Kennel Cough (Bordetella)

Kennel cough (also known as bordetella) is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can affect dogs, cats, and humans. Dogs are most commonly affected, though cats are often carriers of the disease, never showing any symptoms but spreading the disease to other pets and pet owners. For pets and pet owners, the disease is most common among those with compromised immune systems, such as the very young or the elderly, and extra precaution should be taken with both age groups.

A pet contracts kennel cough when they inhale particles of a virus or bacteria which then lingers in their respiratory tract, trapping the infectious particles and resulting in an inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Several factors are believed to expose pets to these contagious particles, some of which include cigarette smoke; crowded and inadequately ventilated areas, such as a kennel or shelter; cold weather; stress caused by traveling long distances; and dust. If you suspect your pet to be experiencing any of these conditions in the near future, it is recommended that a bordetella vaccination be administered; however, please keep in mind that the vaccination cannot prevent all strains of bordetella, as the virus comes in various forms.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough? 

  • Cough that sounds similar to honking. 
  • Dry hacking cough. 
  • Eye discharge. 
  • Fever. 
  • Retching. 
  • Reverse sneeze. 
  • Runny nasal discharge. 
  • Sneezing.

Treating bordetella

Numerous tests can be performed to diagnose a pet with bordetella. Pets suffering from indicative symptoms usually have a complete blood count and chest X-rays performed. Additionally, the veterinarian may swab nasal passages or the throat for any discharge and send the samples to an external lab for testing. An external lab can tell the veterinarian exactly what type of microorganism is infecting your pet.

The most common type of kennel cough is relatively mild and does not need to be treated with antibiotics. The infection will run its course, similar to a fever or cold in humans. More severe infections will be treated with oral antibiotics for a period of 10 to 14 days, sometimes longer if the symptoms are more severe. If secondary health issues are a concern, such as pneumonia or dehydration, hospitalization might be required, so the veterinarian can administer IV fluids and additional antibiotics, as well as monitor the pet.

Because kennel cough is severely contagious, it is important to thoroughly sanitize an infected environment as soon as the contamination is known. Bowls, bedding, and litter boxes all need to be disinfected as well as any other object a pet has come into contact with.

If you have any questions about bordetella, feel free to contact our office at your convenience.


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We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

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