What is Bordetella in dogs?
Bordetella bronchiseptica is one bacterial component of the canine infectious respiratory complex (often referred to as kennel cough), upper respiratory infections, and/or infectious tracheobronchitis. It is closely associated with respiratory disease in dogs.
Bordetella is the most common cause of kennel cough in dogs.
How do dogs get Bordetella?
If your dog interacts with other dogs at daycare, boarding facilities, dog parks, and groomers, they are much more likely to become infected and develop symptoms of upper respiratory illness.
The most common way dogs catch Bordetella is by inhaling particles of bacteria. These particles enter the upper respiratory tract, and then trigger inflammation in the windpipe or voice box.
Certain circumstances can increase the risk of a dog catching diseases caused by the bacterium. These include the following:
- Exposure to smoke or dust
- Colder temperatures
- Staying in a poorly ventilated living space (such as certain kennels)
- Stress (often brought on when traveling)
Symptoms of Bordetella in Dogs
Dogs with Bordetella will often develop a persistent cough. Dog parents will often compare the sound of the cough to a goose's honk. Vets will also often sometimes call this 'reverse sneezing'.
Some other symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs include:
- A consistently runny nose
- Discharge from the eyes
- Reduced appetite
Treatments for Dogs With Bordetella
The good news is that in many cases, Bordetella should resolve itself on its own without any additional treatments. However, if you do bring your dog in to see your vet, they may prescribe them antibiotics to help speed their recovery. Always follow the full dosage instructions provided by your vet for any dog antibiotics.
Vaccines are also available to prevent infections. Your vet can administer vaccines against these diseases either by injection or via nose drops.
Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs
The Bordetella vaccine for dogs protects against a specific virus and is widely available to help keep your dog safe from kennel cough. It may also be called the 'kennel cough vaccination.' The intranasal version of this vaccine is generally administered annually, although boarding facilities and hospitals may recommend it every six months.
If your dog goes to dog parks, boarding facilities, dog daycare, or attends training classes or dog shows, then they are at risk for contracting Bordetella. Many of these facilities require dogs to come with proof of the Bordetella vaccination, so it is in your dog’s best interest for his health and extracurricular activities to get the vaccine.
Vaccinations are usually very safe, but the benefits of vaccinations should be weighed against the infrequent risks associated with them. Your vet may advise against the Bordetella vaccine if your dog is pregnant, immunocompromised, or sick and will speak with you about any risks that may be associated with a previous history of vaccines.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.