Pathogens are wildfire behind the closed doors of your veterinary business. When one animal brings in a highly contagious illness like kennel cough, you need to respond fast so that the other dogs don’t get sick. Fortunately, an effective kennel cough cleaning protocol is all your veterinarian team needs when responding to this dreaded illness in your facility.

The tips below share how your veterinary practice can prevent a major outbreak, protect pets, and offer people peace of mind.

How Is Kennel Cough Spread, When Do Dogs Contract Kennel Cough, and What Are Its Symptoms in Veterinary Settings?

Kennel cough is called canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs from culprits like Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus (similar to the common cold in humans).

So, how is kennel cough spread? How long is kennel cough contagious on surfaces? How do I disinfect my house from kennel cough?

As a veterinary practice manager, you may hear these questions from concerned pet parents as outbreaks occur. Like any viruses or bacteria, the illness can spread through the air, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces. Dogs are at risk in close quarters, like boarding kennels, dog parks, or shelters.

The best approach to avoiding outbreaks is encouraging pet parents to allow a vaccination. Maintaining good hygiene and avoiding contact with infected dogs is also helpful, especially for symptoms such as:

  • Persistent, dry cough.
  • Gagging or retching.
  • Runny nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Mild fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Lethargy.
  • Swollen tonsils.
  • Eye discharge.


Early detection is vital for this infection. Is your veterinary team ready?

Essential Steps in a Kennel Cough Cleaning Protocol

What is the best disinfectant spray for kennel cough to create a safe environment for pets? If an infected dog visits your vet practice or pet care facility, a spray might not be enough. 

Prepare to prevent major breakouts of this illness by doing the following:

Initial Assessment and Pet Isolation

Have you identified and isolated infected pets? If not, they’ll continue infecting other dogs in your practice’s boarding area (as well as cats, rabbits, horses, or rodents). After isolating the pet or pets involved, you can list potential contamination locations and surfaces.

How long should pet owners or vet clinics isolate an animal? In your boarding environment, you should isolate infected dogs for a minimum of 14 days after their pneumonia resolves.

Cleaning and Disinfecting the Veterinary Environment

Where exactly has the infected dog or another animal been? Contagions remain on surfaces for as long as five days. Your kennel cough cleaning protocol should include a fast response for disinfecting your facility, house, kennels, or vet clinic after a kennel cough outbreak:

  • Remove bedding, feeding, and water bowls. Use the recommended cleaning agents to clean them. The best disinfectant spray for kennel cough is Rescue™ Concentrate at a 1:16 dilution with a 5-minute contact time, though we will cover more popular options below.
  • Remove any debris from the kennel. Thoroughly rinse it with hot water.
  • Spray the walls, floors, and ceiling of the kennel with the disinfectant solution. Use a stiff brush to scrub the solution into the kennel. Rinse with water when done.
  • Spray any other infected areas with the disinfectant. Don’t miss vet clinic floors, countertops, exam tables, and equipment. 


Recommended Disinfectants

Aside from Rescue™, numerous cleaning products can effectively kill the bacteria causing kennel cough. We recommend the following:

  • Bleach (usually four ounces per gallon dilution).
  • Care Biocide Plus (usually eight ounces per gallon dilution).
  • Chlorhexidine Solution (also kills fungi and ringworm).
  • Oxine® (usually 1:400 dilution).


Follow the recommended protocols for safe and effective dilution and contact times.

Handling Contaminated Materials

If an infected dog comes in contact with bowls, toys, bedding, etc., your veterinary team should disinfect all of it. Run the item through a dishwasher or washing machine for added heat destruction. Hand washing with hot water may also be effective.

Personal Protective Equipment

As you train your veterinary staff on the cleaning protocol, PPE is essential. Wear gloves, safety goggles, and masks when handling infected items or cleaning chemicals.

Best Practices for Kennel Cough Prevention

Kennel cough prevention requires routine cleaning schedules and maintenance so you can avoid future outbreaks. Why not train your staff on the signs of kennel cough in an infected dog? That way, you’ll see faster responses the next time a sick dog comes in. 

Regular health checks help to monitor each dog in your care, as well.

Weave’s Solutions for Effective Practice Management

The veterinary practice management experts at Weave offer an end-to-end business communication platform designed to help veterinary clinics operate more efficiently, which can be key during an outbreak.

Streamlining Communication

Weave’s advanced phone system improves communication among your staff and with clients. Vets can quickly reach out to key members when dogs need isolation.

Automated Reminders and Scheduling

Weave’s text reminders and online scheduling efficiently manages appointments. Staff can spend more time on clinic cleanliness or dog health screenings.

Enhancing Client Interaction

With Weave’s tools for reviews, payments, and digital forms, you can enhance the overall client experience and communication caliber in and out of a crisis.

Marketing and Engagement

Lastly, Weave’s email marketing helps vets share dog health tips, cleaning protocols, and practice updates with the pet owners they serve.

Keep Pet Owners Engaged and Informed With Weave

Does your vet practice have a robust kennel cough cleaning protocol? Get a demo of Weave to see how we can help by making your practice more efficient and connected.

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