Helping the Prevention of Kennel Cough – by Dr. K

June 14, 2021

As a veterinarian, especially as the staff veterinarian at a large boarding and training facility, I wanted to share the facts about something that I often deal with… kennel cough!

This is also referred to as “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex.” Why? Because there are many organisms that can cause an infection.

Here are the names of just SOME of the common organisms that we can culture from swabs of a dog’s respiratory tract:

  • Parainfluenza virus (CPiV)
  • Adenovirus type 2 (CAV2)
  • Distemper virus (CDV)
  • Herpes virus (CHV)
  • Influenza virus H3N8 (H3N8 CIV)
  • Influenza virus H3N2 (H3N2 CIV)
  • Respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV)
  • Pneumovirus (CnPnV)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria (Bordetella) 
  • Streptococcus zooepidemicus bacteria (Strep zoo)
  • Mycoplasma cynos bacteria (Mycoplasma)

The message I want to bring home here is that we cannot cover many of the organisms with vaccination! And, different vaccines convey different levels of immunity.

We refer to the kennel cough vaccine as the “Bordetella” vaccine (highlighted in the list above). ALL kennel cough vaccines cover Bordetella, which is one of the bacteria that can cause infection. If your dog receives an oral or injectable Bordetella vaccine, these ONLY cover the Bordetella organism.

However, intra-nasal vaccines can include additional organisms such as Parainfluenza and Adenovirus. Many vets (myself included years ago – although I have now changed my ways) prefer not to give intranasal vaccines because dogs don’t enjoy getting them! However, studies have shown that in terms of kennel cough protection and local immunity in the nasal passages where infectious organisms enter the body, these vaccines are superior to others for protecting your dog while in a kennel environment.

Many dogs that are vaccinated STILL GET SICK while at QK because vaccines just can’t cover everything in the long list above. But, you can request that your vet administer a multi-valent intranasal vaccination for the best protection possible!