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Bordetella in Dogs: What is Kennel Cough?

Bordetella in Dogs: What is Kennel Cough?

When your dog visits the groomer or a boarding facility it is important to have them protected against the viruses that make their way around social settings. Our Deer Park vets share some information about how kennel cough spreads and how you can protect your dog with the Bordetella vaccine.

Kennel Cough in Dogs: What is it?

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is linked to canine respiratory disease. It is part of the canine infectious respiratory complex, which is also known as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, or infectious tracheobronchitis.

If your dog is experiencing the symptoms of kennel cough they have likely contracted it form the Bordetella virus.

How is Bordetella contracted?

Dogs who visit places where they may come into contact with other dogs, such as doggy daycare, groomers, dog parks, and boarding facilities, are more likely to contract this virus and develop symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

The most likely way for dogs to contract this virus is by inhaling air particles while in the presence of infected dogs. When these particles make their way to the respiratory tract, the dog can experience an inflamed windpipe or voice box.

There are certain situations that increase the likelihood of your dog contracting the virus. These include the following:

  • Staying in a poorly ventilated living space (such as certain kennels)
  • Colder temperatures
  • Exposure to dust or smoke
  • Stress (often brought on by travel issues)

What are the common symptoms of Bordetella in dogs?

Bordetella infections in dogs are characterized by a persistent cough. Along with coughing, your dog may experience reverse sneezes which sound like a goose honking.

Some other symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs include:

  • Eye discharge
  • Less of an appetite
  • A consistently runny nose
  • Fever

Diagnosing Dogs With Kennel Cough

Due to the nature of this illness, kennel cough usually requires the process of elimination to diagnose. Several more serious conditions share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. If your dog is suffering from the canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus then they may likely be experiencing ongoing coughing.

Your vet will take your pup's medical history, lifestyle and examination results into consideration when diagnosing Bordetella. Once diagnosed, your vet will be able to discuss the possible treatment options with you.

Is kennel cough a treatable illness?

The good news is that many Bordetella cases will resolve on their own without the need for further treatment. If you do take your dog to the vet, they may prescribe antibiotics to help him recover faster. Always take the full dose of any medication prescribed by your veterinarian.

Vaccines are also available to prevent infections. Your vet can administer vaccines against these diseases either by injection or via nose drops.

Preventive care Against Bordetella

When protecting your dog against kennel cough, the ideal option is the Bordetella vaccine. Some people even referred to it as the kennel cough vaccine. While the Bordetella vaccine provides ongoing preventive care for your pup it is also important to remember that you will need to bring your dog in once or twice a year for a booster shot.

There are a large number of social activities and settings where your dog should be protected against kennel cough with the Bordetella vaccine such as:

    • Dog Park
    • Boarding Facilities
    • Doggie Daycare
    • Obedience Training
    • Dog Shows
    • Grooming Facilities

Many of these facilities require dogs to have proof of Bordetella vaccination, so getting the vaccine is in your dog's best interest for his health and extracurricular activities.

While vaccinations are rigorously tested for both efficacy and safety you should have a consultation with your vet prior to making the decision to bring your dog in for the kennel cough shot. 
Some dogs such as those that are pregnant or immunocompromised may not be suitable for the vaccination.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog frequently in a social setting such as being groomed or playing at the dog park? Contact our Deer Park vets to schedule a routine wellness visit and vaccinations.

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