You may not have heard of Bordetella, but there’s a good chance you have heard of kennel cough. Both refer to an extremely contagious illness that dogs and cats can transmit to each other at boarding kennels, dog parks, or any other place where animals are in close quarters. Your pet can also pick it up through contact with sneeze droplets, saliva, or other types of discharge from another infected animal.
The first thing you’re likely to notice in your dog is a dry, hacking cough. It might sound like he just has something stuck in his throat at first. The cough is caused by micro-organisms attached to your dog or cat’s respiratory cells. With cats, the earliest and most common symptoms of Bordetella are sneezing and nasal discharge. The virus weakens your pet’s immune system so he can’t fight off the effects of Bordetella. A prolonged, untreated case can cause significant respiratory distress for both cats and dogs.
Uncomplicated cases of kennel cough normally revolve on their own within about two weeks, much like the common cold in people. Although we don’t normally prescribe antibiotics at this stage, we may be able to provide an over-the-counter medication to help your pet feel more comfortable.