Treating Kennel Cough with a Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious disease that can be prevented with the bordetella vaccine for dogs. This infection can spread quickly between dogs in kennels or areas with a large number of dogs. Kennel cough affects the upper respiratory system. This infection can be caused by a viral infection, such as canine distemper, canine coronavirus or parainfluenza. Kennel cough can also be caused by a bacterial infection, like bordetella bronchiseptica. Mycoplasma is also a bacterial infection that is often confused with kennel cough due to the similar symptoms.

Symptoms of a Dog Respiratory Bacterial Infection

Symptoms of kennel cough begin within three to five days after exposure. These symptoms can last between 10 to 20 days. Recurrence can happen if your dog feels stressed, putting tension on the immune system. Your dog may experience some or all of these symptoms.

  • dry hacking or coughing
  • sneezing
  • gagging
  • snorting
  • vomiting due to pressure on the trachea
  • possible fever

Diagnosis of kennel cough is made through these symptoms and a prior history of kennel cough. Cough suppressants are given to reduce cough and antibiotics are used to treat any bacterial infections. When diagnosing kennel cough mycoplasma must be ruled out due to the severity of the infection and different treatment options.

Bordetella Vaccine

The bordetella vaccine is not a core vaccine, which means that it is not a vaccine that is necessary to maintain a healthy dog. The bordetella vaccine is only recommended to your dog if you take him to an area that has a high population of dogs, such as a dog kennel or veterinarian office. These facilities will require the bordetella vaccine. The bordetella vaccine is given to your dog to help decrease the intensity of the disease if he is exposed to kennel cough. Since the distemper virus, adenovirus and parainfluenza virus can be a factor of kennel cough it is suggested that you vaccinate against these viruses. These vaccines are core vaccines and should be given annually. There are two different forms of the bordetella vaccine: the injectable form and the intra nasal form.

  • The injectable bordetella in a series of two vaccines, given 2 to 4 weeks apart then given annually. You can give this vaccine to your dog after 4 months of age. The injectable bordetella offers systemic immunity but does not provide local immunity for the respiratory tract where the infection is occurring. The injectable form will take affect in 4 days.
  • The intra nasal vaccine can be given as early as 3 weeks of age. Your dog only needs one vaccine and will provide protection for 12 months. This offers local immunity response in the respiratory tract and your dog will respond more quickly. Side effects are runny nose and sneezing after vaccination. These effects are temporary and not life threatening
  • Kennel cough weakens your dogs immune system, leaving him more vulnerable to secondary infections such as pneumonia. This can be more serious in puppies and older dogs. Your dog must be quarantined at your home to reduce the risk of infecting other dogs. You should report kennel cough to any kennels or veterinarian offices that your dog attended. Proper disinfecting will be performed in their facilities.