Horses are majestic creatures that are often kept for various purposes, such as horse riding or racing. They are prone to several health issues, including respiratory illnesses. One of the common questions that horse owners ask is whether their horses can get kennel cough from dogs.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. It is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, and it spreads quickly in places where dogs are kept in close proximity. But can horses get kennel cough from dogs? Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

Can Horses Get Kennel Cough from Dogs?

Can Horses Get Kennel Cough from Dogs?

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. It is caused by a variety of bacteria and viruses, including Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus, and canine parainfluenza virus. The disease is characterized by a harsh, hacking cough that can last for several weeks. Dogs can contract kennel cough from other dogs in close proximity, such as in kennels, dog shows, and dog parks.

Can Horses Get Kennel Cough?

While it is primarily a disease that affects dogs, horses can also contract kennel cough under certain circumstances. Horses that are stabled in close proximity to dogs, such as at a horse racing stable where dogs are used to keep the barns clear of vermin, may be at risk of contracting the disease. Horses that are immunocompromised, such as those that are already sick or elderly, may also be more susceptible to contracting kennel cough.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Horses

Symptoms of kennel cough in horses can vary, but typically include a persistent cough, nasal discharge, and fever. Horses with kennel cough may also exhibit signs of fatigue and a decreased appetite. It is important to note that these symptoms can also be indicative of other respiratory diseases in horses, so it is important to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosing Kennel Cough in Horses

To diagnose kennel cough in horses, a veterinarian will typically perform a thorough physical examination and take a swab of the horse’s nasal discharge. The swab will be sent to a laboratory for testing to determine the presence of Bordetella bronchiseptica or other bacteria that can cause kennel cough. In some cases, a veterinarian may also perform a bronchoscopy, which involves inserting a small camera into the horse’s airways to examine the lungs.

Treatment for Kennel Cough in Horses

Treatment for kennel cough in horses typically involves a combination of antibiotics and supportive care. The antibiotics are used to treat the underlying bacterial infection, while supportive care may include rest, hydration, and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce fever and inflammation. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

Preventing Kennel Cough in Horses

Preventing kennel cough in horses involves minimizing their exposure to dogs that may be carrying the disease. This can include keeping horses and dogs separated as much as possible, and ensuring that dogs are vaccinated against the bacteria and viruses that can cause kennel cough. Additionally, horses should be kept in clean and well-ventilated stables to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.

Benefits of Preventive Measures

Preventive measures can help reduce the risk of horses contracting kennel cough, which can lead to fewer infections and less time spent treating sick horses. Additionally, preventing the spread of kennel cough can help reduce the overall incidence of the disease in dogs, which can have a positive impact on animal welfare.

Kennel Cough vs. Other Respiratory Diseases in Horses

While kennel cough is a respiratory disease that can affect horses, it is important to note that there are many other respiratory diseases that can also affect horses. Some of these diseases, such as equine influenza and strangles, are highly contagious and can cause serious illness and even death. It is important for horse owners to work closely with their veterinarians to develop a comprehensive disease prevention and management plan.


In conclusion, while horses can contract kennel cough from dogs under certain circumstances, it is not a common occurrence. Preventive measures, such as minimizing exposure to dogs and ensuring that dogs are vaccinated, can help reduce the risk of horses contracting the disease. If a horse does develop kennel cough, prompt diagnosis and treatment are important for a successful recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that affects dogs. It is highly contagious and is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The infection causes inflammation of the dog’s throat and windpipe, leading to a dry, hacking cough.

Can dogs transmit Kennel Cough to horses?

There is no evidence to suggest that dogs can transmit kennel cough to horses. The virus and bacteria strains that cause kennel cough are specific to dogs and do not affect other species. However, horses can contract respiratory infections from other horses or animals.

What are the signs of Kennel Cough in dogs?

The most common sign of kennel cough is a dry, hacking cough that may sound like the dog is trying to clear their throat. Other symptoms may include sneezing, a runny nose, and a low fever. In severe cases, the dog may experience lethargy, loss of appetite, and difficulty breathing.

Is there a vaccine for Kennel Cough in dogs?

Yes, there is a vaccine available for kennel cough in dogs. The vaccine is recommended for dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs, such as those in boarding kennels, dog shows, or training classes. However, the vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing kennel cough.

How can Kennel Cough be prevented?

The best way to prevent kennel cough in dogs is to limit their exposure to other dogs that may be infected. Avoid dog parks, boarding kennels, and other places where dogs congregate if your dog is not up-to-date on their vaccinations. Keep your dog’s immune system strong with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Kennel Cough In Dogs

In conclusion, while it’s possible for horses to get kennel cough from dogs, it’s a rare occurrence. Horses and dogs have different respiratory systems, which means that the bacteria that cause kennel cough in dogs are unlikely to affect horses in the same way.

However, it’s important to note that horses can still get respiratory illnesses from other horses or other sources. Ensuring that your horse is up-to-date on vaccinations, maintaining good hygiene practices, and avoiding contact with sick animals can all help to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.

Ultimately, while it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of kennel cough in horses, horse owners should focus on providing their animals with the best possible care to ensure their overall health and well-being. By taking proactive measures to prevent respiratory illnesses, horse owners can help to ensure that their animals stay healthy and happy for years to come.

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