Know Your Bordetella Vaccine

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Know Your Bordetella Vaccine

Many boarding facilities and doggy daycares require your companion dog to have the Bordetella vaccine every six months or annually. This requirement may be due to laws (regional, local, or state), the facility’s insurance purposes, or the belief of those responsible. The shortened interval is because the duration of vaccinated immunity to Bordetella bronchiseptica lasts for only 6 to 12 months. The  ultimate question is though: “Is your dog ONLY getting the Bordetella vaccine or other vaccines in addition to Bordetella?”

What is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is inhaled. When mixed with other viruses such as parainfluenza and/or adenovirus -2, the result could be kennel cough, which is a basic cold in dogs with mild symptoms and no fever. It only really becomes dangerous if it develops into secondary pneumonia, but that is RARE, unless the animal is heavily parasitized and malnourished. It should be noted that Bordetella is not the only microorganism that can cause kennel cough.

Bordetella Vaccine

Bordetella has become the basic word for the kennel cough vaccine. After a quick survey of an online pharmacy, my staff recorded:

  • Two intranasal vaccines provided protection for adenovirus-2 (respiratory virus), parainfluenza and Bordetella.
  • Four intranasal vaccines provided protection for parainfluenza and Bordetella.
  • Three Bordetella only vaccines were one oral, one intranasal, and one injectable.

Now, you have a decision to make. Did the boarding facility mean only Bordetella vaccine or possibly the more common vaccine, Bordetella/parainfluenza with or without adenovirus-2? Ask for clarification. 

If they say parainfluenza is necessary, we know that vaccinated immunity for it lasts three or more years. Adenovirus-2 injected vaccine immunity lasts at least seven years. So, if you have vaccination records available, show them to the facility. 

If they tell you only Bordetella, you can call your veterinarian or other local veterinarians to see if they carry either of the single, monovalent intranasal or oral Bordetella vaccines. [Note: The intranasal and oral Bordetella vaccines induce the body to secrete alpha-interferon, an immune protein that affords cross protection against the other viruses in the kennel cough complex, whereas the injectable Bordetella vaccine cannot induce interferon release and is thus even less protective of the other upper respiratory viruses.]

My preference would be to find out if you can sign a waiver that holds the facility harmless in case another dog there develop kennel cough a week or so later. The premise is that an unvaccinated dog cannot infect vaccinated dogs. We call this herd immunity. [Further, none of these upper respiratory vaccines are 100% effective anyway.]

I understand, though, that sometimes this is just not possible and there is no alternative but to give the Bordetella vaccine.

More Concerning

As many of you know, I recommend the distemper and parvovirus vaccines given between 9-10 weeks of age, again at 14-15 weeks of age, and then a parvovirus only vaccine at 18 weeks. At one year, either give a distemper and parvovirus booster or measure serum antibody titers. Every three years thereafter measure serum antibody titers. Rabies should be given four weeks apart from other vaccines and at 20-24 weeks, then according to the law. So, as you can see, I do not suggest parainfluenza, adenovirus-2, Bordetella, or even canine influenza, Lyme and leptospirosis vaccines, unless a local endemic or other high exposure risk circumstances exist. I certainly do not want a dog given all of these vaccines in one veterinary visit.

However, these “combo-wombo” vaccines are still given and a few dogs still experience serious adverse reactions, or even death. 

For instance, I have heard of instances that puppies received a 5-way vaccine in addition to “Bordetella” in one veterinary visit. The 5-way is generally an injected DHLPP: distemper, adenovirus-2 (cross-protects for infectious canine hepatitis, adenovirus-1), leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus. So, depending on which “Bordetella” vaccine, your dog could be getting a double dose of parainfluenza and adenovirus-2 in one day. This is another reason to ask your veterinarian what “Bordetella” vaccine they carry.

By the way, the intranasal adenovirus-2 vaccine does not give adequate cross-protection for adenovirus-1, infectious canine hepatitis. Cross-protection works only with the injectable hepatitis (adenovirus) vaccine contained in the combination vaccine products.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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