Bordetella, commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious disease that leaves dogs with a harsh, dry cough. Today, our Austin vets discuss Bordetella in dogs including causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Bordetella in Dogs
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is closely related to respiratory disease in dogs. It is one of the components of the canine infectious respiratory complex, sometimes referred to as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, or infectious tracheobronchitis.
Bordetella is not technically the only cause of kennel cough in dogs, it is simply the most common.
How Dogs Get Bordetella
Dogs who will be in areas where they may come into contact with other dogs such as doggy daycare, the groomers, the dog park, and boarding facilities, are more likely to come into contact with this virus and develop signs of an upper respiratory infection. Many boarding facilities require all dogs staying with them to be vaccinated against bordetella for this reason.
The main way dogs catch Bordetella is by inhaling bacterial particles. When these particles make their way to the respiratory tract, the dog can experience an inflamed windpipe or voice box.
Certain situations can increase the chances of a dog catching diseases caused by the bacterium. 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)
Signs of Bordetella in Dogs
Symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs primarily manifest as a persistent cough. Dog owners often say that the sound of the cough resembles that of a honking goose. Vets sometimes call this “reverse sneezing.”
Some other symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs include:
- Eye discharge
- Less of an appetite
- A consistently runny nose
Treating Bordetella in Dogs
The good news is that many cases of Bordetella will go away without additional treatment. But if you do bring your dog to your vet, they might prescribe antibiotics to help speed up recovery. Always follow the full dosage of any medicine prescribed by your vet.
Vaccines are also available to prevent infections. Your vet can administer vaccines against these diseases either by injection or via nose drops. These vaccinations are generally required if you wish to board your pet overnight
Vaccinating Dogs Against Bordetella
The Bordetella vaccine for dogs protects against this specific virus and is widely available to keep your dog safe from kennel cough. You may have heard it called the “kennel cough vaccine.” The intranasal version of the vaccine is typically administered annually, although boarding facilities or hospitals may recommend it every six months.
If your dog goes to dog parks, boarding facilities, dog daycare, or attends training classes or dog shows, then they are at risk for contracting bordetella. Many of these facilities require dogs to come with proof of the Bordetella vaccination, so it is in your dog’s best interest for his health and extracurricular activities to get the vaccine.
Vaccinations are usually very safe, but the benefits of vaccinations must be weighed against any risks. Your veterinarian may advise against getting the Bordetella vaccine if your dog is immunocompromised, sick, or pregnant, and they will discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine for dogs with a previous history of vaccine reactions.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.