Kennel Cough Vaccine Exposed
By Dr. Peter Dobias
Holistic approach to kennel cough prevention
I have a question for you? Would you vaccinate a 16-year-old dog, with heart disease and recent diagnosis of a malignant lump?
Just until few days ago, I thought that no veterinarian would. However, my bubble was bursted during a phone call with my friend from London. She asked me if I could help with her 16 year old Jack Russell Rocky, because he was recently diagnosed with a mast cell tumor. As I was collecting the medical history, we started talking about vaccines. I only asked casually because I assumed that no vet would vaccinate a senior dog. I was wrong.
The news that Rocky has been vaccinated yearly hit me like a ton of bricks because the vaccine label say that animals that are ill should not be vaccinated. After few seconds of disbelief I decided to write this article because obviously, the discussion must go on.
Over the years, I have witnessed many people having a very unreasonable fear of Kennel cough mainly due to fear based advertising that kennel cough is some sort of horrible disease while even the Merck Veterinary manual says that:
Kennel cough is a mild self-limiting disease that results in inflammation of the upper airways transmitted by air…This condition would rarely lead to complications or death…
“Infectious tracheobronchitis is a mild self-limiting disease that results in inflammation of the upper airways transmitted by air and caused possibly but not surely by several different viruses, mainly Parainfluenza virus and also by a bacteria – Bordetella Bronchiseptica, however, the exact cause may vary.”
The Merck Veterinary Manual also states that:
“This condition would rarely lead to complications or death only in animals with a weakened immune system. In summary, Kennel cough is not much different than a cold that most of us catch from time to time and cure by rest and tea.”
Despite the fact that kennel cough is nothing more than a dog version of cold, most boarding facilities, daycares, training centers and grooming facilities request kennel cough vaccine. They often mean well but they are mainly frightened of being held liable for a dog getting kennel cough.
Books are theory but how about real life veterinary practice? In more than 20 years in clinical practice, I have not seen one single dog succumbing to kennel cough and as the Merck manual says, most dogs recover on their own without they use of any antibiotics. The risk of dog of dying of kennel cough is not any different that of a person dying of a common cold or flu.
More than 15 years back, I too used to use Kennel Cough vaccine because I didn’t know any better. I remember seeing absolutely healthy dogs getting kennel cough vaccine and coming back a few days later with actual symptoms of the disease. When I called the vaccine rep, he response was that these dogs must had been exposed prior to vaccination. Later realized that the live modified vaccine was the likely reason. For your interest, this is what the British medical safety data sheet for Nobivac KC vaccine states:
“Contra-indications, warnings: Particularly in very young susceptible puppies, mild discharges from the eyes and nose can occur from the day after vaccination, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and coughing. Signs are generally transient, but in occasional cases may persist for up to four weeks. In animals, which show more severe signs, appropriate antibiotic treatment may be indicated.
To me, this statement clearly says that the vaccine can cause the disease.
A few practical suggestions what to do
DAY CARE, DOG WALKING, GROOMING, BOARDING AND TRAINING FACILITY
1. If you are an owner of a boarding, grooming or daycare facility you are likely concerned about liability.
2. I suggest you creating a simple waiver that your clients can sign at the time of the admission.
3. Stop requesting kennel cough vaccine because by doing so, you may be spreading kennel cough itself.
4. Ensure good hygiene and air quality in your facility
5. Avoid overcrowding and strive to create a happy and relaxed atmosphere in your facility
6. Download and print a copy of this article for your clients to read to educate them here
FOR DOG GUARDIANS
- Remember that the Merck Veterinary Manual says that Kennel Cough is a mild self-limiting disease.
- Avoid Kennel Cough vaccination if possible no matter what age your dog is.
- If a service provider you use requests a Kennel Cough vaccine, share with them this information and be willing to sign a waiver
- Make sure that your dog’s immune system is in top-notch condition. The best way to achieve this is to feed high quality all natural raw food and adding essential supplements to make your dogs immune system stronger
- Avoid carbohydrate based and processed foods, milk products, and wheat that can compromise the immune system
- Look for well aired clean facilities that are not overcrowded and your dog likes to visit.
- You can also supplement your dogs diet by this medicinal mushroom formula during the period of boarding
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM