Q: Why is the kennel cough vaccine given up the nose and not injected? My dog hates it!
Neil says: Kennel cough is a bad name really. Most of the affected dogs that we see have never been near a kennel but have caught it in the park, on the street or at a training class. Or even at a shoot!
The causal agent, Bordetella bronchiseptica, is airborne and, if it lands on the lining of the respiratory tract, it grabs hold and multiplies. Since this thwarts the wave motion of the cilia in the trachea, which normally wafts mucus out of the lungs, coughing results.
Typically, there is a strong response to a tracheal pinch and the cough sounds like there is something stuck in the throat – with a painful goose honk attached! Conventional vaccinations work by stimulating blood born antibodies but these are ineffective against Bordetella, since the bug is never actually in the body but on it.
Kennel cough vaccination works by producing protective local antibodies in the lining of the nose. Some dogs don’t like this but the good news is that the patients who seem to snort the vaccine back out actually develop good immunity as they spray it over the nasal lining more effectively than the dogs that let it run to the back of their throat and swallow it.
Try and desensitise your dog a little by holding his muzzle, nose up, for a second or two then immediately offer a treat. And ask your vet to dribble it in, rather than fire it!