Kennel Cough Revealed
Here at The Pet Campus, Inc. dogs have been coming and going for vacations, grooming and training for 18 years. Daycare is the newer activity at only 15 years. All of that time and all of those dogs have taught me a thing or two about kennel cough. (In addition to a degree in Biology, 30 hours of educational course on vaccines, and a constant passion for learning.) The most important fact is that the type of illness that is termed 'kennel cough' does not live in the physical structure. Clean concrete, chain link and drywall do not cause kennel cough; dogs do.
Kennel cough refers to any individual or combination of viral, bacterial, and/or mycoplasma infection of a dog’s respiratory tract. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the bacterium most commonly associated with kennel cough and is responsible for creating infectious bronchitis in dogs. Ironically, Bordetella Pertussis is the human bacterium, which is responsible for whooping cough. Additionally, Parainfluenza, Adenoviruses, Influenza viruses from various sources, other bacterial infections, and a host of other culprits can cause respiratory illness in dogs. Unfortunately, any time a respiratory illness is found in a dog it is called, “kennel cough” and both a cough suppressant and antibiotics are usually given just to be safe since the origin could be viral or bacteria or both.
Viruses are extremely contagious among dogs in day care because of the obvious exchange of mucosal fluids during play and sharing water pails. Respiratory illness is linked to kennels because of the enclosed space housing multiple dogs. Certainly if you walked your dog around your neighborhood and pass a sick dog, the chance of your dog catching the illness is not as great as if the dogs were nose to nose next to each other in a confined area. Anywhere dogs congregate are potential hotspots for respiratory illness including dog parks, pet supply stores, and even vet offices.
World-renowned veterinary immunologist, Dr. Ronald Schultz (who I have met and been in the audience of his lectures of multiple times) has stated that, “kennel cough is not a vaccinatable disease.” Additionally, “many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and canine parainfluenza (CPI) and canine adenovirus 2 (CAV-2) every 6-9 months without evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and the disease is not seen. CPI immunity lasts at least 3 years when given intra-nasally, and CAV-2 immunity lasts a minimum of 7 years. These two viruses in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica are the agents most often associated with kennel cough, however, other factors play an in important role in disease (e.g. stress, dust, humidity, molds, mycoplasma, etc.), thus kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable disease because of the complex factors associated with this disease.”
Since 2000, there have been four outbreaks of kennel cough that have resulted in completely closing day care to limit additional exposure at The Pet Campus, Inc. In all cases, except one, the virus exposure was tracked back to a recently vaccinated visitor. One August, almost 30 canine clients suffered from a respiratory illness. At the same time, a day care in Fairless Hills, five veterinary offices, Core Creek Dog Park, a day care in Quakertown and two vacationing dogs in Maine also suffered from “kennel cough.” Weird right?
Any time there has been a viral outbreak at The Pet Campus, Inc., the dogs who have gotten sick had been vaccinated against kennel cough. Those not frequently vaccinated did not get sick. My own dogs are on the property all the time had Bordetella vaccinations as young dogs only and at ten and eleven years old, neither have ever had kennel cough. Lauren Rose, a long-term boarding dog, has also not had a respiratory illness of any kind. I spoke to a woman recently who liked her boarding facility but didn’t like her dogs always coming home with kennel cough after boarding. Facilities that require Bordetella vaccination every six months or that give the vaccine when the dog arrives, are more likely to have a problem with the spread of disease specifically due to viral shedding (watch for next article) and the reduced overall wellness of the over-vaccinated dogs.
Bordetella is not a required vaccine at The Pet Campus. It is recommended that frequent visitors get the vaccine annually until the age of 5-7 years, during quiet times when your dog will be staying home for at least two weeks after vaccination. Vaccines are not innocuous and can present short and long term problems dogs. If your dog receives one or more modified live vaccines, please keep them home for two weeks for recovery t