• Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) causes respiratory disease and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with “kennel cough” in dogs.
  • Dogs with CAV-2 typically exhibit a dry, hacking cough and retching.
  • Treatment is typically limited to supportive care and administration of antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.
  • A vaccine is available to help prevent disease associated with CAV-2.

What Is Canine Adenovirus Type 2?

Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) causes respiratory disease in dogs and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also known as kennel cough. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is usually spread from dog to dog through coughing. Dogs that are around other dogs, such as at boarding facilities, grooming salons, or dog parks, are at increased risk for exposure.

After CAV-2 has been transmitted to a dog, the incubation (development) period of the disease is approximately 3 to 10 days. The infection is typically self-limiting (resolving without treatment); however, in some cases, it can lead to pneumonia.

Signs of Canine Adenovirus Type 2 Infection

Common signs of CAV-2 infection include:

  • A dry, hacking cough
  • Retching and gagging
  • Coughing up a white, foamy discharge
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • In some cases, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the inner eyelids and tissues around the eyes)

Diagnosis and Treatment

Infectious canine tracheobronchitis is usually diagnosed based on clinical signs and a history of possible exposure (such as a recent trip to a grooming salon or boarding facility).

Treatment of CAV-2 infection is typically limited to supportive care, which may consist of fluids, rest, and antibiotics to treat secondary infections that may develop.


A vaccine is available to prevent CAV-2 infection. However, it is important to realize that the vaccine does not completely prevent a dog from contracting CAV-2. Rather, the vaccine limits the severity of infection so that vaccinated dogs typically experience a milder form of the disease.

The CAV-2 vaccine also protects against infection with canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). CAV-1 causes infectious canine hepatitis—a dangerous and potentially fatal infection. Because CAV-2 is common and the CAV-2 vaccine cross-protects against CAV-1, the CAV-2 vaccine is considered a core vaccine by organized veterinary medicine, meaning that all dogs should receive this vaccine. The CAV-2 vaccine is typically given in a combination vaccine that also protects against other serious diseases, such as canine distemper and canine parvovirus infection. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccination schedule for your pet.

Other preventive measures include:

  • Keep puppies away from other dogs until the puppy vaccination series is complete.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to unvaccinated and sick animals.
  • Keep your dog out of facilities where animals have been known to be infected with kennel cough.

Dogs with kennel cough should wear a harness rather than a neck collar when taken for walks during recovery. Collars can place pressure on the trachea (the large airway that runs from the back of the throat into the lungs), which can contribute to coughing.