19th May 2019

Kennel Cough – Why Should I Vaccinate?

“Kennel Cough”,otherwise known as Canine Infectious Rhinotracheitis, is caused by a group of viruses and bacteria. The name is misleading, as it suggests dogs only get it from kennels. In fact, it travels around the general population of dogs and is very readily spread, seen in many dogs who have not been to kennels. It is a very common disease and we treat many cases of it every year. In young, fit and healthy dogs, it may not present any further issue than a few days of feeling under the weather and a nuisance cough. However, for the young, old and unwell, it can cause more severe problems. In fact, even some dogs who are otherwise fit and well may take several weeks to fully recover.

The kennel cough vaccine, given into the dog’s nose, stimulates local immunity to the most frequently encountered pathogens, this is why it has to be given into the nose. Until recently, we had included the parainfluenza component of kennel cough into our injectable vaccinations, however research has shown that this is not very effective when compared with the intra-nasal vaccine and so we have removed this component from our injectables so as to streamline the vaccination schedule.

The important thing to know about kennel cough vaccination is that the more dogs that are vaccinated, the more protection there is for those that cannot be vaccinated by “herd immunity”. This is the same concept as in vaccinations for people, vaccinating the majority of the population protects those who can’t be vaccinated for whatever reason. Vaccinating your dog helps to protect our local community of dogs. There are some animals that we can’t vaccinate. These include those who are too poorly, have certain conditions, or for whom the intranasal vaccine is simply not possible. In addition, we would recommend discussing with the vet if anyone in your household, or anyone who has regular contact with your dog, is immunosuppressed as this may affect our decision to vaccinate.

We can provide treatment for kennel cough. For those where we suspect bacterial infection, we may use antibiotics. However, the main treatment for kennel cough often centres around relief of the cough, which may include anti-inflammatories and cough treatments. Please beware, human preparations are generally unsuitable for dogs, possibly causing organ damage and we would always suggest seeking veterinary advice.

For further information, or to discuss anything relating to kennel cough or vaccinations, please contact us.