Canine Bordetella Symptoms

Canine Bordetella is a highly contagious upper respiratory condition that affects a high amount of dogs. Also known as kennel cough and more recently, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, canine bordetella has distinct symptoms that can make it fairly easy to diagnose.

Canine Bordetella Symptoms

When a dog is infected with canine Bordetella, he will usually display a dry, hacking cough. Some describe the cough as having a “honky” sound. The dog may act like he has something stuck in his throat and may actually vomit or retch after the cough. A cough caused by canine Bordetella may also worsen with activity or excitement and can last for a few minutes.

Dogs who have canine Bordetella may also have a watery nasal discharge, as well as conjunctivitis and sneezing. Typically, those affected by canine Bordetella have their normal appetite and activity levels. In severe cases and those where secondary bacterial pneumonia has developed, dogs can have fevers, lethargy, breathing difficulties and anorexia.

Environmental Factors

Canine Bordetella is spread from dog to dog. It is often passed when there is a high amount of dogs in one contained area, such as with boarding kennels, shelters, obedience classes, dog parks and dog day care facilities. If your dog has visited any areas such as these and has a dry, hacking cough, there is good probability that she has canine Bordetella. If you take her to her veterinarian, the doctor will likely ask if she has been around other dogs recently. This information is important as it will help the vet accurately diagnose the illness and the proper treatment can be prescribed.

Treatment for Bordetella in Dogs

Canine Bordetella is typically self-limiting, therefore, treatment can vary. Canine Bordetella is usually caused by bacteria. Depending upon the severity of the case, antibiotics may or may not be prescribed. Antibiotics are usually given to reduce the risk of a secondary infection, such as pneumonia, or if it is likely that bacteria has caused the infection. However, treating the canine Bordetella will not reduce the length in which the dog is contagious. The symptoms of canine Bordetella usually occur for about ten days, but the dog is still contagious for six to 14 weeks after the infection is resolved.

In severe cases of canine Bordetella, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics, such as doxycycline or trimethoprim-sulfa. In addition, the veterinarian may also prescribe a cough suppressant or a bronchodialator. 

Prevention for Bordetella in Dogs

Canine Bordetella can be prevented by a number of ways. The easiest method is to keep your dog away from others, especially if you have a puppy, as their immune systems are weak and they can catch illnesses easily. If you cannot prevent interaction between your dog and others, you may want to have your dog vaccinated against canine Bordetella. These vaccines can be given either intranasally or via injection. While the canine Bordetella vaccine is highly effective, it does not totally prevent your dog from contracting the illness.