Canine Cough

Everything you need to know about Bordetella


Has your child ever come home from school with that runny nose and a little cough, courtesy of their classmates? Well, believe it or not, the same thing can happen to your dog!

Your fur baby may have picked up Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, also known as Bordetellosis. This is an upper respiratory disease among dogs, characterized by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi in the lungs. Symptoms of Bordetellosis include a persistent hacking cough or retching, sneezing, and watery nasal discharge. Only in very severe cases does it affect the dog’s appetite or energy level. These symptoms often take 3-4 days to appear after exposure, making an outbreak hard to manage.

What do I do? Treatment of Bordetellosis depends on its severity. While rest, hydration, and proper nutrition are always encouraged, antibiotics or anti-inflammatories are often supplemented to fight the infection. Infected dogs should also be isolated temporarily until they are no longer contagious.

How did this happen? Bordetellosis has been given the nickname “canine cough” or “kennel cough” due to its highly contagious nature and tendency to spread among dogs in close environments. This can include overnight lodging, daycare, dog parks, training classes, etc. It can be spread through airborne droplets, direct contact, contaminated surfaces or shared water bowls, toys, etc. It is not, however, contagious to humans.

How do I prevent this? To prevent “canine cough”, veterinarians offer the preventative Bordetella vaccine. It is not a mandatory vaccine, but any reputable facility makes proof of this vaccine a relevant and necessary requirement for dogs who partake in their lodging or daycare. While not a particularly dangerous disease, “canine cough” is likely to affect most dogs at least once in their lives, and sometimes even vaccinated dogs can be affected at a much less severe level. Be aware that the Bordetella vaccine can be given in oral, intranasal, or injective forms. It is often given in two doses several weeks apart and may only valid for six months or one year, and will need to be re-administered for effective prevention.

Talk to your vet for a diagnosis and the best course of action to get your pup back to feeling 100%!

DISCLAIMER: Any information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Generalized cases and scenarios do not apply to every pet. Always check with your own veterinarian before using any information or advice provided here, or trying any treatments on your own. Any comments or responses made on this blog do not constitute a valid client-patient-doctor relationship. Relying on information provided by this site is solely at our own risk.