Unless you do not mind a dog honking like a duck and having a snotty nose, you may want to get your dog vaccinated against bordetella. Commonly called "kennel cough" bordetella is a contagious respiratory condition found in areas where dogs congregate, such as boarding kennels and grooming facilities.
Determining if your dog needs a bordetella shot will depend on your dog's lifestyle. If he leads a very social lifestyle and is a regular at doggie day care or the dog park, by all means ask your vet's opinion and consider getting him vaccinated so he is protected. Consider also the fact that should you ever need to board your dog, enroll him in training, take him to be groomed or keep him hospitalized at the vet's office, this vaccination is often a requirement.
A bordetella shot will protect your four-legged pal against the respiratory disorder known for causing inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. While bordetella will rarely lead to death, it can cause annoying symptoms. With this condition, expect to hear a dry, hacking cough that many describe to be similar to a goose's honking, and expect nasal discharge. Some dogs act as if something is stuck in their throat and may retch or even vomit fluid after coughing. In severe cases, your dog may lose his appetite, become lethargic and develop pneumonia.
If your canine companion hates being poked by needles, he can count his blessings; the bordetella vaccine comes in two forms: A subcutaneous injection utilizes a needle to deliver the vaccine under the skin, or an intranasal injection delivers the vaccine directly into the nose in the form of nasal drops. The former results in quicker protection and is ideal for dogs that have never had this vaccination before or never developed this condition. However, some dogs develop annoying side effects such as sneezing, mild cough and fever; and some may strongly object to having the drops placed in their nose.
Don't wait until the last minute to get you pooch vaccinated before leaving for a dog show or sending him to a boarding facility; it takes some time for vaccines to take full effect. In the case of the intranasal bordetella vaccine, consider that it may take 72 hours for your dog to generate an immune response. In the case of the injectable form, consider that it may take at least two weeks to take effect, according to veterinarian Bob Rogers.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.