All About Bordetella And Canine Cough

All About Bordetella And Canine Cough

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2016Many boarding facilities and doggy daycare’s require your companion dog to have the Bordetella vaccine every six months or annually. This requirement may be due to laws (regional, local, or state), the facility’s insurance purposes, or the belief of those responsible. The shortened interval is because the duration of vaccinated immunity to Bordetella bronchiseptica lasts for only 6 to 12 months.

Excerpt from “KNOW YOUR BORDETELLA VACCINE” by Dr. Jean Dodds, published July 31st, 2016 on
DR. JEAN DODDS’ PET HEALTH RESOURCE BLOG.


Below is a hand-out that we developed at Misty Pines for our staff and clients. If you would like a printed copy, please request one at our front desk.

Brief Overview:

Infectious tracheobronchitis, or canine cough, is a highly contagious, upper-respiratory virus that is spread by any one of numerous agents. Parainfluenza, adenovirus, Bordetella or any combination thereof is most often passed on through the air, but can also be transmitted on hands or clothing. The incubation period of the disease is roughly 3-10 days and an infected pet may be contagious for three weeks after showing the first signs of illness or up to 2 weeks before showing any clinical symptoms. The main symptom is a hacking cough that sounds like a goose honk, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, which can last from a few days to several weeks. Although the cough is very annoying, it does not usually develop into anything more serious; however, just as a common cold, it can lower the dog’s resistance to other diseases making it susceptible to secondary infections, so the dog must be observed closely to avoid complications. Canine cough can be an especially serious problem for puppies and geriatric dogs whose immune systems may be weaker.

Just as in the case of the common cold, canine cough is not “cured” but must run its course; however, any dog displaying signs of a secondary infection should see a veterinarian. Many times an antibiotic will be prescribed as a precaution and sometimes cough suppressants will be used to reduce excessive coughing. Canine cough, just like flu and cold season, is often seasonal. It usually occurs in spring and late fall.

How is it Transmitted?

Airborne organisms are carried in the air by microscopic water vapor and dust particles. The particles, if inhaled, by a susceptible dog, may attach to the lining of the trachea and upper airways. These organisms are easily spread when infected dogs sneeze, bark, cough, or even drool. Some dogs are carriers and can spread the infection for months while not showing any signs. These “carriers” are a source of infection to other dogs. Contact can also occur through hands and clothing. This virus can be present at dogs shows, pet stores, your veterinarians office, and even in your own backyard.

Why are the Chances of Catching it Greater in a Kennel?

A dog encounters two conditions in boarding facilities that do not typically occur at home: 1) they are with a number of potentially contagious dogs 2) the stress and excitement of a less familiar environment, both of which can result in lowered resistance to disease. The more frequently a dog visits the kennel, the greater the chance the dog will gain immunity to the disease. Even during a widespread outbreak, only a small percentage of exposed dogs are affected.

How is it Treated?

Many dogs that contract bordetella will display minor signs of coughing that may last 7-10 days and will not require any medication. The majority of dogs will continue to eat and play except for the annoying, dry, non-productive cough.

The dog should be kept warm in an isolated area with good ventilation. It should be free of drafts. The dog can also be put in a steam filled room or use a cold mist vaporizer several times a day. It is important to keep the dog quiet; any excessive barking may irritate the trachea even more. In some cases the dog may develop a secondary infection. The dog may run a fever, not eat, will have a thick yellow or green nasal discharge, and wheezing. The dog may develop pneumonia which will require immediate veterinary care.

How Can I Protect My Dog?

There are 3 types of vaccines for canine cough; intranasal, injectable, and oral. Some dogs will develop mild symptoms similar to canine cough when given this vaccine. The symptoms will last for several days and the dog will not require medical treatment, but they can also spread it to other dogs. This is the main reason your dog should not be around other dogs after receiving the vaccine. The downfall with both of these vaccines is that they have a short duration. High risk dogs should be vaccinated twice a year. A high risk dog would be one that goes to the kennel, grooming shop, daycare, dog park, or is involved in group training classes. Dogs that have been vaccinated can still contact the disease, but the symptoms are usually not as severe and do not last as long. The vaccines allow them to get rid of the virus quicker. The vaccine should be given at least 10 days before exposure around other dogs.

Why Does Misty Pines Require Bordetella every 6 Months?

Immunity of this vaccine has a short duration and has not been scientifically proven to be effective for one full year. The efficacy of the vaccine is anywhere from six to nine months based on the various researches. Since we have implemented this policy, we have seen a substantial decrease in dogs that have developed the virus while at our facility. Those that have developed it have seemed to have had a shorter duration of the virus with milder symptoms and have recovered quickly.

What Does Misty Pines Do When A Boarding Dog Begins Coughing?

We immediately isolate the dog into our quarantine area of the kennel. The quarantine area is set up like the rest of the facility; indoor/outdoor with radiant floor heating and automatic waterers. It has its own heating, cooling, and ventilation system. The quarantine room also has a separate entrance and exit to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination through the rest of the kennel. We also have a footbath that the kennel staff steps into whenever they enter or exit the quarantine area to avoid contaminating the rest of the facility.

The dog will have their temperature taken and tracked twice daily until they go home. The owners or emergency phone number will be contacted so they are aware of the situation. Our policy states that you must have someone available to pick up your dog within 24 hours in the event of them coughing. If we are unable to get in touch with you or your emergency contact, we will contact Dr. Larrimer of Franklin Park Veterinary Hospital who may want to examine the dog and prescribe antibiotics and/or cough suppressants.

Once we have the dog settled into the quarantine area, the cleaning process begins in the area of the kennel that the dog originated. The cleaning consists of dismantling that kennel to ensure that we disinfect every nook and cranny. The kennel gets soaped down with one of our disinfectants which we let soak for 10 minutes. While that is soaking, we soak the food bowls, water bowl, and water bowl attachments in hot, soapy water. While everything is soaking, we will clean the ceiling fans, exhaust fan, and ceiling vents in that section of the kennel. The kennel is then rinsed thoroughly, bowls washed, and everything gets put back together.

An End Note…

It is impossible for us to tell when there might be a dog here that has been exposed to canine cough prior to their arrival. Remember that the virus is sub-clinical meaning that it does not show visible signs of infection until up to 10 days after being exposed. We are making strong efforts to avoid an outbreak in our facility by requiring biannual Bordetella vaccinations, extensive cleaning and disinfecting procedures in our facility, and public awareness about the virus. While we make every effort to prevent the occurrence of Canine Cough in our kennel, we are unable to give 100% assurance that someone’s dog will not bring it to the kennel while boarding. This is similar to a teacher being unable to give you assurance that when your child goes to school s/he won’t catch a cold or the flu from another student.

Please remember that Misty Pines requires the Bordetella vaccination every six (6) months, so be sure to check your dog’s vaccinations and make sure he’s up-to-date. Scruffy needs to wait at least 5 days before visiting Misty Pines after receiving the Bordetella vaccination so if you have an upcoming reservation or you wanted to bring him to Daycare be sure to plan ahead and give yourself enough time.

Vaccination Requirements for All Services at Misty Pines Pet Company: All dogs must be current on Rabies, DHPP, and Bordetella (Bordetella every 6 months) vaccinations. The Leptosporosis (Lepto/L) vaccine is not required, however, Misty Pines highly recommends that your dog receives it. All pets must have received inoculations at least 10 days prior to their visit to Misty Pines. The waiting period will allow your dog to build sufficient immunity to the vaccinations which will make your dog less susceptible to catching or transferring any unwanted viruses. This includes new and updated vaccinations. Your pet cannot be over due for vaccinations – NO EXCEPTIONS. For example, if your pet is scheduled to visit Misty Pines on May 14 and received vaccinations on May 8, we cannot accept your pet due to the insufficient 10 day waiting period. Please bring vaccination records with you or fax to the Misty Pines office at 412-367-7387.


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