You’ve probably heard of kennel cough, but how much do you really know about this highly contagious illness? Many dogs suffer from Bordetella bronchiseptica, or kennel cough, at some point during their lives, and this common upper respiratory disease can develop into pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization and lifelong complications.

And while most people associate this disease with dogs, cats, rabbits, and people can suffer from bordetella.

While we don’t want to scare you, we do want you to understand the danger of Bordetella and help protect your dog from this serious disease.

What Exactly is Kennel Cough?

So, why does your boarder or doggie daycare require the Bordetella vaccine? Bordetella or kennel cough, is an upper respiratory infection caused by bacteria. Unlike a regular cold or cough, bordetellosis is persistent and lasts much longer. Kennel cough affects the lungs, throat, and airways.

While all bordetellosis is a form of kennel cough, not all kennel cough is bordetellosis. What do we mean by that? Bordetellosis is an infection caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. But this bacteria causes kennel cough so often, the two are usually synonymous.

Like other bacterial infections, kennel cough is spread by an infected dog to an uninfected dog. An infected dog can spread kennel cough weeks to months after symptoms disappear through saliva.

How Does Kennel Cough Affect Dogs?

Kennel cough is not fun for dogs. It can make it hard to breathe and make them feel lethargic. When a dog doesn’t get treatment within the first few days of experiencing symptoms, kennel cough develops into canine flu which causes fever, runny nose, lack of energy, lack of appetite, and labored breathing.

The most common symptoms of kennel cough are:

  • Hacking or dry cough
  • Coughing all night
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Gagging or retching

What Dogs Are Most at Risk?

Puppies are the most vulnerable victims of kennel cough. Because they’re still developing their immune systems, they tend to get sick more easily. They also struggle more once infected with Bordetella.

Senior and pregnant dogs can also suffer severe side effects from kennel cough.

Kennel cough can quickly turn from ‘just a cough’ into pneumonia in these groups.

How Can You Prevent and Protect Your Dog from Bordetella?

Bordetella spreads quickly and easily between dogs. It’s most frequently spread from dog to dog at dog parks, daycares, groomers, and boarding facilities that don’t enforce a bordetella immunization policy.

The best way to prevent your dog from contracting Bordetella is to vaccinate your dog. This vaccine works like the human flu shot. The vaccine contains a small amount of the live bacteria, so your dog’s body can build a resistance to it, so when exposed to it in full-force, her immune system will kick into action and beat that bacteria.

If your dog frequents the dog park or goes on play dates, and you notice another dog coughing, keep your dog away from the coughing dog. It also helps if your dog doesn’t share communal toys or a communal water bowl.

Protect Your Dog Against Bordetella

Kennel cough can really put a damper on your dog’s energy, enjoyment, and health. Don’t let it. If your dog is due for her Bordetella vaccine, make an appointment. Let’s work together to protect your pup!


Image credit: Pexels