Bordetella: Does Your Dog Really Need the Kennel Cough Vaccine?

Written by Jan on March 21, 2012 – 12:01 am

News from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Vaccine Guideline’s Group: Vaccine Guidelines, page 11: “Canine respiratory
disease complex (kennel cough) is not a vaccine-preventable disease and the vaccine should only be used to help manage the disease.” That is, don’t waste your money.

Unfortunately, your veterinarian, kennel owner, trainer, day care provider or groomer says your dog should/must be vaccinated against kennel cough, but you’re trying not to over-vaccinate.

What should you do?

More and more, people with pets are finding another vet, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer — or keeping their pet at home!  Vaccination is a serious medical procedure with significant risks.  If that weren’t bad enough, the “kennel cough” vaccine is unlikely to prevent kennel cough! It can even produce kennel-cough like symptoms. The WSAVA Guidelines say, “Transient (3–10 days) coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge may occur in a small percentage of vaccinates.” It can also cause a serious anaphylactoid reaction. Look up anaphylactoid. You won’t like it.

Regarding kennels, day care and grooming facilities: In general, if they have good ventilation and practice good hygiene, kennel cough shouldn’t even be an issue. Bordetella is not for dogs playing together in well-ventilated areas — like dog parks or backyards or living rooms. It’s for dogs in close quarters, like kennels. That’s why it’s called kennel cough!

Think of kennel cough as a canine cold, transmitted as human colds are transmitted — from an infected individual in close contact with an individual with compromised immunity.  Like a cold, it is also considered a mild self-limiting disease.  If humans can’t effectively be vaccinated against a cold, how can pets? A veterinarian friend uses an OTC remedy called B & T Cough and Bronchial Syrup to treat the cough.  For small dogs she uses the children’s variety.  See your vet for further treatment information.

If your service provider is afraid your dog will contract kennel cough at their establishment, offer to sign a waiver saying you’ve been informed of the risk and will waive liability if your pet falls ill. That should do it.  Should.  It’s often just liability at issue, not a question of health.

If the person insisting on the bordetella vaccine is afraid other dogs at their establishment will contract kennel cough from your unvaccinated dog, this person clearly doesn’t trust that the vaccinated dogs actually have immunity. If they don’t believe the vaccine is protective,  why insist that you or anyone else vaccinate?

Note: If you decide to give the vaccine, make sure it is the intranasal form, that is, given as nose drops, not injected.  And give the vaccine at least 2 weeks before contact with other dogs, for the sake of both your dog and other dogs.

Don’t take my word for any of this. Read what three vets and a PhD have to say about the bordetella vaccine:

World-renowned vaccination scientist, Dr. Ronald Schultz, says [emphasis mine]: “Many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and CPI and/or CAV-2 every 6 to 9 months without evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and disease is not seen. Read more »

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Tags: bordatella, bordetella, cough, dog, kennel cough, Vaccination, vaccine
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