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Kennel Cough Explained

Published on October 10, 2014

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Why did my dog still get kennel cough even though it had a Bordetella vaccine?

Kennel cough is a common term to describe a respiratory cough and symptoms, usually following your dog being boarded, groomed or a visit to the dog park.  It is caused by several pathogens both viral and bacterial.  These include: Parainfluenza, Adenovirus, Canine respiratory coronavirus, Canine herpes virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Mycoplasma spp. and Strep. zooepidemicus.  Kennel cough is now better termed as Canine: Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC).

Environmental factors and host immune response also play an important role in the development of CIRDC.  Unfortunately, CIRDC is not a vaccine preventable condition. But by vaccinating for some of the pathogens, it will allow partial protection and decrease the severity of the infection if it should occur.

Some great information to help a dog recover from this condition and lead a long and healthy life are listed below:

  • Kennel cough is very common, contagious and very rarely fatal
  • It is spread by air and hands (similar to the common cold spreading through a child’s daycare)
  • It can spread to other dogs in the house very easily, however, vaccinated and healthy dogs in a home usually only develop mild signs after exposure to an infected dog
  • Keeping your dog in a stress-free home will help them recover within a few weeks
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Severe, untreated cases can develop into pneumonia so if you notice excessive sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge….make an appointment with your veterinarian today!

Vaccines to administer to your pets to help reduce the risk for the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex would include: DHPP, Bordetella and Canine Influenza Vaccine.

Any questions, please feel free to contact me at

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