“Kennel cough” is a term in dogs that is similar to saying a human has a cold. There is not a single bacteria or virus that causes kennel cough in dogs. In fact, dogs don’t have to be kenneled in order to get kennel cough. They just have to be in relative close contact with an affected dog. This may happen at a kennel, but could also happen at a grooming salon, dog show, dog park, or even a one-on-one interaction.
Dogs that are at high risk of developing kennel cough are recommended to receive the Bordetella vaccine. Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that causes a severe form of cough and respiratory infection in dogs; it is related to the bacteria that causes whooping cough in humans. The most common Bordetella vaccine we use at Woodland Veterinary Hospital is an intranasal dose of Bronchi-Shield III, which protects against two viruses (parainfluenza and adenovirus-2) in addition to Bordetella.
However, just as a human can get a flu shot and still get a cold, it is possible for dogs to get the “kennel cough” vaccine and still end up with a cough from one of any number of other pathogens. Usually, these coughs are mild and go away within a few weeks; sometimes, they require medical treatment.
It is still important for at-risk dogs to get the Bordetella vaccine. Our boarding facility requires that dogs be current on a Bordetella vaccine in order to stay here. If you have any questions about whether a Bordetella vaccine is right for your dog, or if you have concerns that your dog may have kennel cough, please call Woodland Veterinary Hospital at (530) 666-2461.