Kennel Cough – also known as Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis – is one of those vaccines that is “optional”. The disease is common in situations when animals are in kennels, and the last thing that any boarding kennel wants is an outbreak of disease amongst their residents. So most good kennels have a strict policy that insists on an up-to-date veterinary certificate demonstrating up to date Kennel Cough vaccination. It’s also a good idea for any dogs that are likely to be socialising to a significant extent, such as going to doggy day care, or even just meeting lots of other dogs in the park on a regular basis.
The vaccine is an attenuated form of the disease causing bacteria
The disease is caused by a combination of a virus (causing initial damage to the lining of the respiratory tract) and a bacteria. The vaccine is usually an attenuated form of the bacteria: that is, it has been modified in the laboratory so that it still provokes strong immunity, but it only gives a mild version of the disease. This does mean that some dogs cough after the vaccine, and importantly, they can pass this cough on to other unvaccinated dogs.
intranasal vaccination is an unusual route of administration
The vaccine is an unusual one: instead of being given in the normal vaccine route of sub-cutaneous injection, it’s given by intra-nasal drops. When the vaccine comes into contact with the cells of the membranes lining the nose , they are stimulated to produce local antibodies against the attenuated bacteria. If the dog then comes into contact with the real disease causing agent, the lining of the nose has been primed by the vaccine, producing immediate high levels of antibodies. These stop the “real” infection before it has a chance to get started.
The vaccine volume is tiny, at 0.5ml, or one tenth of a teaspoonful. This is just ten drops of fluid, but many dogs hate it being dripped into their nose.