(Mpls., Mn) on 02/01/2014
There are myriad reasons for a dog to have a cough; older dogs can cough from tracheal collapse; dogs infected with heart worm will cough; puppies seem to pick up 'kennel cough' just by visiting the dog park. A sure fire way for a vet to test for KC is to press on the throat in a certain area - the dog will cough it if has KC [sorry I can't explain in fuller detail]. I did have one of mine catch KC and it sounded as if she had a bone stuck in her throat and was trying a deep cough to bring it up.
Kennel cough is a virus with a billion gazillion strains: like the human flu, you can give your pet the KC vaccine but if the strain of virus your dog is exposed to is not covered in the vaccine, then your dog is at risk of catching that strain of KC.
Vet's often prescribe antibiotics for KC *just in case* your dog develops bacterial complications. I try to avoid unnecessary antibiotics but would consider dosing 3-5-7 days if it did appear that my dog developed a secondary bacterial infection due to the stress of fighting off the virus.
If you are certain you are dealing with KC, I have used homeopathic children's cough remedy available from the natural health store do the trick. That and nutritional support with vitamin C or Echinacea boosted with vitamin C was all that was needed.