Bordetella: Does Your Dog Need the Kennel Cough Vaccine?

July 21, 2012

Your veterinarian, kennel owner, trainer, day care provider or groomer says your dog should/must be vaccinated against kennel cough, but you’re trying not to over-vaccinate.

What should you do?

More and more, people are finding another vet, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer — or keeping their pet at home!  Vaccination is a serious medical procedure with significant risks. 

If that weren’t bad enough, the “kennel cough” vaccine is unlikely to prevent kennel cough! It can even produce kennel-cough like symptoms. The WSAVA Guidelines say, “Transient (3–10 days) coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge may occur in a small percentage of vaccinates.” It can also cause a serious anaphylactoid reaction. Look up anaphylactoid. You won’t like it.

Regarding facilities requiring this vaccine: In general, if they have good ventilation and practice good hygiene, kennel cough shouldn’t even be an issue. Bordetella is not for dogs playing together in well-ventilated areas — like dog parks or backyards or living rooms. It’s for dogs in close quarters, like kennels. That’s why it’s called kennel cough!

Think of kennel cough as a canine cold, transmitted as human colds are transmitted — from an infected individual in close contact with an individual with compromised immunity.  Like a cold, it is also considered a mild self-limiting disease.  If humans can’t effectively be vaccinated against a cold, how can pets? A veterinarian friend uses an OTC remedy called B & T Cough and Bronchial Syrup to treat the cough.  For small dogs she uses the children’s variety.  See your vet for further treatment information.

If your service provider is afraid your dog will contract kennel cough at their establishment, offer to sign a waiver saying you’ve been informed of the risk and will waive liability if your pet falls ill. That should do it.  Should.  It’s often just liability at issue, not a question of health.

If the person insisting on the bordetella vaccine is afraid other dogs at their establishment will contract kennel cough from your unvaccinated dog, this person clearly doesn’t trust that the vaccinated dogs actually have immunity. If they don’t believe the vaccine is protective,  why insist that you or anyone else vaccinate?

Note: If you decide to give the vaccine, make sure it is the intranasal form, that is, given as nose drops, not injected.  And give the vaccine at least 2 weeks before contact with other dogs, for the sake of both your dog and other dogs.

Don’t take our word for any of this. Read what three vets and a PhD have to say about the bordetella vaccine:

World-renowned vaccination scientist, Dr. Ronald Schultz, says [emphasis mine]: “Many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and CPI and/or CAV-2 every 6 to 9 months without evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and disease is not seen. CPI immunity lasts at least 3 years when given intranasally, and CAV -2 immunity lasts a minimum of 7 years parenterally for CAV-I. These two viruses in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica are the agents most often associated with kennel cough, however, other factors play an important role in disease (e.g. stress, dust, humidity, molds, mycoplasma, etc.), thus kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable disease because of the complex factors associated with this disease. Furthermore, this is often a mild to moderate self limiting disease. I refer to it as the ‘Canine Cold.’”

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Mike Richards, DVM 12/7/02: “On the differing recommendations among vets for bordetella (and probably the other viruses and bacteria) — to some extent recommendations are based on who the vet believes. The vaccine manufacturers claim one year duration for many of the bordetella vaccines but other studies don’t support this claim. So do you believe the vaccine label or the other studies? I tend to lean towards the results of studies not funded by the company but lots of people are comfortable believing label claims.”   Read more: Dog Vaccines and Vaccinations – VetInfo

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From Dr. Eric Barchas: “I generally do not recommend kennel cough vaccines unless dogs are staying in a boarding facility that requires them (and even then I don’t truly recommend vaccination — instead, I recommend finding a facility that doesn’t require them).

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Bordetella Vaccination for Dogs: Fraud and Fallacy

By Patricia Monahan Jordan from Dogs Naturally Magazine   July/August 2010 Issue Reprinted with permission

Bordetella or Kennel Cough is commonly required by boarding kennels and veterinary hospitals. These vaccinations are delivered to a staggeringly large percentage of dogs and the reason is not to protect your dog: the reason is to protect these facilities against liability.

The proprietors who push for these vaccines may be assuming more liability than they can handle and the stakes are very high. The truth is, the vaccines are not only ineffective but they are far from safe. Yet they are routinely given to combat a self limiting disease that amounts to as much danger to your dog as the common cold does to you.

What is interesting is that when you bring your dog to the vet for his Bordetella vaccination, he will have already been exposed to the natural flora: all animals are exposed to both Bordetella and Parainfluenza prior to vaccination. It makes little sense to vaccinate an animal for something he has already been exposed to.

There are at least forty agents capable of initiating Bordetella so vaccination might appear to be prudent if it weren’t for the fact that only two of these agents are contained in the intranasal vaccine. This poor percentage truly makes the Bordetella vaccine a shot in the dark. The lack of efficacy is well summarized by noted immunologist Dr. Ronald Schultz: “Kennel Cough is not a vaccinatable disease”.

Despite the lack of any real effectiveness, the Bordetella vaccine is routinely given and touted as safe, especially in the intranasal form. Make no mistake however: the dangers and misinformation surrounding this seemingly innocuous spray are just as tangible and frightening as any other vaccination. A major problem with the Bordetella vaccine is that it is part of a combination vaccine. Unbeknownst to most pet owners, the Bordetella intranasal spray also contains Parainfluenza (the vaccine for which is not surprisingly, just as ineffective as Bordetella). The problems with the Parainfluenza portion are threefold.

First, there is a real danger of dangerous immunological overload when vaccinations are offered in combination. Second, like Bordetella, most dogs have already been exposed to Parainfluenza, making the necessity of vaccination questionable. Third, the Parainfluenza vaccine is just as ineffective as the Bordetella vaccine because the vaccine does not provide antibody against Parainfluenza where it is most needed: on the mucosal surfaces.

Other dangers associated with the Bordetella vaccine are obviously not far removed from the dangers associated with any other vaccination. Although Bordetella is a bacterial vaccine, we now know that bacterial vaccines present the same threat as Modified Live Vaccines. Modified Live Viruses from human vaccines are now known to become incorporated in the genes of the host and can shuffle, reassert, and reactivate thirty or more years after vaccination.

Bacterial genes are capable of the same activity, lurking in the genetic makeup, waiting to replicate and awaken. The intranasal Bordetella vaccine has been known to activate a previously asymptomatic collapsing trachea and disrupt phagocytic activity which can progress to pneumonia. The toxins from the vaccine will also kill the ciliated lining of the trachea, creating a denuded area susceptible to anything coming down the windpipe. Perhaps collapsing trachea, irritable tracheas and pneumonias are all complications of Bordetella and the Bordetella vaccine.

Vaccination of any sort also elevates histamine which can promote cancer, chronic inflammation and loss of tolerance. In general, all vaccination creates immune dysregulation and is responsible for a vast array of pathology. The Bordetella vaccine can wreak havoc outside the body as well. Bordetella will shed from a vaccinated host for seven weeks while Parainfluenza will shed for a week. This means that every vaccinated dog is a walking dispenser of potentially damaging bacteria.

While the risk to other dogs is obvious, it should be of little concern to healthy dogs because Bordetella is generally a self limiting disease. What you might find surprising is that the shed bacteria is a risk to other animals…and to people. The reason we now have a feline Bordetella (and not surprisingly, a feline Bordetella vaccine), is likely thanks to the widespread use and subsequent shedding of Bordetella from vaccinated dogs to cats sharing the household. If this seems hard to imagine, consider how dogs first fell victim to Canine Influenza.

Canine Influenza was initially documented in racing greyhounds. It is worth noting that many of these dogs shared tracks with race horses: race horses who are routinely vaccinated with Equine Influenza. It is not a stretch to predict Bordetella will infect gerbils, hamsters and rabbits in the near future and it is with certainty that the vaccine manufacturers will be well rewarded with the continued fruits of their canine Bordetella vaccine.

Not surprisingly, humans are not left out of the equation. Ruth Berkelman MD (Former Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service) writes: “The potential for both exposure and for adverse consequences secondary to exposure to veterinary vaccines in humans is growing. Enhanced efforts are needed to recognize and to prevent human illness associated with the use of veterinary vaccines”. Dr. Berkelman noted that pertussis an whooping cough-like complaints in children followed exposure to Bordetella bronchiseptica from the Bordetella vaccine and it is no coincidence that Bordetella bronchiseptica and whooping cough pertussis are very closely related. Interestingly, the rate of whooping cough is highest in highly vaccinated populations.

Immunocompromised humans and animals are at an elevated risk of infection from these canine vaccines. There is a recently reported case of Bordetella bronchiseptica pneumonia in a kidney and pancreas transplant patient who had to board and subsequently vaccinate her dogs at a veterinary clinic while she was hospitalized. Vaccines contain contaminating agents including mycoplasmas which are also very communicable to humans and other mammals.

In the end, vaccination for Bordetella is at best fruitless and at worst, a pathetic fraudulence at the hands of veterinarians and vaccine manufacturers. It is up to you whether or not your dog receives this vaccination and that is not overstating the obvious. Sadly, most pet owners are aware of this but choose vaccination because they feel they are at the mercy of boarding kennels, training schools and veterinarians.

Patricia Monahan Jordan is a graduate of the North Carolina College of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced conventional veterinary medicine for twenty years and founded six different veterinary facilities in North Carolina. Dr. Jordan has traced the paths of immunopathology to vaccine administration and uncovered the cycle of disease and the endless cycle of disease management that results from vaccine administration. Dr. Jordan can be reached at www.dr-jordan.com.  She is the author of Mark of the Beast, Hidden in Plain Sight.

© 2010 Dogs Naturally Magazine. This article may not be reproduced or reprinted in whole or in part without prior written consent of Intuition Publishing.

This article was also published with a few additions at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2012/03/21/bordetella-does-your-dog-really-need-the-kennel-cough-vaccine/

Related articles: Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots
Vaccinating Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing
Protecting Dogs From Vaccine Reactions
Dog Flu Vaccine: Do You Really Need a Shot for the H3N8 Canine Virus?
Dog Flu Shot: Thoughts from a Vet about H3N8  

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4 Responses to Bordetella: Does Your Dog Need the Kennel Cough Vaccine?

  1. KC on October 22, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Hi, I have a 2 year old toy poodle.
    She had her Bordetella vaccination last May 22, 2013 with 1 year effectivity.
    And when she was supposed to have her Leptospirosis vaccination today, Oct 22, 2013, her vet accidentally gave her Bordetella vaccination again.
    Should i be worried she had her Bordetella vaccine twice this year?

    Regards,
    KC

  2. Allison on August 24, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I have not–and don’t intend–to vaccinate my 7 1/2 year old Labrador for bordatella. We don’t board him, he doesn’t go to dog parks, there is no need and my vet doesn’t press the issue.

    That said, he has cancer (histiocytic cell sarcoma). His right front let was amputated May 2012 and the cancer had spread to the one lymph node that they also removed for testing. He started on chemotherapy on May 10, 2012 and gets Vincristine IV each month on the 10th and Loumostine oral on the 27th of each month. He has shown no ill effects from the chemo other than a little lethargy the day of administering.

    That said, we are trying to adopt a lab from a rescue nearby. The one we are most interested in has developed a cough and is now being treated for pneumonia. Should I be concerned about bringing in a dog with, or the potential to show, bordatella (or worse) with my dog? I don’t want to harm my dog. The rescue seems to think that he’s immunocompromised enough that he could get bordatella from an infected dog. Each month his oncologist runs blood tests and is amazed at how well he is doing.

    • adminjr on September 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Allison, I just found a comment you left three weeks ago at http://www.truth4pets.org. For some reason, I didn’t get a notification. I’m sorry.

      I’m wondering if you adopted the new lab and how it went. I would have told you not to bring a sick animal into your house. Did you? How is it going?

      I would have also told you not to vaccinate your dog at all. Vaccines are for healthy animals only. Check with your vet.

      I hope your dog is doing well.

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