Canine Bordetella and Your Boston Terrier

What is Canine Bordetella?

Canine bordetella, also known as Kennel Cough or tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be produced by several different organisms, both viral and bacterial. It is usually not life-threatening, but can progress to a serious broncho-pneumonia and if left untreated, death.

Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, hacking, and retching accompanied by nasal discharge. Symptoms may last from a few days to several weeks. In the most severe cases, symptoms may worsen and include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, pneumonia, and even death. The majority of severe cases occur in young unvaccinated puppies and animals with compromised immune systems.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the disease, there are two different treatment options. In mild cases, where the dog has a good appetite and is alert, suffering only from a cough, the disease may just run its course (like a cold in humans). Prednisone may also be given to reduce the frequency and severity of the cough and to make the dog more comfortable. Bronchodilators and/or cough suppressants may also be used.

In severe cases where the animal is not eating, is running a fever, or is showing signs of pneumonia, antibiotics and/or bronchodilators may be used. Steroids are usually not given because of the risk of immune system suppression. Cough suppressants are not given because of the need to clear extra fluid and mucous. Consult your veterinarian right away if symptoms worsen, or if the dog refuses to eat, is lethargic, or has a fever.

How Can It Be Prevented?

The best prevention is to limit contact, especially for young puppies, with other dogs. Current vaccines are helpful but do not protect for all strains. They may reduce the severity of symptoms if your dog does contract the disease. Vaccination should be given routinely for dogs that come into contact with other dogs, such as those that visit a groomer, attend training classes, or are boarded.

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