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What is kennel cough and why is it important?

Kennel cough is an infectious condition which causes a harsh cough in affected dogs. Most cases are not serious but can make your dog feel poorly for a few days before resolving.

A few unlucky patients may cough continuously and feel really under the weather for a few weeks. We can often help to make your dog feel better if they are suffering from kennel cough so please let us know if we can help.

How is kennel cough spread?

Kennel cough is highly contagious and spreads easily through airborne droplets. This means that dogs that are kept closely together (in kennels, doggy day care centres, parks, across garden fences, vet’s waiting rooms etc) can spread the infection between themselves easily. It is also possible for a dog to pick up kennel cough without meeting an infected dog if they walk in the same area.


What causes kennel cough?

Kennel cough is caused by different viruses and bacteria acting together.  Environmental factors can also play a part.


Can kennel cough be protected against?

No vaccine can offer complete protection against kennel cough (this is because the viruses and bacteria involved can be different from one case to another).  Thankfully we do have vaccines available which help protect against the most commonly involved virus (canine parainfluenza virus) and the most commonly involved bacteria (Bordetella bronchiseptica).

Many dogs have protection against the parainfluenza virus via their yearly vaccinations.  Vaccines against Bordetella are also available and are traditionally given as drops up the nose.  We are able to also offer a Bordetella vaccine that is given into the cheek pouch of your dog.

Many boarding kennels, dog walkers and doggy day care centres require Bordetella vaccination.


Should I have my dog vaccinated against kennel cough?

We recommend that you consider the Bordetella vaccine if your dog is healthy dog and socially active – if it meets other dogs in kennels, doggy day care or out on walks or if it walks on areas that other dogs also enjoy.

My dog is due to go into kennels, when should I make an appointment for the kennel cough vaccination?

The new Bordetella vaccine which is given into your dog’s cheek pouch needs to be given 21 days before your dog goes into kennels to ensure that it is providing optimal protection against the bacteria.

If your dog is socially active all year we would advise you consider having the vaccine administered at the time of your dog’s annual vaccinations. (We offer a discount making it a more cost-effective option as well).


Are there risks or side effects of vaccination?

Some dogs have mild symptoms of coughing, sneezing or discharge from the eyes or nose for a few days following the vaccine.  Occasionally these signs persist for longer.  Other side effects are extremely rare.


Are there are any reasons why my dog should not be vaccinated against kennel cough?

Your dog should not receive Bordetella vaccination if they:

  • Are already receiving antibiotics (the vaccine is unlikely to do harm but it probably won’t work)
  • Are Coughing or has a known respiratory condition.
  • Are suffering from a known problem with their immune system, if a problem with your dog’s immune system is strongly suspected by your vet or if your dog is receiving drugs to suppress its immune system.
  • Have previously had a serious adverse reaction to vaccination.
  • Have had a vaccine made by a different vaccine company within the previous 2 weeks (we can advise you on this)
  • Is generally unwell (the vaccine may not work).


Please Note:

If you are immunocompromised or if any member of your family/close friends who come into contact with your dog are immunocompromised, please let us know before we administer the Bordetella vaccination so we can discuss this with you in further details.

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