Most people are familiar with the term "kennel cough." This is a layterm which refers to a group of infectious diseases that lead to infectious tracheobronchitis.
Infectious tracheobronchitis is basically an upper respiratory infection that is fairly common in dogs. It is somewhat similar to a cold in people.There are thirteen known agents that cause kennel cough. Some of these are bacteria and some are viruses. All are highly contagious among dogs. In general, viral kennel cough runs its course with no problems. In some dogs, the cough associated with this is severe enough to need cough medication for a few days. Bacterial kennel cough will respond to antibiotic therapy. Dogs with bacterial kennel cough may also need cough suppressants. Based on physical exam, it may be imposible to differentiate between bacterial and viral kennel cough. They may be present together. The doctor examining the dog is in the best position to determine if cough suppressants, antibiotics or both are indicated.
Many people ask about vaccination against kennel cough. Since there are thirteen bacteria and viruses that can cause kennel cough, vaccination against this complex would involve a vaccine against each of these agents. Currently, we vaccinate against two agents known to cause kennel cough--bordatella, a bacterium, and parainfluenza, a virus. Parainfluenza virus is commonly vaccinated against as a part of the "five-way" vaccine used for puppy series of vaccines and as an annual booster in adult dogs.
Bordatella vaccine is considered optional. We recommend vaccination against bordatella for dogs commonly exposed to groups of dogs such as those attending obedience classes, those kenneled on a regular basis, and those who go to grooming facilities on a regular basis. Some grooming and most kennel facilities require bordatella vaccines for their customers' pets.