Do you treat your dog as a family member? If so, you’re not alone; most Americans with pets (a whopping 97%!) consider them family.

So, it’s not surprising if your first reaction to hearing your dog coughing and sneezing persistently is to worry. They’re your precious baby, after all, so their getting sick can be nerve-wracking.

But before you panic, take a deep breath.

Then, carefully read this article. We’ll discuss the possible causes behind your dog exhibiting such symptoms and what you can do to help them. 

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza, or “dog flu,” is a contagious viral respiratory infection in dogs. It results from two specific Type A dog flu viruses: H3N8 and H3N2.

Two of the primary symptoms of canine flu are coughing and sneezing. These are also the methods by which the virus can spread to other dogs.

What Are Other Symptoms of Dog Flu?

Dogs with canine flu exhibit symptoms similar to people with human influenza. For example, besides coughing and sneezing, they may have a fever, runny nose, and lethargy (lack of energy and enthusiasm). You may also notice eye discharge and lack of appetite.

How Can You Help Your Dog Recover From the Flu?

According to the CDC, most dogs who get the canine flu recover within two to three weeks. However, it’s imperative to help them stay as comfortable and hydrated as possible. This can help their immune system perform better in fighting the infection.

Speaking with your veterinarian about your dog’s condition would also be best. The vet may prescribe medications to help your pet feel more comfortable. They may also prescribe antibiotics if they think there’s a secondary infection. 

Is Dog Flu Preventable?


Vaccines can help protect against the H3N8 and H3N2 virus strains that cause canine flu. Your vet may recommend these if you live somewhere with a high dog flu incidence rate. They may do the same if you regularly travel with your pup or if they spend a lot of time with other dogs.

You should also practice caution when taking your dog to public places or daycare centers. Always check first if there have been recent flu cases in those areas. 

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis (AKA kennel cough) is another contagious respiratory disease in dogs. Like dog flu, it causes coughing, sneezing, lethargy, decreased appetite, and low fever. However, the coughing sounds that dogs with kennel cough make may be louder and almost honk-like.

What Causes Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough usually results from an infection caused by Bordetella, a bacterium. In other cases, it can be due to mycoplasma, a bacteria that can affect the lungs. Viruses (e.g., canine adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus, and respiratory coronavirus) may also cause it. 

How Does Kennel Cough Spread?

Kennel cough often spreads in areas where many dogs congregate, such as kennels (hence the name). Other places where contraction is likely are training facilities, shows, and daycare centers.

Your pup may get exposed to the pathogens that cause kennel cough through direct contact. For example, if your doggo bumps its nose against an infected dog. It can also catch the disease indirectly, such as by touching contaminated surfaces. 

How Is Kennel Cough Treated?

Mild cases of kennel cough usually resolve without treatment within a week. However, some dogs may experience persisting symptoms after one week of rest. In this case, experts recommend treatment using antimicrobials

How Can You Reduce Your Pup’s Risk for Kennel Cough?

No vaccine protects against all the pathogens that cause canine infectious tracheobronchitis. However, there’s one for Bordetella bronchiseptica and another for Canine parainfluenza virus. These two are the most commonly involved pathogens in kennel cough.

Speak with your veterinarian to determine if vaccination is ideal for your pup. You should also avoid taking your canine pal to public places with reported outbreaks. 

Dog Allergies

Like humans, dogs can also experience allergic reactions to allergens. In most cases, though, their symptoms show up through the skin, such as swelling in the face, eyes, lips, ears, and earflaps. They may also cause itchiness and hives, leading to frequent scratching.

However, an allergy can also cause dogs to cough, sneeze (including the reverse kind), and wheeze. This is often accompanied by frequent pawing or rubbing of the face or nose against something. 

What Are Common Dog Allergens?

Fleas are among the most common canine allergens. Their bites and saliva can trigger allergic symptoms in your dog’s skin.

Certain foods or ingredients can also act as allergens in dogs. Proteins, especially those from dairy, wheat gluten, soy, beef, chicken, and eggs, are common culprits. Here’s a guide that can help you learn more about dog allergies and food selection.

Your pup may also exhibit systems if they have allergies to environmental elements, such as dust, fungi, pollen, and mold. These allergies are often seasonal, but they can still cause discomfort. 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Has Allergies?

Bring your pup to the veterinarian for a comprehensive check-up and allergy testing. Your vet must rule out any other illness or condition behind your pet’s symptoms.

Allergy testing can help the vet determine what your dog is allergic to. This allows them to develop an appropriate prevention and treatment plan.

Prevention focuses on avoiding the triggers. For example, if your dog has dairy allergies, you must avoid feeding it with anything that has dairy. 

For the treatment part, the vet may prescribe antihistamines or cortisones. They may also tell you to give your pet allergy relief medications. 

Address Persistent Dog Coughing and Sneezing ASAP

From dog flu to kennel cough and allergies, these can all be behind persistent dog coughing and sneezing. And while these conditions aren’t always severe, they can still cause your pup discomfort.

So, if your dog exhibits those symptoms, don’t panic. However, don’t delay bringing your pup to the veterinarian, either. This way, the vet can begin treatment immediately to help your furry family member get better.

For more health and wellness tips for you and your pets, check out our other recent blog posts!