Kennel cough is an infection of the upper respiratory tract of the dog, and can be caused by a variety of different viruses and pathogens. Canine parainfluenza, adenovirus, coronavirus, distemper and some bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica are all implicated.
Surprisingly, kennel cough is one of the few canine conditions that is a zoonosis.
Many dogs can get over kennel cough without any treatment. However, the longer the dog is affected by the disease, the more compromised the dog’s immune system will become, and the worse it will affect the dog.
While antibiotics can be given to tackle the bacterial component of the condition, the mixed nature of the infection means it will still be days or weeks before the viral infection subsides.
Cough suppressants and humidifiers may also be used to help to lessen the coughing itself, and so reduce the pain and inflammation that can accompany the cough. Kennel cough can be serious in dogs with a compromised immune system, and careful monitoring of the condition is required to ensure the infection does not progress to the lower respiratory tract and potentially cause pneumonia or other complications.
Generally though, the condition can be resolved within a few weeks, and most dogs make a full recovery.