Kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis, is a contagious disease that can cause your dog to cough for up to three weeks. Kennel cough causes a hacking, dry cough, but it is rarely life threatening. Nevertheless, it can cause your dog quite a lot of discomfort.

Kennel cough occurs due to infection with any one of several pathogens, and can sometimes occur due to infection with more than one of these simultaneously. These pathogens include the bacteria Bordetella bronchiceptica as well as adenoviruses and parainfluenza viruses. They can cause persistent coughing symptoms, loss of fever and appetite, though most dogs recover without medical intervention.

Assessing Your Dog's Risk for Kennel Cough

Most dogs catch kennel cough when they are boarded at a veterinary facility or kennel. Show dogs are vulnerable to this illness, since they often come into contact with many other dogs. Dogs that have a lot of social contact with unfamiliar dogs are also at risk. If you have a show dog, or you know your dog will be spending a lot of time with other dogs in a boarding facility or other setting, vaccination against kennel cough is wise. Geriatric dogs, especially those with respiratory disorders or compromised immunity, should be vaccinated, since kennel cough can become a serious illness in these animals. 

This vaccine is not considered a core, or necessary, vaccine. Core vaccines are intended to prevent serious, life-threatening infections, and they include vaccinations against rabies, distemper and parvovirus, which are discussed separately.

Vaccinating Puppies and Dogs against Dog Kennel Cough

Puppies should begin to receive their first vaccinations at six to eight weeks of age along with its core vaccines.

Your puppy should receive a kennel cough booster vaccination at the age of 10 to 12 weeks. He should receive a second booster at the age of one year. Your puppy should continue to receive a kennel cough booster every year for the rest of his life. You should be advised that your puppy will not begin to enjoy full immunity from kennel cough for 72 hours to two weeks following his initial inoculation.