My pet was diagnosed with kennel cough: what does this mean?



It is a New York City requirement that social dogs get two Bordetella vaccinations a year. As such, the majority of dogs in NYC are vaccinated for Bordetella, which is also referred to as ‘kennel cough’.  But what is kennel cough really?  Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis (meaning inflammation of the windpipe and bronchi of the lungs), is an upper respiratory infection caused by numerous infectious organisms.  These organisms include Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterial organism), influenza virus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, distemper virus, herpes virus, and Mycoplasma canis (a single cell organism that is neither a bacteria nor virus).  As you can see, there are a multitude of different organisms that may be affecting your pet.  Therefore, even if your pet is vaccinated against ‘kennel cough’ with the Bordetella vaccine, there are a number of other organisms which create similar symptoms and can give your pet an upper respiratory infection. Some of the common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, discharge from eyes, and lethargy.

How does your pet become infected?  Sick pets will shed the bacteria or virus in their respiratory secretions.  Once these secretions are in the air they can be inhaled by other dogs and cause them to become infected.  Areas with high pet populations and overcrowding increase the potential of your dog coming into contact with these pathogens (such as kennels, boarding facilities, groomers, dog parks, pet stores, rescue organizations, etc.).

While Bordetella is easy to contract, it is also easy to treat. Should you find your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or if you are interested in learning more about Bordetella, please reach out to us via phone (212-257-6900) or email ( We are always here to help.


Dr. Katerina Montagnaro, VMD

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