honey for kennel cough

Honey for Kennel Cough Natural Treatment for Relieving Symptoms


If your dog is experiencing a dry hacking cough, it is possible that they may have kennel cough. Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), is an upper respiratory tract infection that is similar to the common cold in humans. It is caused by the airborne bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is highly contagious among dogs. Other viruses and bacteria, such as canine parainfluenza, canine adenovirus, and canine distemper, can also lead to kennel cough.

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of kennel cough, how dogs contract the infection, and the natural treatment options available, with a focus on using honey as a remedy.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The most noticeable symptom of kennel cough is a dry hacking cough that can be persistent and worrisome. It may sound similar to a cat coughing up a hairball. Other symptoms of kennel cough include sneezing, coughing up mucus, a sound like something is stuck in the dog’s throat, reduced appetite or no interest in food, runny nose, watery eyes, lethargy, and in more severe cases, fever.

How Dogs Contract Kennel Cough

Dogs can contract kennel cough when their immune system is weakened and unable to fight off the bacteria or viruses they are exposed to. Areas with poor ventilation and high moisture, such as shelters or boarding environments, are common sources of outbreaks. However, dogs can also contract kennel cough from a visit to the vet’s office, encounters with infected dogs on the street, or a trip to the park where an infected dog has been. After exposure, dogs typically show symptoms within 2 to 10 days and are contagious during this period.

Natural Treatment Options for Kennel Cough

While kennel cough usually resolves on its own, there are natural treatment options available to relieve your dog’s symptoms and support their immune system. One such remedy is honey, which has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Here are some ways you can use honey as a natural treatment for kennel cough:

1. Honey

Honey is a powerful remedy for kennel cough due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It can soothe your dog’s throat and boost their immune system. Look for Manuka honey with a Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) of 10 or more, as it has higher levels of beneficial compounds.

To administer honey to your dog, give them half a teaspoon if they weigh less than 20 lbs, one teaspoon for dogs up to 60 lbs, and two teaspoons for dogs over 60 lbs. Most dogs will lick it off the spoon willingly. However, avoid giving honey to diabetic dogs or dogs under a year old.

2. Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, and chaga, have immune-boosting properties that can support your dog’s immune system. These mushrooms also have antioxidants that fight cell damage and disease. You can find dried mushrooms or mushroom powder combinations that can be added to your dog’s food. Ensure that you buy whole fruiting mushroom bodies and not just mycelium, as mycelium lacks the medicinal benefits of mushrooms.

3. Probiotics

Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that support your dog’s gut and immune health. These healthy bacteria discourage the growth of harmful bacteria. You can include prebiotic foods like garlic, honey, and mushrooms in your dog’s diet to support and feed probiotics. Alternatively, you can buy a supplement that contains both pre- and probiotics.

4. Garlic

Garlic is known for its immune-boosting properties and contains antioxidants like vitamin A, sulfur, zinc, and a range of B vitamins that support gut health. It is also a powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory remedy. To administer garlic to your dog, chop a fresh, organic clove and let it sit for 10 minutes to release its medicinal properties. Mix it into your dog’s food, feeding approximately ⅓ teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight.

5. Rose Hips

Rose hips are a natural source of vitamin C, which can support your dog’s immune system. They are a safer alternative to synthetic vitamin C supplements, which can cause diarrhea. Ground rose hips can be added to your dog’s food, with a recommended dosage of 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of food.

6. Ginger

Ginger has immune-stimulating properties and is known for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. You can use minced ginger in root form and add it to your dog’s food. The recommended dosage is ¼ teaspoon for miniature breeds, ½ teaspoon for dogs under 35 lbs, and ¾ teaspoon for larger dogs.

7. Immune Boosting Herbal Tea

An immune-boosting herbal tea can provide additional support for your dog’s immune system. This tea is safe for all dogs, including seniors and puppies over 10 weeks old. To make the tea, steep the following ingredients in hot/boiling water for 10 minutes:

  • 4 tablespoons of ground rose hips
  • 4 tablespoons of dried echinacea
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger (or more if your dog tolerates it)
  • 4 tablespoons of dried chamomile

After the tea has cooled, add 1-2 teaspoons (including the herbs) to meals for small dogs and 2-4 tablespoons for large dogs.

Conventional Kennel Cough Treatment

It is best to avoid conventional kennel cough treatments that usually involve antibiotics like Baytril, Doxycycline, and Clavamox. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, and they can also harm the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut, weakening their immune system. If your dog’s case of kennel cough seems severe, your vet may perform lung x-rays, blood tests, or cultures to rule out more serious diseases.

Kennel Cough Treatment to Avoid

Avoid using over-the-counter kennel cough medicines, as they often contain toxic ingredients that can harm your dog. Some cough medicines may contain dextromethorphan, which is not recommended for dogs with liver disease, skin allergies, or chronic coughs. Other ingredients, such as guaifenesin, can have side effects like nausea, vomiting, nervousness, hallucinations, tremors, and increased heart rate.

Human cough medicines can contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen, pseudoephedrine, alcohol, artificial color, caffeine, antihistamines, and xylitol, all of which are toxic to dogs even in small amounts.

Duration of Kennel Cough

A healthy dog with kennel cough will typically recover within a week. However, puppies or dogs with compromised immune systems or pre-existing conditions may take 1-2 months to fully recover. It is important to note that even after recovery, dogs with symptoms are still infectious and can spread the disease to other dogs for a few weeks.

In conclusion, honey can be an effective natural treatment for relieving the symptoms of kennel cough in dogs. Along with honey, other natural remedies such as medicinal mushrooms, probiotics, garlic, rose hips, ginger, and immune-boosting herbal tea can also support your dog’s immune system and help alleviate their symptoms. It is important to consult with your veterinarian before starting any treatment and to monitor your dog’s condition closely.

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