Kennel cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) can be caused by bacteria and/or viruses. It is a very contagious disease passed between dogs when they are in close contact, which means it can be contracted in boarding kennels, but also at puppy classes, agility sessions and dog shows. Even meeting other dogs out on a walk can put an unvaccinated dog at risk of kennel cough. The main clinical sign is a dry, hacking cough that will often lead to a retch and is usually exacerbated by excitement or exercise.
Supportive treatment (such as anti-inflammatories and cough suppressants) may be used if a viral infection is suspected, but bacterial infections may require a course of antibiotics. In some patient, the infection can develop into pneumonia which is much more serious and is likely to necessitate several days of hospitalisation.
An intranasal vaccination against the main viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough (Parainfluenza and Bordetella) is available and many kennels will require this vaccination before they will board your dog. This vaccination is required on top of their normal annual injections so please ask your vet to protect your dog against kennel cough on your next visit.