Can Bordetella Vaccines Cause Coughing?

On may 31st 2008 both of my dogs were updated on their shots, including Bordetella. Now weeks after, they both have a cough and some...
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On may 31st 2008 both of my dogs were updated on
their shots, including Bordetella. Now weeks
after, they both have a cough and some sneezing.
Could it be the shot or
something else? Maybe just a cold, and if so..
what can I give them?

Lake Elsinore, CA

The Bordetella vaccine is designed to protect against a disease called kennel cough. Kennel cough is a contagious, non-lethal disease of dogs. In my experience, young dogs (less than two years old) are most often affected. The disease causes a tickle in the throat that leads to coughing. The coughing may persist for as long as three weeks.

Veterinarians have not reached a consensus of opinion regarding the efficacy of the Bordetella vaccine. Some vets think it needs to be given at least twice annually to be effective. Others think that one time per year is adequate. And another group of vets thinks that the vaccine is completely worthless. They recommend that it never be administered.

There is, however, one feature of the vaccine that is not disputed. The Bordetella vaccine definitely does not confer absolute immunity against kennel cough. In this regard, it is like the human influenza vaccine. Dogs that receive the Bordetella vaccine can still contract kennel cough.

There is a chance that your dogs have, despite vaccination, caught kennel cough. As well, there is a chance that they have contracted one of the many thousands of other respiratory ailments that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. The best way to diagnose and treat your dogs is to have a veterinarian evaluate them.

In very rare instances, I have seen dogs develop mild coughing and sneezing as a result of vaccination against Bordetella. This syndrome, called reversion to virulence, occurs only with certain types of vaccines. It is extremely rare, and symptoms usually develop within a week of vaccination. Based on your description, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that reversion to virulence has occurred in your dogs.

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