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Why We Require Kennel Cough (Bordetella) Vaccination Every Six Months

Woman holding dogs.There has been a lot of talk about routine vaccinations lately, both in the news and among veterinarians. A recent tv news magazine raised questions about over-vaccination and its relationship to income for veterinarians. While some veterinarians recommend annual vaccinations, while other recommend vaccinating every three years. State laws vary in regard to rabies vaccination—some states require vaccinations every year while others permit three year vaccinations. What in the world is a responsible owner to do?

Believe me, I understand your frustration. The veterinary profession has been trying to sort this out, too. If you were to take a poll of veterinarians in Tulsa about frequency of vaccinations, you would probably come up with a lot of different answers. As the owner and manager of Dogville, I have to take all of these things into consideration before making recommendations for our clients and their dogs. As a dog owner, I understand the concerns about over-vaccinating my own fur kids. As a retired veterinarian, I have to consider the science, the politics and the economics behind recommendations made by vaccine companies, too.

So, that said, why do we require vaccination for Bordetella every six months instead of every year? Kennel cough is a disease that pops up when dogs frequent places where other dogs are found—the groomer, the dog park, the pet store and yes, the place where they are kenneled. It’s rarely fatal—that is, unless the dog is older, frail or has a weak immune system and develops complications from the disease. The vaccines are often labelled as good for a year, but vaccine companies do not spend the money to prove that in clinical trials. They all have disclaimers that say dogs that are at higher risk may need to be vaccinated more often.

At Dogville, we specialize in senior dogs and special needs dogs. That means at any time our population contains a number of dogs that are at risk for complications if there is an outbreak of kennel cough. In order to do all we can to protect them, we ask that everyone be diligent about vaccinating for kennel cough every six months. For other vaccinations, follow the advice of your veterinarian. We prefer that you use the intranasal vaccine, as it seems to have the fastest and best local response, but any of the licensed vaccines are fine. If you are having problems with getting your local veterinarian to comply with our requirements, just call Dogville and ask to speak to me personally. I’ll see what I can do to help.

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