Kennel Cough in Dogs
By Shawn Messonnier, DVM
What it is: Kennel cough is the common term applied to a respiratory problem in canines similar to the human cold. Like the human cold, there are many causes of kennel cough. Most commonly, two organisms are responsible for kennel cough infections: Bordetella bronchisepticum bacterium and Parainfluenza virus.
Prevention: The kennel-cough vaccine is available in two forms: injectable or intranasal (nose-drop) form. Most veterinarians prefer to use the intranasal form because it produces quicker immunity, does not cause swelling, and has none of the side effects of the injectable form, such as pain at the injection site. According to the manufacturer of the vaccine, kennel-cough immunizations should be given every six months, especially the intranasal form. In reality, immunity can last quite a bit longer than that, possibly even several years following a vaccination.
Note: Despite adequate vaccination, dogs can still get kennel cough even if they are not exposed to other pets. There are so many organisms that can cause kennel cough, and our current vaccines contain only two of these. Additionally, many pets are vaccinated within hours of entering a boarding or grooming facility, making the vaccine ineffective in preventing Bordetella or Parainfluenza infection. In these cases, it seems as if the mandatory vaccination is more to protect the facility legally than to help the pet medically.
Photo credit: Illustration by Wendy Wahman
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