Kennel cough is a highly contagious airborne virus or bacteria. It’s spread from dog to dog, causing upper-respiratory infection. It mostly affects very young or very old dogs with compromised immune systems. A veterinarian commonly treats the cough with antibiotics. Home remedies can be a safer and healthier alternative once kennel cough is diagnosed. They can also be used as a preventive or a cure and include herbs, vitamins, homeopathics and essential oils.
Building the dog’s immune system is the first defense in the prevention of kennel cough. Echinacea and astragalus are both effective. They can be used in capsule, tea or tincture form and mixed in food or water. Astragalus strengthens lungs and regenerates bronchial cells. Vitamin C also boosts the immune system, making it more difficult for a dog to contract the illness. Chewable vitamin C is most often used, crushed and added to the dog’s food.
Home remedies that stop the cough let the dog sleep better and allow his immune system to heal faster. Honey stops the pain of coughing. It is also antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. Three to four times a day, ½ to 1 tsp. may be given. The herb yerba santa is an expectorant and a decongestant. It is made into a strong tea and may be added to the dog’s water a few drops at a time. Licorice root and peppermint are cough suppressants that are also used as a tea. Five or six drops may be added to the water bowl, as needed. Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. Chopped cloves of garlic may be put in the medicine holder of a vaporizer. The steam will help stop coughs and loosen congestion. Essential oils of lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus are also antiviral and may be used in the vaporizer.
Homeopathic remedies work well against kennel cough and are easy to use. They are sold in pill or liquid form. Rumex, aconite or belladonna are effective at the start of kennel cough. Bryonia C6 is a treatment for dry coughs and mucus membranes. Dulcamara and Ant Tart are used for a rattling cough, while Spongia Tosta 6C is used for a barking seal-like cough. If the cough produces mucus, coccus should be given. Homeopathics are used by selecting the one that works for the symptom. They should not be combined, but used only one at a time.
Although homeopathic medicines can’t be used together, they work well with other remedies. Combining immune and cough remedies works best. Using two or three of each enhances their healing powers. This weakens the cough and relieves the symptoms.
Kennel cough usually runs its course in two to three weeks if left untreated, although sometimes it can lead to pneumonia or serious infections. Home remedies are a natural way to make a dog feel better and speed recovery. A veterinarian should be consulted if the dog shows no signs of improvement in two or three days.