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Bordetella (Kennel Cough) Vaccination

Randy Walker DVM

What Is The Bordetella Vaccination?

This is a vaccination which protects against Canine Cough Syndrome which is commonly called kennel cough. Most Bordetella vaccines guard against parainfluenza as well.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious disease of dogs which results in a persistent, dry hacking cough which is sometimes severe. Kennel cough is caused by several viruses and bacteria working alone or in combination. The most important of these is a bacteria named Bordetella bronchiseptica. Although kennel cough is usually a mild disease and recovery is usually complete, we strive to prevent it when possible.

How Can My Dog Catch Kennel Cough?

The most common way to catch a case of kennel cough is through exposure to unfamiliar dogs such as in a boarding kennel situation. Kennel cough (caused by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica) is extremely infectious and is spread in the air by infected dogs mainly through coughing and sneezing. On occasion a dog can have Bordetella as part of its normal population of nasal bacteria and not be sick but still transmit the infection to another dog if they are unvaccinated or haven't been exposed before.

Do Most Boarding Facilities Require Recent Bordetella (Kennel Cough) Vaccination For All Boarders?

Yes.

Why Do Most Boarding Facilities Require Recent Kennel Cough Vaccination For All Boarding Dogs?

Because, as a responsible boarding facility, they feel they have an obligation to take every reasonable precaution to avoid the spread of kennel cough and other diseases among their boarders. Since all dogs are required to be recently vaccinated, this helps protect your dog as well as others.

Isn't My Dog Already Protected Against Kennel Cough By His Yearly Distemper/Parvo 7-Way Vaccination?

No. While it is true that the Distemper/Parvo 7-way vaccination does protect against two of the viruses that can cause kennel cough (Parainfluenza Virus and Adenovirus Type II) it does not include Bordetella which is the most common cause.

How Is The Bordetella Vaccination Given?

Many veterinary clinics give the intranasal vaccine (meaning to squirt a small amount up each nostril). Some prefer the injectable vaccine.

What Is The Recommended Protocol For Giving The Bordetella Vaccination?

Dogs who have never received the vaccination should get one dose, preferably at least one week prior to boarding. There is usually no 3 week follow-up booster like there is with the 7-way vaccination (this can vary with your local situation so check with your regular veterinarian). Afterward, we recommend that the vaccination be boostered yearly if the dog is not being boarded or within tile last six months prior to boarding.

Why Is The Vaccine Given Intranasally?

The intranasal vaccine works best to boost the localized immunity in the nasal passages and trachea (windpipe) and studies have shown that it is this localized immunity that gives the best protection against kennel cough.

Does The Bordetella Vaccination Give A 100% Guarantee That My Dog Will Not Get Kennel Cough?

No. However, it does greatly reduce the chances of acquiring kennel cough and will usually notably lessen the severity of the disease should your dog get kennel cough.

Why Is The Bordetella Vaccination Not A 100% Guarantee That My Dog Won't Get Kennel Cough?

This is because while Bordetella bronchiseptica (the bacteria we are vaccinating against) is a prime cause of kennel cough and we also are protecting against two viruses that cause kennel cough (Parainfluenza and Adenovirus Type II), there are other bacteria & viruses which can cause kennel cough on occasion.

Are There Any Adverse Side Effects To The Bordetella Vaccination?

While no medication, nutritional supplement or food substance that is taken into the body is ever completely without potential side effects, the kennel cough vaccination is one of the safest on the market and side effects (fever, nausea, malaise,) are extremely rare. The most common minor side effect we sometimes see is occasional coughing or sneezing during the first few hours after the vaccine is administered.

What Other Precautions Do Responsible Boarding Facilities Take To Lessen The Chances Of My Dog Being Exposed To Kennel Cough Or Any Other Infectious Disease From Another Dog While Boarding?

The boarding kennel will also try to lessen the chances of acquiring kennel cough and other diseases by using very adequate ventilation and taking measures to eliminate direct or casual contact between dogs in the kennel. Most boarding facilities require all boarders to be current on their Distemper/Parvo 6-way & Rabies vaccinations.

If My Dog Has Already Had Kennel Cough, Can He Get It Again?

Yes. The immunity to kennel cough (Bordetella) can wane over time, so periodic boosters are required. Also, it should be remembered that kennel cough is the name applied to a general coughing syndrome and can be caused by several different infectious agents. If your dog has had kennel cough due to one "germ" he could catch it again from another "germ" which he doesn't have immunity to. A good analogy is that just because you've had a cold this doesn't mean you can't get another one in the future.


- Randy Walker DVM
Sun Lakes Animal Clinic
May 14,2004



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