin and other nutrients that are helpful in gut healing in immune function.

Zinc is a particular powerhouse when it comes to immune function.  It has antioxidant effects protecting against reactive oxygen species, it helps modulate cytokine release and also helps maintain skin and mucosal membrane integrity (that first line of defence).  In the adaptive immune response, zinc has a central role in cellular growth and differentiation of immune cells.  It plays a role in T cell development and activation and supports the Th1 response.

Sources of Zinc Include:

  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Fish

We find vitamin D receptors throughout the immune system which demonstrates the role it plays in its function.  Vitamin D stimulates immune cell proliferation and cytokine production, and it helps protect against infection caused by pathogens.  It also demonstrates an inhibitory effect in adaptive immunity, suggesting that it is in fact an immune modulator.  This is often why we notice increased cases of autoimmunity where there is low vitamin D.

Sources of Vitamin D Include:

  • Liver
  • Fish
  • Egg Yolks
  • Mushrooms

We can also feed a range of foods to support overall immune function.  To learn more check out our blog here:

10 Top Foods For Your Dog’s Immunity

What Happens if My Dog Gets Kennel Cough?

If your dog is generally healthy, it is usually self-limiting, but if you are concerned it is best to seek vet advice.

We do have some tried and tested remedies which can usually help too.


Chamomile is widely used to treat inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes, and for various bacterial infections of the skin, oral cavity and gums, and respiratory tract.  Tincture or tea is generally better tolerated by dogs.


Manuka honey possesses soothing properties along with functioning as an:

  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial

There is increasing evidence that it inhibits a range of pathogens.

Findings Here

It also disperses and kills bacteria living in biofilms, those matrixes that adhere to wounds, teeth, and mucosal surfaces.

Slippery Elm Gruel and Colloidal Silver

Silver is recognized to have antimicrobial activity.  There are three main ways in which it achieves this.

Firstly, silver cations can form pores and puncture the bacterial cell wall by reacting with the peptidoglycan component.

Secondly, silver ions can enter into the bacterial cell, both inhibiting cellular respiration and disrupting metabolic pathways resulting in generation of reactive oxygen species.

Lastly, once in the cell silver can also disrupt DNA and its replication cycle.

We have used a slippery elm gruel combined with colloidal silver many times in tackling kennel cough in dogs.

Prevention is better than cure when we’re looking at kennel cough in dogs – so support immune function from the ground (and gut) up!

  • Feed a fresh food diet
  • Limit toxin exposure
  • Offer filtered water
  • Offer nutrient dense foods
  • Support digestive health
  • Offer enrichment activities
  • Provide regular exercise
  • Ensure sufficient rest and recovery

If you would like any guidance on supporting your dog’s overall health, check out our services to see how we can help.

Thanks for reading,

MPN Team

Keep up to date

Subscribe to our newsletter for recipes, DIY products, health solutions and more.

You have been successfully Subscribed! Ops! Something went wrong, please try again.

Customer Reviews

Related articles