Skip to Content

Reasons to Always Get the Kennel Cough Vaccine

I didn’t know all the reasons to get the kennel cough vaccine until we adopted our Little Bea. Due to expensive vet visits, I try to opt out of the Bordetella vaccination (kennel cough vaccine) because our dogs are always home with us.

We don’t board them, we don’t go to dog parks, and we don’t hang out with other dogs. Yes, we are basically hermits with a huge yard for them to run in. However, my vet is always persistent about not skipping any of the vaccines. I trust her; so, thankfully, we are always up to date.

Little dog looking up.

When we adopted Bea, a chihuahua pug mix, I soon thanked my lucky stars for my thorough vet. If you read our adoption story, you’ll see I mention Bea had horrible kennel cough. Horrible is an understatement.

Before I get into how sick she was, first let me say I am so glad my other dogs didn’t get it thanks to their vaccines. Since Franklin and The Grump have never skipped a vaccine, it’s built up their immunities to a super strength.

Bea was so sick — SO SICK. The shelter said she had an upper respiratory infection and was on meds. On the 3 hour drive home, she was coughing a little. That only got worse along the way.

Hearing a 5-pound little creature cough like a sea lion is fricken terrifying. (I wish I would have recorded it, but I was not wearing my blogger hat during that time.) I took her to my vet immediately.

It was confirmed; she had kennel cough. We were sent home with more meds and told it takes time.

Little dog curled up on a bed.

When we got home, Bea started coughing around the clock. She had few breaks between the roughest and most painful sounding hacks. I called the vet again, and she prescribed a cough suppressant that I had to pick up at my pharmacy. That worked well, but not completely. At least she was able to rest a bit.

Her symptoms went on for three weeks. THREE WEEKS with a new little animal who we didn’t get to know yet. We saw her as a fragile 5.5 pounds. We hadn’t learned yet that she’s mighty and fierce.

It was heartbreaking to watch, that’s for sure. I couldn’t help fear for all the other unvaccinated dogs in the shelter. The shelter was terrific, and I know they do what’s in their power to keep everyone healthy. They can’t help who comes in sick.

Don’t Skip the Kennel Cough Vaccine – Here’s Why!

If my example hasn’t convinced you to get the kennel cough vaccine, here’s some more info. Vaccinating can be a lifesaving precaution for your beloved pet.

Kennel Cough Is Passed Like the Common Cold

If your dog comes in contact with other dogs, he needs to be vaccinated. Kennel cough is passed like the common cold is in humans. Read more here.

This means that something as simple as a trip to the dog park could lead to an illness. To make sure your dog is protected from other dogs, get him vaccinated.

Should Your Dog Catch Kennel Cough, He’s More Likely to Recover on His Own

Also, like vaccines in humans, the kennel cough vaccine doesn’t promise 100% immunity, but it does greatly reduce the chances of infection. Should your dog come down with the illness, he will have a better chance of recovering on his own if he’s been vaccinated.

Some Dogs Are More Prone to the Illness Than Others

If your dogs are exposed to any of these conditions, they need to be vaccinated. These conditions include exposure to kennels and shelters that are poorly ventilated, cold temperatures, exposure to cigarette smoke and dust, and travel-induced stress. These conditions will weaken the dog’s immune system and could lead to kennel cough.

Recovery Can Take a While

The symptoms of kennel cough include a persistent cough, and some dogs may also have sneezing, eye discharge, and/or a runny nose. The illness can last up to 6 weeks.

Dogs that are young and healthy usually recover in only 3 weeks. Older dogs and those with other health issues may take up to 6 weeks to fully recover.

It Can Lead to Pneumonia

Though rare, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia. You don’t want to risk this happening. The kennel cough vaccine can help prevent this from happening by making it easier for your dog to recover should he catch the virus.

The kennel cough vaccine may not be something you had considered for your dog, but you should. In rare cases, the illness can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal. Take the precaution and get your dog vaccinated.

Little dog sitting on the back of a couch.

2021 updates: Bea is now called the Little Bits — it just happened. We also did a dog DNA test for fun and turns out she’s not as close to a chihuahua pug mix as we thought!

Bea is now healthy as can be and runs the house. Hopefully, her rough start can help others decide the importance of the kennel couch vaccine. 

Maryann D.

Sunday 21st of April 2019

Bea is just adorable! I do agree that every dog owner should read this important information.

Janet W.

Friday 23rd of March 2018

This is great information! We always make sure to be up to date on all vaccines, whether it's for our pets or my grandchildren.