Bordetella is an extremely contagious disease that causes dogs to have a constant hacking cough. It spreads rapidly from one unvaccinated dog to the next through particles discharged into the air when an infected dog coughs or sneezes. It’s caused in part by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, but other factors, such as Adenovirus Type II, the parainfluenza virus and various other infectious organisms can also contribute. The speed with which this disease can infect all the dogs in one location has earned it the nickname “kennel cough.”
Although Bordetella is often mild and eventually goes away on its own, some dogs can develop serious complications such as pneumonia. Even if they don’t, the cough can linger for weeks. Most boarding kennels won’t accept dogs who haven’t been vaccinated against Bordetella. Many obedience classes and other canine social situations will also turn unvaccinated dogs away. While vaccination doesn’t guarantee that a dog won’t get kennel cough, since more than just the Bordetella bacteria is often involved, if he does get sick it’s likely to be a mild case.
For maximum protection the vaccine is given at least one to two weeks before he goes to the kennel. The vaccine may be administered as an injection or as a nasal vaccine, where some is squirted up each nostril. It doesn’t require an immediate booster, but dogs should get an annual booster. Dogs that are going to be boarded should have been vaccinated within the six months immediately preceding their arrival at the kennel.
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