Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Humans?

Kennel cough, sometimes referred to as canine infectious respiratory disease, is an upper respiratory condition that can quickly spread between dogs, cats, and other small animals in the same vicinity—hence the name. Simply being in the same room or sharing the same chew toy can send an otherwise healthy dog into an extremely uncomfortable coughing fit. However, the chances of you or other humans catching the cough are extremely unlikely—though not impossible.

Signs of kennel cough in animals can include persistent coughing, sneezing, runny noses, eye discharge, lack of appetite, decreased energy levels, and more.   

Can humans catch kennel cough?

Like the common cold, there are various strands of kennel cough. These mutations can cause slightly different symptoms and infection rates. One particular strand called Bordetella poses the most risks for humans, but typically only affects those with extremely weakened immune systems and is not likely to actually come from an animal.

Still, it is often better to play it safe and keep dogs or other animals suffering from kennel cough away from babies and small children, pregnant women, elderly, and those suffering from diseases, cancer treatments, or otherwise compromised immune systems.

Better yet, you should strongly consider vaccinating animals in your shelter against Bordetella and requiring this of any clients before they send their pet to your boarding or grooming facility. This not only prevents the extreme possibility of passing kennel cough to a human but can greatly decrease the odds of kennel cough spreading throughout your facility, creating an army of sick animals and a tarnished reputation.

If you believe your practice may have already been exposed to kennel cough, you should immediately quarantine the sick animal and disinfect or discard any materials it may have come in contact with.