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Bordetella in Dogs

Bordetella in Dogs

Also known as kennel cough, the Bordetella virus is a highly contagious disease that can impact any dog breed. Here, our Parrish vets share facts about Bordetella in dogs, the Bordetella vaccination, and treatment options for the disease. 

What is Bordetella (Kennel Cough) in Dogs?

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is closely linked to respiratory disease in dogs. Also referred to as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, or infectious tracheobronchitis, Bordetella is one component of the canine infectious respiratory complex. 

Bordetella is technically not the only cause of kennel cough in dogs; it is simply the most common. 

How Do Dogs Get Bordetella?

Dogs that will be in areas where they might come into contact with other dogs, such as at doggy daycares, groomers' facilities, dog parks, and boarding facilities, are at higher risk of contracting this virus and developing signs of an upper respiratory infection. Many boarding facilities require all dogs staying with them to be vaccinated against Bordetella for this reason. 

The most common way dogs catch Bordetella is by inhaling bacterial particles, which then reach the respiratory tract. Due to the particles' presence in the respiratory system, a dog may experience an inflamed voice box or windpipe.

Certain circumstances can increase the chances of a dog catching diseases caused by the bacterium. these include the following:

  • Stress (often brought on by travel issues
  • Exposure to dust or smoke
  • Colder temperatures 
  • Staying in a poorly ventilated space (such as certain kennels)

Symptoms of Bordetella in Dogs 

Bordetella infections in dogs can often bring on a variety of symptoms, including a persistent cough. Dog owners sometimes describe the sound of the cough as resembling that of a honking goose. Vets sometimes refer to this as "reverse sneezing."

Other symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs include:

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Fever
  • A consistently runny nose 
  • Eye discharge 

Treatments for Dogs With Bordetella

The good news is that many cases of Bordetella will go away on their own without any 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.

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.” 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, such as potential reactions.

Your veterinarian may advise against getting the Bordetella vaccine if your dog is immunocompromised, sick, or pregnant. They will also discuss the risks and benefits of the this vaccine with a previous history of vaccine reactions. 

How Long is the Bordetella Vaccine Good for Dogs?

Your veterinarian will recommend that your dog have a Bordetella booster shot every 6 to 12 months based on your pet's risk of exposure to Bordetella. 

This vaccination comes in two forms: an intranasal spray that your vet will administer in your dog's nose, and an injection. Both are comparatively effective. The injectable Bordetella vaccine isn't appropriate for dogs younger than eight weeks. However, the nasal spray can be administered to dogs as young as six weeks old. 

What Are the Potential Side Effects of the Bordetella Vaccine?

Every vaccine has the potential to cause mild adverse reactions and side effects. While seeing your dog experience side effects may worry you, reactions are generally mild and short-lived. It's also important to know they are healthier and safer for having the vaccine. 

Here are the most common side effects of the Bordetella vaccine in dogs:

  • Lethargy
  • Mild fever 
  • Lumps and bumps as a result of skin irritation 
  • Sneezing and cold-like symptoms, such as a cough

If your dog displays any of the symptoms listed above, including a persistent cough, for more than one or two days, contact your vet to seek additional medical care. In extremely rare cases, a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine may require medical intervention. 

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.

Is your dog due for their Bordetella vaccine booster? Contact our Parrish vets to arrange a consultation.

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Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100