Kennel Cough is an infectious disease of the upper airways of the dog that leads to a very nasty cough. It is passed from dog to dog through the air when the dog coughs and is most commonly seen in dogs staying in boarding kennels, but will of course occur wherever an infected dog meets others. The more dogs present in close proximity the greater the risk. There are a number of different viruses and bacteria involved in causing this condition. Often a mix of viral and bacteria are present in any one case. Each outbreak can have a different combination of these disease-forming organisms.
The bacterium Bordatella Bronchiseptica is commonly a major contributor to the disease and is often associated with a more serious cough. It is not included in your dog’s normal vaccination which is given by injection. There is a vaccine available to protect against this bacterium that is given by the intra-nasal (into the nose) as it gives better protection. This will not give guaranteed prevention of kennel cough because of the range of organisms involved but when symptoms do arise they are usually milder and shorter lived.
If taking your dog to a boarding kennel or training classes with other dogs it will help to reduce the risk of your dog catching this distressing condition. Note that a dog can be infectious in the early stages before it shows any symptoms. Please ask your Vet about this vaccine. It can be given from three weeks of age onwards
Roland Stevens, MRCVS
Bourne Vets at Exeter Veterinary Centre