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Bordetella in Dogs

If you have taken your dog to the groomer or are planning to board your dog at a facility while you are away, you may have been asked about protecting your dog from Bordetella. In this article, our vets from Santa Clarita will explain more about this contagious disease.

What Is Bordetella in Dogs?

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a type of bacteria closely linked with respiratory ailments in dogs. It is one of the main culprits in causing the canine infectious respiratory complex, commonly called kennel cough.

It can also cause upper respiratory infections and infectious tracheobronchitis. In fact, Bordetella is the most frequent cause of kennel cough in dogs.

What is Kennel Cough in dogs?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease frequently seen in dogs. It is typically caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus, which attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract, leading to inflammation and irritation of the upper airway.

Although kennel cough is usually not a serious illness for healthy dogs, it can lead to severe secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system. Kennel Cough is named after the highly contagious nature of this condition, which spreads most aggressively in places where pets are in constant close contact with each other, such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes.

Kennel cough is spread through the droplets of saliva from an infected dog coughing. The other dogs might then contact the infected dog or any objects the infected droplets have landed on, such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.

How Do Dogs Get Bordetella?

Dogs that come in contact with other dogs in places like dog parks, daycare, boarding facilities, and groomers have a higher risk of getting infected with Bordetella and exhibiting symptoms of upper respiratory illness. The primary way of transmission is through inhaling bacterial particles, which can cause inflammation in the windpipe or voice box.

Some specific circumstances can increase the chances of a dog catching infections caused by this bacterium. These circumstances include:

  • Colder temperatures
  • Exposure to dust or smoke
  • Stress (often brought on by travel issues)
  • Staying in a poorly ventilated living space (such as certain kennels)

Symptoms of Bordetella in Dogs

Bordetella infections are known to cause persistent cough in dogs, often compared to a goose's honking sound. This cough is sometimes referred to as 'reverse sneezing' by veterinarians.

Apart from coughing, some other symptoms of Bordetella infections in dogs may include:

  • Fever
  • Eye discharge
  • Less of an appetite
  • A consistently runny nose

Treatments for Dogs With Bordetella

The good news is that in most cases, Bordetella should resolve independently without any additional treatments. However, if you bring your dog to the vet, they may prescribe antibiotics to speed up their recovery. Always carefully follow your vet's full dosage instructions for any dog antibiotics.

Vaccines are also available to prevent infections. Your vet can administer vaccines against these diseases by injection or nose drops.

Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

The Bordetella vaccine for dogs is available to protect against a specific virus and is commonly known as the 'kennel cough vaccination.' It is highly recommended for dogs that go to boarding facilities, dog parks, dog daycare, training classes, or dog shows since they are at risk of contracting Bordetella. Many of these facilities require proof of the Bordetella vaccination, so it is in your dog’s best interest to get vaccinated.

While vaccinations are usually safe, any risks associated with them should be taken into consideration. If your dog is pregnant, immunocompromised, or sick, your vet may advise against the Bordetella vaccine and discuss any risks associated with previous vaccines.

You may wonder how long the Bordetella vaccine is effective for dogs. Your veterinarian may suggest a Bordetella booster shot every 6-12 months based on your dog's risk of exposure to Bordetella.

The vaccination comes in two forms: an intranasal spray that is administered in your dog's nose by your vet and an injection. Both forms are comparably effective. The injectable Bordetella vaccine cannot be given to puppies under 8 weeks old, while the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as 6 weeks of age.

Can dogs react to the Bordetella vaccine? How long will the side effects last?

Mild adverse reactions may occur when your pup is vaccinated, and they should be expected. These reactions are usually temporary and not severe. While it can be concerning to see your dog experience these side effects, it is important to remember that vaccinations are necessary for the health and safety of your pet. Knowing what to expect after your dog receives the Bordetella vaccine can help ease the process for you and your furry friend. Below are some of the most common side effects your dog may experience from the Bordetella vaccination.

  • Lethargy
    After receiving the Bordetella vaccine, dogs often experience some feelings of malaise, lethargy, or discomfort. A mild fever accompanies these reactions because the dog's immune system responds to the vaccine. It's normal to experience these symptoms, and they should only last for a day or two.
  • Lumps & Bumps
    Lumps and bumps can appear near the injection site if your dog gets the injectable Bordetella vaccine. A small, firm bump might develop, along with some tenderness and stiffness in the area. Usually, these bumps are merely a result of skin irritation, but any time the skin is punctured, there's a risk of infection. It is important to monitor the injection site and look for signs of swelling, redness, discharge, and pain. If left untreated, infected areas can lead to more severe conditions.
  • Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms
    If your dog received the Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray, it's common for them to develop cold symptoms, which is a normal reaction.

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.

Does your dog need their Bordetella vaccine? Contact Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic today to schedule your dog's preventive protection against this nasty virus.

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Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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