Dog Flu vs. Kennel Cough: Which Do You Vaccinate For?


Dr. Natalie Marks

The vaccine for bordetella or kennel cough is considered routine. On my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show, I wonder why the canine influenza virus (CIV) vaccine isn’t necessarily routine, depending on your veterinarian. Dr. Marks points out exactly what bordetella is and offers more details about the CIV or dog flu.

Both are highly contagious, and the transmission is identical. Marks says to protect your dog well, you really need both vaccinations.

What’s curious to me about traditional veterinary protocol is bordetella is aggressively vaccinated against.  Certainly, the primary sign, a deep persistent cough is annoying (not only to your dog who feels lousy, but pet parents hearing that cough all night long), but dogs are rarely hospitalized for kennel cough, and pretty much never die. Dog flu can last longer, with dogs coughing the same or worse and is far more likely to cause hospitalization. What’s more, around two to five percent of dogs with CIV will potentially succumb.

Marks says what veterinary professionals very much want to avoid seeing are dogs infected with both bordetella and the canine influenza virus, which may even cause more significant disease.

Double protection, vaccinating for bordetella and CIV makes makes the most common sense to Marks.