Bordetella respiratory disease is caused by the bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and is often called “Kennel Cough” in young dogs. It is primarily found in domestic dogs and cats and is recognized as a syndrome in grey and red squirrels.  

It is highly contagious and spread through contact or inhalation of respiratory secretions. There is a high mortality when outbreaks in squirrels are reported.  The bacteria produces a toxin that causes inflammation in the respiratory tract, interfering with pulmonary secretions.

The clinical signs include a persistent cough, retching, watery nasal discharge and in more severe cases, pneumonia, fever and death from respiratory distress. 

Bordetella can be cultured from respiratory discharge or the lung and treatment can be successful with antibiotics.