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Vaccinate dog before kenneling

Q: Our dog Bruiser developed kennel cough shortly after his stay at the kennel, even though the veterinarian vaccinated him the day he entered. Is there something I can do to prevent kennel cough in the future?

A: Vaccination timing is important, because the body requires about two weeks to develop protective antibodies. So next time, update Bruiser’s vaccinations at least two weeks before kenneling him.

However, that still won’t guarantee that he’ll come home healthy, because there are many viruses and bacteria that cause kennel cough, also called infectious tracheobronchitis or canine infectious respiratory disease complex.

Most kennels require vaccination to protect their canine guests from distemper, parainfluenza and adenovirus-2, three respiratory viruses included in the distemper combination vaccine. Most also require the vaccine for Bordetella bacteria. In addition, many dogs are given receive the flu vaccine to protect them from two strains of the influenza virus.

If Bruiser is vaccinated for these germs and subsequently exposed, he may develop mild illness or be completely protected. However, there are other respiratory pathogens for which vaccination is not available, including the herpes virus, respiratory corona virus, pantropic corona virus, pneumovirus, reovirus, and multiple strains of Mycoplasma and Streptococcus bacteria.

Kenneling increases the risk of airborne respiratory disease because the dogs live in close proximity, and the stress of being away from home suppresses the immune system. Dogs that constantly bark develop throat irritation that worsens the cough.

If Bruiser was especially stressed while boarding, consider a house sitter the next time you travel and can’t take him with you.

Editor’s Note: In those instances when you cannot bring your pet along for the trip, boarding, pet hotels, or sitters may be ideal. Here’s what you need to know about boarding your pet.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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