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Bordetella in Dogs

Commonly referred to as kennel cough, the Bordetella virus is a highly contagious disease that dogs of any breed can contract. Here, our veterinarians in Pittsboro list the signs, causes, treatment, and tips to prevent Bordetella in dogs. 

What is Bordetella (Kennel Cough) in Dogs?

The bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica is closely related to respiratory disease in dogs. One of the components of the canine infectious respiratory complex, Bordetella is sometimes referred to as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, or infectious tracheobronchitis. 

Dogs are often required to be vaccinated against Bordetella to enter kennels, daycare centers, training areas, parks, dog shows and other canine facilities. This is because the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is the most common cause of kennel cough in dogs. 

Though Bordetella is not the only cause of kennel cough in dogs, it is the most common. 

How Dogs Contract Bordetella 

In settings with higher, more concentrated populations of dogs (such as those mentioned above), your dog is more likely to come into contact with the Bordetella virus and develop symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. 

Inhaling bacterial particles is the primary way in which dogs catch Bordetella. When these particles get into the upper respiratory tract, a dog's windpipe or voice box (larynx) can become inflamed. 

Some circumstances can increase the risk of a dog catching diseases caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium. These include:

  • Exposure to smoke or dust 
  • Staying in a poorly ventilated living space (like certain kennels)
  • Colder temperatures 
  • Stress (often brought on during or after travel) 

Symptoms of Bordetella in Dogs 

Kennel cough in dogs primarily appears as a dry, persistent cough. Some people say that the sound of this cough is similar to that of a goose's honk. 

Other signs of a Bordetella infection to watch for include:

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Discharge from eyes 
  • Fever 
  • A consistently runny nose

Treating Dogs with Bordetella 

Fortunately, many cases of Bordetella in dogs and their associated symptoms will disappear without any treatment. If you're worried about your dog's cough and decide to bring them to the vet, they might prescribe antibiotics to help expedite their recovery. Always follow the full dosage of any medicine prescribed by your veterinarian.

Vaccines are also available to prevent your dog from developing this condition. 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.

Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

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.”

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.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects in Dogs

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.

How Long is the Bordetella Vaccine Good for in Dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine is typically administered annually, although boarding facilities or pet hospitals may recommend it every six months.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Would you like to have your dog vaccinated against Bordetella? Contact our vets in Pittsboro today to book an appointment.

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