Kennel cough, or CIRDC

The outdated term “Kennel Cough” is no longer considered accurate, as it suggests only dogs in kennels are at risk.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), sometimes referred to as a Contagious Canine Cough, is a far more accurate term to describe this highly contagious respiratory disease that dogs may be exposed to any time they are in contact with other dogs.


In fact, CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough can affect dogs out walking, at dog training, agility clubs, in the groomers, or attending puppy groups or dog parks, anywhere where they meet another dog, or even drink from a communal water bowl.

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Contagious Canine Cough is much more than just ‘Kennel Cough".

Dogs can be at risk of Contagious Canine Cough anytime they interact with other dogs — and in some cases, by contacting objects or people that have been in contact with infected dogs. So all socially active dogs are at risk of Contagious Canine Cough.

Is your dog at risk of CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough?


The answer is yes if your dog goes to any of the following places...


• Visits to the park

• Boarding kennels

• Going for a haircut at the grooming parlour

• Attend dog training or other dog clubs

• Walks with a dog walker

• Socialising with other dogs

• Drinking from communal water bowls

• Any other dog-to-dog contact.

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What is CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough caused by?


CIRDC can be caused by various viruses and bacteria acting alone or in combination.


Common pathogens include:

• Bordetella bronchiseptica, (a bacteria)

• Canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV)

• Canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2)


Also factors such as stress, a weakened immune system, damp and cold surroundings can contribute to the severity of illness.

How do dogs get CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough?


Similar to the flu in humans, infection occurs from direct contact with other dogs, via tiny droplets transmitted through the air.


Situations where there is extensive dog-to-dog contact or crowded populations pose a high infection risk.


These include:

• Boarding kennels

• Doggy day care

• Parks with other dogs around

• Groomers

• Agility clubs


ALL socially active dogs are at risk of infection. Most dogs come in contact with other dogs in their everyday life when out on walks or visiting friends.


What are the signs of CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough?



CIRDC (Contagious Canine Cough) can last from a few days up to 4 weeks.


Dogs classically suffer from a persistent, hacking cough, which often sounds like a goose honk.


Sometimes coughing is followed by violent gagging, giving the impression the dog is trying to vomit or has something caught in their throat.


Other symptoms which may occur include:

  • fever

  • sneezing

  • a runny nose

  • eye discharge

  • loss of appetite

  • tiredness.


Cases can be more complicated, and pneumonia can develop (puppies and animals in stressful situations or which have weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable).

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How can I protect my dog from CIRDC (Contagious Canine Cough)?


If your dog has regular contact with other dogs, stays in boarding kennels, goes to doggy day care, plays in dog parks or attends dog shows, a vaccination to help protect your dog against CIRDC is strongly recommended.


Proof of vaccination against CIRDC (Contagious Canine Cough, or misleadingly also known as ‘kennel cough’) is required by most boarding kennels and for events such as dog shows or dog training courses.


When more dogs are vaccinated in any population, infection is less likely to spread and thus, the number of dogs with symptomatic disease reduces.


Bordetella bronchiseptica is involved in 78% of dogs with respiratory disease*. Therefore it is important to protect your dog against this bacteria, a key pathogen involved in CIRDC (Contagious Canine Cough) as part of their preventative vaccination programme.


Did you know there is a new way to vaccinate your dog against respiratiory diseases?


Traditional "kennel cough" vaccines for Bordetella bronchiseptica are given up the nose (intranasally), which pretty much every dog hates!


Woodham Lane Vets now have an ORAL vaccine, given in the area between the cheek and teeth, which our patients are already having, and are very happy with!

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If your dog is socially active, any one of these common situations could put your dog at risk of getting CIRDC or Contagious Canine Cough.


Ask us about a vaccine to help protect your dog today.