I’m going to be boarding my dog for the holidays but I was told I need a kennel cough vaccine. What is that?
Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease of dogs and, less commonly, cats caused by a bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica. While related to the bacteria that causes pertussis or whooping cough, bordetella or kennel cough is not contagious to humans. Dogs with kennel cough are often co-infected with other viruses or bacterial infections.
Kennel cough is most common in young dogs housed together in areas like boarding kennels, pet stores, or shelters. It is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or through airborne droplets containing the bacteria that are inhaled.
Most cases of kennel cough are mild, and can cause a very deep, hoarse cough and sensitivity to the windpipe. In rare cases, kennel cough infection can progress to pneumonia with more severe symptoms like fever, cough, loss of appetite and nasal discharge.
Kennel cough can be treated with antibiotics and is preventable with either an intranasal or injectable vaccine. Affected dogs should be isolated from other dogs for two to four weeks though the bacteria may be shed in nasal secretions for up to three months.
Any dog who frequently stays at a boarding kennel or is exposed to lots of other dogs in situations such as dog shows, agility training, playing at a dog park or spending time at a grooming or doggie daycare facility would benefit from the preventative vaccine.
If your dog is in any of these situations on a regular basis, talk to your veterinarian about vaccination. You should also contact your vet if your pet is coughing, as prompt treatment helps prevent progression to pneumonia.
Thomas Schaeberle, VMD