August 02, 2016

Learn the Signs & Sounds of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is usually mild and self-limiting, but sometimes it can cause more severe illness.
By Laurie Anne Walden, DVM, ELS


Transmission to humans is rare but possible. Bordetella bronchiseptica infection has been reported in people with compromised immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients and cancer patients. Infection in humans can cause serious disease or no symptoms at all.6


Bordetella bronchiseptica can indeed infect cats, although this is not common. As with other species, cats carrying Bordetella may or may not have any symptoms of respiratory disease. In theory, your cat could actually give kennel cough to your dog.7 However, this is probably more of a concern in animal shelters than in households.
Dr. Laurie Anne Walden received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University. After an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Auburn University, she returned to North Carolina, where she has been in small animal primary care practice for over 20 years. Dr. Walden is also a board-certified editor in the life sciences and owner of Walden Medical Writing, LLC.
  1. Buonavoglia C, Martella V. Canine respiratory viruses. Vet Res. 2007;38(2):355-373.
  2. Tracheobronchitis in small animals. Merck Veterinary Manual website. www.merckvetmanual. com/mvm/respiratory_system/respiratory_diseases_of_small_animals/tracheobronchitis_ in_small_animals.html#v3295117.Revised November 2013. Accessed May 12, 2016.
  3. Schulz BS, Kurz S, Weber K, Balzer HJ, Hartmann K. Detection of respiratory viruses and Bordetella bronchiseptica in dogs with acute respiratory tract infections. Vet J. 2014;201(3):365-369. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.04.019.
  4. Ellis JA. How well do vaccines for Bordetella bronchiseptica work in dogs? A critical review of the literature 1977-2014. Vet J. 2015;204(1):5-16. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.02.006.
  5. Welborn LV, DeVries JG, Ford R, et al; American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force. 2011 AAHA canine vaccination guidelines. AAHA website. https:// guidelines/caninevaccineguidelines.pdf. Published September/October 2011. Accessed May 12, 2016.
  6. Chomel BB. Emerging and re-emerging zoonoses of dogs and cats. Animals (Basel). 2014;4(3):434-445. doi: 10.3390/ani4030434.
  7. Foley JE, Rand C, Bannasch MJ, Norris CR, Milan J. Molecular epidemiology of feline bordetellosis in two animal shelters in California, USA. Prev Vet Med. 2002;54(2):141-156.

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