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The Importance of the Bordatella Vaccine (aka. Kennel Cough)

When you get your annual vaccines it seems like there are so many shots. It can make you question if you need all of them! Honestly, a shot like the rattlesnake vaccine is not necessary unless you hike a lot. New Mexico does have a lot of rattlesnakes. The Bordatella vaccine, however, is incredibly important if your dog comes into contact with any other dog, or any place another dog has been.

What Is Bordetella (Kennel Cough)?

Bordatella is also known as kennel cough. It is called this because it is highly contagious and in a kennel situation it will travel quickly to every dog in the kennel. This vaccine is often required by doggie day care, boarding kennels, dog shows, dog parks, and dog training classes.

Kennel cough is an inflammation of the upper respiratory system. The inflammation causes the coughing and can make your dog susceptible to other infections. Don’t let the name kennel cough fool you, that is the common name for the illness. It would make it easier if they called the vaccine the Kennel Cough vaccine, but they like to keep it confusing.

Kennel cough can be a catch all phrase for upper respiratory illness. It is most commonly caused by bordatella. It is spread by dogs having contact with each other, sharing the same space, or even walking where another sick dog has been. Thankfully it is not fatal but because it makes your dog vulnerable to other infections, those can be fatal. It can also lead to fatal bronchopneumonia which is more common in puppies, older dogs, or immune-comporomised dogs.

How do you catch kennel cough?

Kennel cough is highly contagious. You can catch it through:

  • droplets in the air coming from sneezing and coughing.
  • contact with contaminated surfaces such as toys, water bowls, food bowls, kennel runs, and even you

Kennel cough will live on a surface for up to 48 hours. This means that you could take your dog to a park where a sick dog had been, you dog grabs a stick that the sick dog picked up, and now he has kennel cough. You could also touch something that a sick dog contaminated and then touch your dog and make him sick. This is why, even if you don’t think your dog gets exposed, they are always at risk. During the pandemic, when non of us were leaving the house, was likely the safest time, but only if you were disinfecting everything that came into your house. Now the world is opening back up and as we return to normal we return to higher risks.

How do you know if it is kennel cough?

If you have heard it you would know. I know, that is not very helpful. Kennel cough sounds like a loud hacking cough. They can also have a runny nose, sneezing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and a fever. These symptoms can also indicate other more serious illnesses, so if your dog has these, make sure to call the vet. Also, if you suspect your dog of having kennel cough, or if they have any cough, let your vet know ahead of your visit. They may have special instructions for you for your visit.

How do you treat kennel cough?

Thankfully, even though it is highly contagious, it is very treatable. You will likely be given cough medicine and possibly antibiotics to make sure no secondary infections takes hold.


Do you have to get the bordatella vaccine?

If it doesn’t kill your dog is it necessary? Yes, the answer is yes. It can still make your dog very sick and will put other dogs at risk. Most dog facilities will also require you to get the vaccine. It is


When Should My Dog Get a Bordetella Vaccine?

The best way to determine when or if your dog needs the Bordetella vaccine is to consult your veterinarian. In general, healthy adult dogs that come into contact with large groups of other dogs should have a Bordetella vaccine annually, and boarding facilities may require a booster within the last six months. Talk to your veterinarian about protecting your puppy from Bordetella with a vaccination at the appropriate age.

Are There Risks Associated With the Bordetella Vaccine?

Vaccinations are usually a very safe medical procedure, and the compelling benefits of vaccinations must be weighed against any risks. However, your veterinarian may advise against getting the Bordetella vaccine if your dog is immunocompromised, sick, or pregnant, and she will discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine for dogs with a previous history of vaccine reactions.

While Bordetella is the most common cause of kennel cough in dogs, it is not the only one. Other bacteria and viruses, including the parainfluenza virus, can also cause kennel cough, which means that even vaccinated dogs can get kennel cough from another source. This is why it is important for owners to be aware of the symptoms of kennel cough, even if their dogs have had the Bordetella vaccine.

For more information about Bordetella and kennel cough, contact your veterinarian.