“Kennel Cough” is a term used to describe a group of several types of highly infectious diseases that are easily spread when dogs are close together, i.e., in a boarding or grooming situation, the park, or a pet store. Kennel cough is spread mostly through the air, but can also be spread by shared cages, stools, or anything else contaminated with respiratory secretions. Kennel cough is extremely contagious, and simply being in the same room as an infected dog allows easy transmission. Cats CAN get kennel cough, but do not as commonly.
The agents that cause kennel cough are a mixed group of bacteria and viruses, the worst of which is Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacteria.
3. How serious is it?
That depends on the individual and their ability to fight it off, as well as early medical attention. Kennel cough can range from a mild, self-limiting cough to fatal pneumonia.
4. How can we prevent kennel cough?
Of course, the best way to prevent kennel cough is to prevent exposure to an infected dog. Luckily, we do have a vaccination against Bordetella for dogs who visit “public places”. The vaccination comes in oral, intranasal and injectable forms. ESAC uses the oral vaccination. The bad news about the vaccination is that it only works about 80% of the time, the vaccine must be booster yearly. It also only prevents the Bordetella-type of kennel cough, thus a well-vaccinated dog CAN still contract kennel cough.
Another important thing to note is that the vaccination takes a minimum of 72 hours to build immunity, even with a booster on a well-vaccinated dog. This is why it is so important for dogs to be up to date on their vaccinations BEFORE they arrive for a boarding visit.
5. What do our clients need to know?
We need to educate our clients about kennel cough. They need to know how contagious it is and that the vaccination is not a 100% protection, especially if the booster is done while the dog is at boarding facility or given less than 72 hours minimum before arrival. Even dogs in for grooming need to be up to date on their vaccinations! To decrease the risk of contracting kennel cough, dogs need to be vaccinated for kennel cough at a minimum of 72 hours prior to arrival at a boarding facility, or already be current on their Bordetella vaccination.
We know that our clients want to keep their pets as healthy and as low- risk as we keep ours. Also, our job is to be the pet’s advocate by always recommending the best medicine possible.