Bordetella (bordetella bronchoseptica) may not sound as familiar to dog owners as parvo or rabies but it is becoming quite prevalent in dogs. This microorganism is small even when compared to other bacteria, is but one of the potential causes of “kennel cough,” or tracheobronchitis.
While the disease is easily treated, most dog owners and veterinarians prefer to practice preventative medicine by vaccinating dogs against infection with this microorganism, using any one of a handful of available vaccines. This is especially the case because bordetella is extremely contagious even after the symptoms disappear. In addition, it is so easily transmitted that most boarding kennels and obedience classes require proof of vaccination against bordetella. Humans are not immune to the effects of the disease either and Bordetella can be dangerous for human beings whose immune systems are compromised or deficient.
The products available for dog vaccinations which protect against bordetella include intranasal and injectable vaccines which confer immunity only against that specific organism, as well as an intranasal combination vaccine which immunize against both bordetella and the other major cause of tracheobronchitis, the parainfluenza virus.
The first dose of bordetella vaccine is usually given to puppies between six and twelve weeks of age, and a booster is given within one month in the case of the injectable vaccine. An annual booster vaccination is recommended regardless of the form of vaccine used. Think of it as a flu shot for dogs.
While there are those who would recommend not immunizing against bordetella because the disease it causes can be treated easily and because of fear of the side effects of bordetella, most veterinarians and other experts agree that the bordetella vaccine should be administered routinely, especially in cases where a dog will be exposed to other dogs which may carry the bacteria.