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Dog Kennel Cough: Homeopathic Opinion Dr. Will Falconer, DVM

Today Amy “asks the holistic vet”: I think my dog has kennel cough.I've never been around a dog with this but I've read the symptoms and that's what it sounds like. What are some plant-powered remedies for dog kennel cough?

Dr. Will Falconer, Certified Veterinary Homeopath, Alternatives for Animal Health in Austin, TX responds:

Dog kennel cough is a really harsh, deep cough, often ending in a gag. Affected dogs are usually triggered by touching their throat. It usually lasts for 2-3 weeks, but luckily, doesn't typically make a dog ill beyond that period of time. It's just uncomfortable, kind of like us getting a long lasting cold.

But, and this is very important: other things can cause a cough, beyond the infectious agents that cause dog kennel cough. Cough could be due to congestive heart failure, heartworms, other infectious causes, tracheal collapse, tumors, etc. Obviously, a diagnosis would be most valuable, as the treatment will be significantly different depending on the cause. As would be the prognosis, or chances of recovery.

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So, a visit to your veterinarian would be highly recommended as the first step, so you know what you are dealing with.

There are some things that may help simple kennel cough from homeopathic medicine, and some things from herbal medicine as well. Homeopathy could help more serious causes of cough also, but these are best done in the context of working with a trained homeopathic veterinarian.

Homeopathy depends on the symptoms your dog is portraying, and remedies would only have effect if they are carefully chosen in this regard. The expectation would be that, if indeed infectious tracheobronchitis (the whole name for dog "kennel cough") is the cause, the course should be able to be shortened significantly. It's best to consult with a homeopathic veterinarian to get the best results, as the fine details of what makes the cough better or worse and how the "whole dog" is responding to her illness must be taken into account to arrive at the most appropriate remedy.

Herbally, if the cough is a simple, self limiting one, slippery elm or mullein or peppermint may be helpful. These can be made into a tea, and mixed into food. Three times a day, dosing a 50 lb dog with a tablespoon down to a 1/2 teaspoonful for a dog under 20 lb may help sooth a cough. Again, you'd want to know this is a self limiting cough in the first place, as you'd be wasting valuable time if it were due to more serious causes.

So, get a diagnosis first. Then, if you and your veterinarian are certain this is dog kennel cough, try either homeopathy that "fits" your dog's response to her illness, or try some herbs to soothe.

To learn more about dog kennel cough, holistic and homeopathic vet care, please visit

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