There is no one virus or bacteria that makes up “Kennel Cough” Kennel cough is a catch phrase used to describe just about every respiratory illness that dogs get. There are always several viruses out there waiting to grab a hold of someone’s weakened immune system. Once one grabs on often times another will hitchhike along. To add to this the kennel cough or bordetella vaccine only covers 2 out of 8 strains of the bacteria. But your dog’s vaccine for canine influenza helps here as well.
So why should we bother to vaccinated if it’s not foolproof? No vaccine is foolproof. We have since the start of vaccines become much better about making them as effective as possible but some vaccines are trying to cover something that mutates every year or less! That being said dogs that are vaccinated for Kennel cough tend not get hit as hard and do recover much quicker than if they weren’t vaccinated. Case in point my GSD pup Jet. He had a slight cough, maybe 3 or 4 times a day for 4 days and that was it. He had been vaccinated in November and we re-vaccinated him in the beginning of March because my Vet knew it was going to be a bad year for it. I have found over the years that the kennel cough vaccine is unfortunately not very effective for the dogs on my adventure hikes. That said we haven't had a case in 3 years now( runs to knock on wood)
If your dog is a social dog they should be vaccinated for it if you and your Vet have agreed upon it. If your dog is very social, meaning they have a dog walker, go to daycare, attend regular classes or have monthly grooming appointments you should be looking at vaccinating more than once a year. We tend to get a major spike in Kennel Cough in the early spring and then a minor spike in the fall.