Kennel Cough

Boarding Your Dog? Get the Kennel Cough Vaccine!

With the holidays almost upon us, I thought it might be a good time to talk about a disease that is commonly seen after a dog has been at a boarding or grooming facility. Kennel Cough, or Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It typically causes a sudden, hoarse, “honk-like” cough. Owners often think that their dog has something caught in its throat, as the dog may seem like it is trying to “hack something up”. This cough will often keep the dog (and the owner!) awake at night, and it can persist for several days to even weeks.

Kennel Cough is caused by a mixture of bacteria and viruses, with the main components being the Bordetella bacteria and the Canine Parainfluenza virus. Dogs that contract the Bordetella portion of the disease will have the most severe coughs. The symptoms of kennel cough usually appear 3-10 days post exposure. Most infections will eventually resolve without treatment, but, rarely, a dog may acquire a more severe form that can lead to life-threatening pneumonia. Medications prescribed by a veterinarian will greatly alleviate symptoms and decrease recovery time.

Most boarding facilities will require that your dog be vaccinated for Bordetella, along with its other vaccines. If you are planning on boarding your dog, we recommend that they get the vaccine, ideally, at least 2 weeks beforehand. If your dog gets groomed regularly or mingles with other dogs at the park, we highly recommend adding the Bordetella vaccine into your dog’s vaccine protocol. Bacterial vaccines do not last as long as viral vaccines, so it must be boostered every 6 months for your dog to stay protected.

Because Kennel Cough is caused by agents other than Bordetella, the vaccine does not completely prevent them from acquiring the disease. However, a vaccinated dog that develops symptoms of kennel cough will have a much milder form of the disease and will be easier to treat. If you have any other questions or concerns about this disease, please give us a call!

-Ryan Roberts, DVM