Tracheal Bronchitis

Regarding [#Pet Name], here is some information about Tracheal Bronchitis


Tracheal Bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways. This inflammation includes the upper portion of the airway called the trachea and extends into the lower airways called bronchi.


Tracheal Bronchitis can be caused by allergic inflammation, chemical irritation, or infection. Most commonly seen in small animal practice is the contagious form of Infectious Tracheal Bronchitis (a.k.a. Kennel Cough) caused by viral or bacterial infection. This is only contagious between dogs. The incubation period (the time between exposure to and exhibition of symptoms) is typically 6 days.


The predominant symptom is a hacking retching type cough. The inflamed airways secrete excessive mucous which cause a tickle and resultant cough. Other than the occasional to persistent coughing, the dog is not seriously affected. Normally there is no fever or appetite loss and activity is relatively normal. The cough may persist for 2 weeks.


Infectious Tracheal Bronchitis (ITB) is diagnosed based on a history of having an exposure to an infected dog either in the dog park, kennel, shelter, groomer or 6 days prior to the onset of the cough. The history of exposure, presence of normal body temperature, clear lung sounds, and the elicitation of a cough by applying gentle pressure to the trachea is presumptive evidence of Infectious Tracheal Bronchitis.

Complete blood count, and chest radiographs are recommended for pets with atypical symptoms or for coughing that persists after 2 to 3 weeks.


Prevention is not always possible as there are some strains of ITB for which there is no vaccine available. Current vaccination protection with Bordetella, Adenovirus and Para-influenza vaccine is the best preventative strategy. These vaccines are customarily included in annual inoculations provided by veterinarians.

Antibiotics are usually used to treat ITB as it can result in an early recovery (especially for bacterial causes such as Bordetella). Even if the infection is from a virus, the antibiotics can help prevent a secondary pneumonia (infection in the lung tissue). Cough suppressants, expectorants and decongestants may be recommended for individuals with unrelenting cough, however, since coughing is helpful in clearing the debris from the airway, complete cough suppression may be counterproductive. Sometimes it is better to let the pet cough.

Other Information:

Don’t be alarmed if the cough persists for 2 weeks before resolving. It can take up to 2 weeks to produce effective antibodies for certain viral forms of ITB. [#Pet Name] Should be kept away from other dogs if possible as ITB is highly contagious. Call us if the cough is still present after the antibiotics are used up. If there is no significant improvement after 2 to 3 weeks maximum, we will advise further testing to rule out pneumonia or other causes of unresponsive cough (Allergy).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email