You don’t want your dog to get sick so when your dog’s veterinarian or dog day care owner tells you that you need to get your dog the bordetella vaccine so your dog doesn’t get sick, naturally, you may feel like you should get the vaccine for your dog.
However, if you’re one of the many people who’ve heard a bit about vaccine side effects and efficacy issues, you may get a little uneasy about the vaccination idea but still feel unsettled at the thought you may be neglecting to provide your dog with possibly necessary protection.
What Kennel Cough Is And Isn’t
Although if left untreated kennel cough can turn into pneumonia, the illness itself is no more serious then a cold is to a human.
When considering kennel cough vaccination for your dog it’s important to weigh the actual potential for infection from the disease against the true level of protection offered by the vaccine.
Viral initiated kennel cough is caused by the parainfluenza virus and bacterial caused kennel cough is triggered by bordetella. And this isn’t to say there are only these two pathogens you need to protect your dog against in order to keep them from getting kennel cough as there are many mutations and strains of these microbes that can make your dog ill.
Also, the bordetella bacteria is carried by all dogs and will only make them sick if their immunities are compromised via poor health conditions, malnutrition, stress, excessive exposure to pathogens, unsanitary, poorly ventilated or cold environments or stress. As a result it’s actually impossible to effectively vaccinate your dog from all of these pathogens and risks.
Other Kennel Cough And Vaccine Factors
When a dog is exposed to either the virus or bacteria that will lead to kennel cough it takes 3 to 10 days for their symptoms (that unproductive cough and bit of a drippy nose) to show up.
An important factor here is that when a dog has this viral/bacterial infection they’re shedding it so it can make others ill as well.
So for example, if you have more then one dog and one dog has started to show symptoms and your other dog or dogs have not shown any symptoms yet, it’s already too late to get them vaccinated because it’s almost guaranteed they now have the virus or bacteria and you can’t vaccinate after exposure.
This doesn’t mean all your dogs will get sick either, your best course of action in this scenario would be keep their living environment clean and well aired, start giving all your dogs some form of preventatives and treatments (the kind that won’t hurt them even if they’re not ill such as vitamin C, echinacea, a little licorice root powder, etc) and try to keep your sick dog isolated from the rest as much as possible for about 3 weeks till they’ve stopped shedding the pathogen.
As for the vaccine, it’s not effective immediately after it’s been administered, it takes 3 to 4 days to become effective and it will make your dog a carrier of the virus and bacteria for a week or more.
So if your dog has to stay in a hospital for a while, or stay in some type of multiple dog setting or undergo any kind of stressful situation or one which they will become exposed to other dogs who may be carriers of kennel cough pathogens make sure you get your dog vaccinated at least 4 days to a week before they are put at risk and at least one and a half weeks beforehand to prevent your dog from potentially making other dogs sick.
This is because after your dog is vaccinated he or she is a carrier for these pathogens and can shed them to other dogs so after vaccination you should keep your dog away from other dogs.
After vaccination your dog will likely, as most dogs do, come down with a mild form of the illness after a few days of which they’ll be well again. It’s important to note that while there are vaccines that protect against both bordetalla and parainfluenza, combined vaccination can lead to immunological overload due to how they cause the patient to become ill afterwards.
So consider vaccination carefully if you have a healthy adult dog as his or her risk of contracting the disease is naturally quite slim and it may be very unnecessary to get them vaccinated.
If your dog is old, just a puppy or suffering or recovering from another type of illness or poor health condition you may be unwilling to have your dog undergo a vaccine injection due to how needle injections have been related to local tumours and growths.
The few days of additional illness caused by the vaccination itself may be something that might not be so great for your already unhealthy dog as well.
You may therefore consider getting your dog an intranasal form of the injection.
However, even if you get an intranasal form of the vaccine, just like with regular vaccines, there are still risks of long term health problems for your dog such as the development of a permanent post nasal drip, damage to their upper respiratory and to dogs which have any kind of heart trouble getting them vaccinated against kennel cough can be fatal.
If you need to get this vaccine for travel purposes there’s nothing much you can do to avoid your dog from getting it.
However, if vaccination is in question because of another reason, in light of all these factors, the actual ‘need’ for the vaccine has to be analyzed to determine whether it’s not more about liability issues with the veterinary clinic or the facility that may be demanding for your dog to get the kennel cough vaccine rather then being about maintaining your dog’s health.
If this is the case, you don’t necessarily have to simply give in and get your dog vaccinated.
If you’ve decided you don’t want it, you have a few options. One, you can ask to sign a liability waiver from the party demanding the vaccine as this can eliminate the demand for the vaccine and two, if the facility still demands that your dog be vaccinated, you can look for another clinic or facility that doesn’t demand vaccination (they’re not as common but they do exist).