Your vacation plans are all set and you have tickets to that once in a lifetime trip to Paris, France. Your luggage is packed, and your passport is up to date. The only fly in the ointment is the fact you’re your loyal canine companion will not be able to make this trip with you. He will need to remain behind, yet you do not want him to spend a whole week all by himself at home. After all, dogs are pack animals and loneliness can cause some serious depression in a dog. Yet none of your friends or family members is willing or able to take in your fluffy friend, and so you are contacting the local kennels to ask about having your dog boarded in your absence. No matter whom you speak to, everyone always asks if your canine friend’s Bordetella vaccine is up to date, and you are beginning to wonder just what it is that they are asking you.
Bordetella is often referred to as kennel cough since it is a respiratory disease. A bacterial infection, it may occur when dogs are kept in close contact with other dogs, such as a boarding kennel, during a dog show, or even at the groomer’s. A vaccination usually conveys the immunity needed to help your canine meet and greet other dogs without picking up bacteria.
You know that your pooch has picked up a case of kennel cough if you suddenly hear him cough repeatedly. The inflammation of the windpipe as well as the air passages will result in frequent coughing spells, some of which will be followed up by vomiting. Dog lovers are quick to point out usually a case of kennel cough is relatively harmless and actually goes away on its own within a couple of weeks. Yet this should not lure you into a lax habit when it comes to vaccinating your canine friend! As a matter of fact, some dogs do develop serious complications that may actually result in life-threatening conditions. In addition to the foregoing, if you fail to vaccinate your dog, and even if she or he comes through a bout of kennel cough with no problem, he will still be a carrier and infection other dogs that may not be so lucky. Here the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” most certainly does apply!
Fortunately, an intranasal vaccination will protect your dog against Bordetella. The vaccine is also available as an injection, and some vets do prefer to give it via the needle. If you anticipate exposure to other dogs, perhaps you are planning to enter your dog at the local dog show or you may need to board her or him briefly while you are away, it is a good idea to give your dog a booster vaccination at least one week ahead of time. Otherwise, you can simply include this vaccination during your regular annual vet visit.
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Of course, other than preventing your dog from catching this very contagious disease, there is another good reason why this particular dog vaccination is a good idea: you and your veterinarian will be able to exclude Bordetella infection from the list of culprits if your canine companion suddenly suffers from an inexplicable cough. Keeping in mind that coughing may be a sign of allergies, bronchitis, and even throat irritation after prolonged time periods of barking, it will help your vet to determine which route to take when treating your pooch.
As you can see, pet owners, or pet parents as some like to be called, have the important responsibility of ensuring their dog’s continued health, and a simple vaccination goes a long way in stacking the deck in her or his favor. Much like human influenza, however, it is important to note that a Bordetella vaccination does not guarantee your dog’s immunity from the bacteria. As a matter of fact, if your dog becomes exposed to it too soon after vaccination, odds are that immunity has not yet built up. Similarly, if your dog has already been exposed to the bacteria, then a vaccination will be too little too late. It is important at that point to find out where the dog has become infected and the facility that they may have an outbreak on their hands. At the same time, alert your veterinarian to the exposure and have your dog treated.