A dry, hacking cough accompanied by vomiting and a runny nose can be the first indicators that your dog has kennel cough. The disease can be fatal in severe cases and can otherwise last for weeks on end. Several bacteria and viruses cause kennel cough, and the length of time they live without a host varies.
Clinically known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex, kennel cough irritates a dog's respiratory tract with a number of infectious pathogens. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the primary and longest-lived bacterial players, surviving several weeks on an unsanitized surface. Adenovirus is the hardiest of the viruses, lasting up to three days.
All the bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough are easily killed with household bleach. Adenovirus is the most difficult to inactivate, but it responds to 5 percent sodium hypochlorite -- found in household bleach -- diluted at a ratio of one part bleach to 32 parts water. Its only other nemesis is potassium peroxymonosulfate, a non-chlorinated pool shock chemical.