Thanksgiving arrives in just a few short weeks and along with it the busiest travel days of the entire year. People take advantage of the long four-day weekend to visit friends and relatives who live longer distances away. It’s also a busy time in the veterinary industry because many pet owners can’t take their animals with on the trip. Perhaps you are busy now searching for boarding accommodations for your pet. Before you make a reservation, make sure that your dog has had a Bordetella vaccine in the last six months.

What is Bordetella Disease?

Bordetella, also known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs. The cough of an affected dog sounds similar to a honk. Your dog may also gag while coughing up phlegm that appears white and foamy. This tends to happen more often after exercise of when a dog gets excited and pulls against her collar. Additional symptoms may include nasal discharge and fever. Most dogs with kennel cough don’t show significant changes in their energy level or eating patterns.

How is Bordetella Spread?

Kennel cough spreads quickly when large groups of dogs are together at a boarding facility, dog park, groomer, or doggy daycare. It typically spreads through airborne exposure from a single infected dog. Your dog could even pick up kennel cough by sharing a water dish or simply greeting another dog who has it. For this reason, boarding facilities insist that you show current proof of Bordetella vaccination before leaving your dog. The vaccination is even more important at this busy time of year.

How Often Should Dogs Get a Bordetella Vaccine?

Once a dog has acquired Bordetella, the cough can linger for weeks. Some dogs also go on to develop pneumonia. As with all canine illnesses, preventing kennel cough is much easier than treating it. At Buffalo Trace Veterinary Services, we recommend a preventive shot every six months. While some veterinarians only give the shot annually, we feel that a bi-annual dose provides your dog with uninterrupted protection regardless of where he finds himself. We encourage you to schedule an appointment for the Bordetella vaccine as much in advance of the Thanksgiving travel season as possible. This allows you to enjoy your holiday without worrying about the possibility of your dog getting sick.


Photo credit:  Roman Samokhin | iStock Photo