By Dr. John De Jong / Ask the Vet | Sunday, April 8, 2012 | | Lifestyle

Dear Dr. John,

My gorgeous 4-year-old poodle gets groomed about every six weeks by an excellent groomer. But I’ve been having an ongoing debate with the groomer and two of my friends. Here it is: Do dogs that get groomed regularly, but do not board overnight or go to doggie daycare need a vaccination to protect them against kennel cough?

I am strongly in favor of the vaccination because once my girl got a cough that lasted for three weeks and she honked all over the house and everywhere else too. I get mixed signals from the groomer, and my friends just don’t want to over vaccinate their dogs. What do you think?

— S.B.

Dear S.B.,

I face the same question at my hospital from time to time. Groomers are sometimes in private settings and sometimes they are part of a veterinary hospital or a larger daycare and boarding facility. I believe that the fair way to look at vaccinating for kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) is the potential risk for exposure.

All vaccines should be judiciously given to patients based on what is in their best interest considering what they may be exposed to. In my opinion, a dog-grooming facility is a potentially high-risk place where contagious diseases, both viral and bacterial, may be present despite how clean and well kept the location may be.

If the groomer is in the same building as daycare and boarding, then unquestionably this vaccine should be administered along with vaccines for distemper and rabies as a bare minimum. I also feel that this vaccine should be given to dogs that visit any other grooming facility as well. Why not try to prevent a miserable cough that can persist for weeks, make the dog uncomfortable and potentially lead to a worsening problem? Plus the dog would need to be isolated and probably medicated, even if only with a cough medication.

While I do not subscribe to over vaccinating, I do try to recommend what is best for my patients. Please feel free to share this with your groomer and friends.

John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.

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