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Why did my dog get kennel cough when vaccinated?

It is not unusual for dogs to develop kennel cough even when vaccinated. There are many reasons why this can occur and we will describe why this may happen and whether or not you should be concerned. We'll explore the possible causes for this to occur and help explain why your dog developed kennel cough when vaccinated.

When people think of a coughing dog, they will often associate this to kennel cough. Certainly, there are many causes of cough in dogs so it is important to obtain the correct diagnosis. Furthermore, kennel cough is made up of many different infectious agents (i.e. viruses, bacteria, etc.) but the kennel cough vaccine is only protecting against one bacteria, Bordatella bronchiseptica. Therefore, if a dog contracts a respiratory virus that causes identical symptoms to that of kennel cough but has been vaccinated against the Bordatella bacteria, he/she can develop severe symptoms of kennel cough.

What happens to a dog that has been vaccinated against kennel cough (Bordatella) and is exposed, or contracts actual Bordatella bronchiseptica? Most vaccines against this bacteria do not actually prevent infection, but significantly reduce symptoms and shedding of the bacteria. Therefore, it is possible that your dog can show symptoms of Bordatella kennel cough while vaccinated. The main difference is however, your vaccinated dog will be much less ill than a dog that is not. The signs can be so severe in unvaccinated dogs that veterinary attention is often required. This is not always the case in vaccinated dogs while they may have a cough but it is mild and self limiting after a few days.

If your dog can still contact kennel cough, even when vaccinated, should you even have your dog vaccinated? This is a good question. The degree of symptoms and illness between a vaccinated and unvaccinated dog is paramount. Although your vaccinated dog may continue to show symptoms of kennel cough, the symptoms are usually insignificant and self-limiting, without the need for any veterinary medical attention.

For more information about vaccinations, please visit