By Sarah Stalnaker, DVM
If you search Google for vaccination guidelines for your furry friends you may come across varying opinions on which vaccinations are necessary. You should consult with your veterinarian about vaccines for your dog based on their age, breed, lifestyle, and medical history. One vaccine that is sometimes overlooked by pet owners is the kennel cough vaccine. What is it, and should you have it administered to your dog? The medical name for kennel cough is infectious tracheobronchitis. The typical vaccine includes two components, the Parainfluenza virus and the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, both of which can cause coughing and upper respiratory symptoms in dogs. The cough is typically a dry nonproductive cough and many people describe it as sounding like a honk.
Dogs that rarely leave their own backyard would be considered at very low risk for being exposed to kennel cough. This vaccination is recommended for dogs with lifestyles that bring them into close contact with other dogs. For example, dogs that are boarded, groomed professionally, attend doggie day care, compete in dog shows, participate in training classes, or even dogs who frequent the local dog park are candidates for this vaccination. If this lifestyle describes your dog, speak with your veterinarian about having your pet vaccinated every 6 to 12 months for Bordetella.
The vaccine is administered as nose drops or as an injection. The intranasal vaccine is great for puppies because it does not require a booster. The traditional injectable vaccine is better for dogs that are extremely wiggly or for those who do not like their face touched. It is better to vaccinate your dog a few weeks before they will come in contact with other dogs to allow the vaccine to reach its full potential in their body. When boarding your pet on short notice request that the intranasal vaccine be given because it becomes effective faster than the injectable version. Even with proper vaccination some dogs still develop kennel cough. This is because the vaccination does not provide protection against every type of respiratory virus and bacteria. If your vaccinated dog is exposed to kennel cough, symptoms are typically shorter and milder than those of non-vaccinated dogs. Make sure your socialite is protected against kennel cough through vaccination, and then let the fun begin!