Handsome Zeb above is being fostered and has had the Kennel Cough vaccine to give him extra protection while he looks for a new home.
We have been seeing an increase in the number of coughing dogs coming to the surgery recently and a number of them have been suspected ‘kennel cough’ and it still seems there are a few myths out there so would like to take this opportunity to explain.
Myth – Since my dog had the kennel cough vaccine (bordetella bronchiseptica), they cannot get kennel cough.
Fact – The bordetella vaccine protects against one bacteria… Bordetella bronchiseptica. Thing is, there are a variety of other infectious agents that can cause kennel cough in dogs besides just Bordetella – both viruses and bacteria! Bordetella often is implicated because, even when it is not the primary cause, it can act as a complicating factor in respiratory disease (ie – making sick dogs sicker). So while the bordetella vaccine may not prevent your dog from getting the disease, it can prevent them from getting it very bad. Its similar to us with the flu vaccine in humans. We administer the vaccine up their nose and it only provides immunity in that area. We have yet to develop a more successful vaccine.
Myth – Dogs only get kennel cough if they have been in kennels
Fact – Kennel cough is an airborne disease, like our common cold. It can spread up to 12 feet in every direction from a single cough! Therefore, even kennels who clean and disinfect very regularly cannot prevent dogs from breathing air. That said, the various viruses or bacteria that cause kennel cough can lurk on cage doors, walls, water bowls, etc. They are most commonly transmitted via nose-to-nose contact, which we know happens a lot when there are many dogs in one place! We routinely see dogs with kennel cough that walk in certain hot spots, for example we have lots of clients that attend dog shows. As dogs can be contagious for up to 2 weeks going to a show with an infected dog can cause the spread the disease all around the country!
Kennel cough is really a slang name and if we called it by its proper name Canine infectious respiratory disease people may realise how the disease is transmitted and be more thoughtful to minimise passing on the infection or exposing dogs more at risk.
Myth – All dogs with kennel cough must be treated with antibiotics.
Fact – Most of the time, kennel cough goes away on its own, no antibiotics needed. Again, it’s similar to us having a cold. Like our common cold, most people are uncomfortable, manage the symptoms, and feel better in a week, no antibiotics needed. However, some people have a cold that turns into something more complicated (like a sinus infection in humans). While most dogs cough for a week and get better, some can’t seem to quite get over it and require antibiotics. Particularly if your dog has a fever, or has other complicating factors (such as other lung disease, a bad heart, is undergoing chemotherapy, etc), antibiotics might be needed. This is a decision we make on a case by case basis. As with humans we are trying to only dispense antibiotics if they are needed. Some dogs benefit from anti inflammatory instead and things that we would do like steam and warm honey can help affected dogs. Homeopathic remedies that we use like Echinacea and Vitamin C are safe to be given to dogs.
It is possible to pick up kennel cough anywhere including Mochdre Vets however Pedro and Bert come to work with me every day and have never had it. I believe we take stringent precautions and have high standards of hygiene and cleanliness. We manage suspect kennel cough and the building is laid out so that there are separate entrances and exits to be able to manage cases and we are able to quarantine any suspected cases.