Canine kennel cough can be caused by bacteria like Bordetella bronchiseptica, Streptococcus equi and mycoplasma as well as a number of viruses, either alone or in combination. Whichever microbes are involved, infection results in inflammation and irritation of the upper airways. In severe cases, the infection can progress to pneumonia.
Kennel cough is extremely common. The primary symptom is coughing, but dogs may also have a runny nose, eye discharge, lethargy and a poor appetite. The organisms that cause kennel cough are very contagious to other dogs (and in rare cases, to people and cats) so infected dogs need to isolated to prevent spread of the disease.
Preventive vaccinations are available against Bordetella bronchiseptica and some of the viral causes of kennel cough. Dogs who spend a lot of time indoors around other dogs (think kennels, doggy day cares, shows, etc.) should receive kennel cough vaccines every 6 to 12 months, depending on their particular circumstances.