Canine Bordetella

Posted by Karen Egert on

Bordetella, also known as Kennel Cough or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is an airborne bacterial pathogen that infects the upper respiratory tract of dogs, very similar to the common cold in humans.   It is a little more serious for dogs as it can develop into pneumonia.

The symptoms include:
  • A Dry, hacking cough, or honky sound
  • They act like something is stuck in the throat
  • Your dog may actually vomit after coughing
  • Cough can worsen with activity or excitement
  • There may also be a watery nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Conjunctivitis, an infection of the protective membrane of the eye that prevents dirt and debris from entering the eye.
  • Usually, appetite and activity levels are normal
In severe cases, where secondary bacterial pneumonia can develop, fever, lethargy, breathing difficulties and anorexia can occur.

Because it is airborne, this disease is easily spread from dog to dog especially in areas where there are dogs in concentration such as; day care, shelters, obedience classes, dog parks, and boarding facilities.  The symptoms of Bordetella usually occur for about ten days, but the dog is still contagious for 6 to 14 weeks after the infection is resolved. 

Treatment is usually done with antibiotics and cough suppressants. There are two types of vaccines available and are either injected or given intranasally.  If the injection is chosen 2 doses need to be administered 2 to 4 weeks apart.  Please note that after being vaccinated, a dog can “shed” the virus for about 72 hours and possibly infect other dogs.  It can also take up to four days before maximum protection is achieved.

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