Facts About the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

A border collie visiting a veterinarian.

When it comes to vaccinations for dogs, East Sacramento Veterinary Center knows it isn’t one size fits all. Not all pups need protection against all diseases. Our expert team will definitely recommend the ones we think will most benefit your individual pet, but having some basic understanding on your own is a great thing. The Bordetella vaccine, which protects against kennel cough, is one that many pet owners ask about. Read on to learn about the Bordetella vaccine and whether it is right for your pet. 

All About Kennel Cough

The term kennel cough is used to describe contagious upper respiratory symptoms experienced by our canine family members. 

More correctly-termed canine infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is not caused by one organism. It can be caused by several bacteria or viruses, and often a combination of two or more.

Common causes of kennel cough in dogs include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine adenovirus 
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Mycoplasma
  • Canine influenza
  • Herpesvirus
  • Reovirus.

Pets can be exposed to an infected dog through direct contact with respiratory secretions or contaminated fomites such as toys, bowls, and surfaces. Infected dogs begin to show symptoms within 2-14 days after exposure. 

Classically, dogs with kennel cough will exhibit a goose-honk cough. Some may also have some clear nasal discharge and/or retching.

Most healthy pets can recover from kennel cough, however in rare instances, it can lead to pneumonia. These pets will be lethargic, often have a fever, and may experience breathing difficulties and decreased appetite.  Kennel cough is also extremely contagious. 

Is the Bordetella Vaccine Right for Your Dog?

Because kennel cough is not necessarily caused by any single organism, it is not possible to provide a vaccination that is 100% effective. Vaccination against some of the more common culprits, though, can help to lessen your pet’s chance of becoming severely ill and minimize outbreaks.

In general, Bordetella vaccination is recommended for dogs who:

  • Will be boarded at a kennel
  • Go to the grooming salon
  • Attend doggy day care or playdates
  • Go to the dog park
  • Attend training classes
  • Are very young, old, or have a weaker immune system

Kennel cough vaccination is recommended at least annually for at risk pets as part of their wellness plan. This helps to ensure that if your dog is exposed, they will have a better immune response and likely lesser illness.

The Bordetella vaccine is not perfect, but it is a powerful tool in our arsenal to help minimize illness and prevent the implications of an outbreak in an environment like a boarding facility.

Please ask us if you have questions about the Bordetella vaccine for your pet. Kennel cough is no fun, and we are here to help you best protect your pet.