Giving your dog the borditella vaccine then bringing them to doggy daycare, dog parks, or dog social situations seems harmless, right? With all the conflicting information it’s almost impossible for a dog owner to know what the right decision is. Well, let me tell you from a dog daycare owner’s point of view.
When I first opened my dog daycare in 2002, I wanted to be responsible. That meant what I really wanted was to elevate myself from any and all liabilities by requiring every vaccine under the sun ‘just in case’ . This spineless attitude of mine did’t last very long. Even with my strict vaccine policy, all the dogs were getting kennel cough on a regular basis.
So I decided to phone every Veterinarian in town and ask the exact same 7 questions:
1) What exactly is kennel cough?
2) Can dogs die from kennel cough?
3) Can dogs have lifelong negative effects from having had kennel cough?
4) How many strains of kennel cough are there?
5) How many strains does the vaccine protect against?
6) How often should you vaccinate and how long does the vaccine last?
7) What should you do to cure kennel cough if a dog contracts it?
Basically I got 3 answers, depending on the vet clinic, 1) traditional vet, 2) holistic vet, 3) traditional but open minded vet. Here’s what they told me:
Traditional vet’s answers:
1) Explanation of kennel cough
2) No, but dogs who are extremely young, old or weak could develop pneumonia due to weakened immune system, (but pneumonia and kennel cough are two different things…..hmmm).
4) There are approximately 450 strains.
5) The vaccine protects against 1 strain; the strain at best guess will be most prevalent that year, much like the flu vaccine for people.
6) Annually, even though the vaccine only lasts for 3-6 months. Meaning your dog is only ‘protected’ for 1/4 – 1/2 a year at a time.
1-5) basically all the same answers.
6) Do not agree with vaccinating at all.
7) Vitamin C, honey for their throat and bed rest.
Traditional but open minded vet answers:
Basically all the same answers as both traditional and holistic vet. They did believe, though, that kennel cough is not life threatening therefor vaccines and treatments would be the dog owner’s choice.
So I did a little more research on my own and was startled to learn one more important fact. When you vaccinate your dog against borditella they will actually spread kennel cough to every dog they meet for up to three weeks! So total isolation is the only option.
Bottom line, kennel cough is just a cold
This little tidbit of information really made me stop and go hmmmmm! Let me get this straight; kennel cough really is just a cold and is spread very easily from dog to dog. The vaccine itself actually spreads this cold. And it is not life threatening. Am I missing something? It’s starting to sound to me like a man made doggy cold. If this is true that means we’re putting this toxic substance willingly into our dogs’ bodies every year. What is it doing to their immune systems? Well that’s probably a whole other topic of conversation!
Anyway, I decided to change my borditella vaccine requirement. I no longer required it. And I actually insisted that dogs who recently got the vaccine couldn’t come to daycare for three weeks. Amazingly enough our kennel cough outbreaks came to a grinding hault. I’m not a scientist or a veterinarian and I will never deny the importance for both. But for a non-life threatening cold, what are we doing?
I’ll admit, the sound your dog makes when they have kennel cough is scary. It sounds like they’re choking and they sometimes struggle quite badly. But if your pooch has a case of kennel cough, keep them home and away from other dogs! And maybe think twice next time your vet asks if you want that vaccine. Let’s stop spreading this cold, it’s no fun for anyone!
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Professional Certified Dog Trainer, Behavior and Natural Nutrition
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