Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

icon June 3, 2024

As pet owners, we want to ensure the health and well-being of our dogs. One crucial aspect of canine health is vaccination. Among the various vaccines recommended for dogs, the Bordetella vaccine is often highlighted, particularly for dogs that interact frequently with other canines. This article will delve into what the Bordetella vaccine is, how long it lasts, its scheduling, necessity, cost, benefits, potential side effects, consequences of skipping it, and post-vaccination coughing in dogs.

What is the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine is designed to protect dogs against Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacterium that is one of the primary causes of kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs, characterized by a persistent, hacking cough. The vaccine helps to prevent the disease or reduce its severity if a vaccinated dog does contract it.
Related: What is Bordetella in Dogs

There are different types of Bordetella vaccines available:

  • Injectable vaccine: Given subcutaneously.
  • Intranasal vaccine: Administered via drops in the nostrils.
  • Oral vaccine: Given by mouth.

How Long Does the Bordetella Vaccine Last for Dogs?

The duration of immunity provided by the Bordetella vaccine can vary depending on the type of vaccine used and the dog's individual response. Generally, the immunity from the injectable Bordetella vaccine lasts about one year. The intranasal and oral vaccines may offer protection for six months to a year.

Veterinarians often recommend annual boosters to maintain adequate immunity, but dogs that are at higher risk (e.g., those frequently boarded, groomed, or participating in dog shows) might benefit from more frequent vaccination.

Bordetella Vaccine Schedule for Dogs

The vaccination schedule for Bordetella typically follows these guidelines:

♦  Puppies: Puppies can receive their first Bordetella vaccine as early as 8 weeks old. A booster is often given four weeks later.

♦  Adults: Adult dogs that have never been vaccinated or whose vaccination history is unknown should receive the initial vaccine followed by a booster after two to four weeks.

♦  Booster Shots: Regular boosters are recommended every six to twelve months, depending on the dog's risk factors and the type of vaccine used.
Also Read: Puppy Shot Schedule

Is the Bordetella Vaccine Necessary for Dogs?

The necessity of the Bordetella vaccine depends on several factors:

♦  Environment:
Dogs that spend time in environments where many dogs congregate (boarding facilities, dog parks, grooming salons, doggy daycares) are at a higher risk and strongly benefit from the vaccine.

♦  Lifestyle:
Dogs that frequently travel or participate in group activities or training classes are also at increased risk.

♦  Health:
Dogs with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions may be more vulnerable to respiratory infections, making vaccination an important preventive measure.

While the Bordetella vaccine is not considered a core vaccine (essential for all dogs), it is highly recommended for dogs with any level of social interaction. Discussing your dog's lifestyle with your veterinarian will help determine if the Bordetella vaccine is necessary for your pet.

How Much is the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

The cost of the Bordetella vaccine can vary depending on the veterinary clinic, the region, and the type of vaccine administered. On average, the price ranges from $20 to $50 per dose. Some clinics might offer packages or discounts if the vaccine is part of a comprehensive wellness visit or if multiple dogs are being vaccinated at once.

What Does the Bordetella Vaccine Do for Dogs?

The primary function of the Bordetella vaccine is to prevent kennel cough or significantly reduce the severity of the illness if the dog does contract it. Kennel cough can be particularly severe in puppies, elderly dogs, or dogs with pre-existing health conditions. By vaccinating your dog against Bordetella, you are:

- Reducing the risk of your dog contracting a potentially uncomfortable and persistent respiratory disease.

- Minimizing the spread of the disease to other dogs.

- Protecting dogs with weaker immune systems who may be more severely affected by kennel cough.

What are the Side Effects of the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

Like any vaccine, the Bordetella vaccine can have side effects, though they are generally mild and short-lived.

Common side effects include:

  • Mild Discomfort: Some dogs may experience soreness or swelling at the injection site.
  • Sneezing or Nasal Discharge: Dogs receiving the intranasal vaccine might sneeze or have a mild nasal discharge for a few days.
  • Coughing: Mild coughing can occur, especially with the intranasal or oral vaccines.
  • Lethargy: Dogs might feel tired or less active after vaccination.
  • Appetite Loss: A temporary decrease in appetite may occur.

Severe reactions are rare but can include allergic reactions such as hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, or vomiting. If any severe side effects are observed, immediate veterinary attention is required.

What Happens if My Dog Doesn't Get the Bordetella Vaccine?

If a dog does not receive the Bordetella vaccine, the risk of contracting kennel cough increases, especially if the dog is exposed to environments where the bacteria are prevalent. Unvaccinated dogs that contract kennel cough can experience:

- Persistent, hacking cough that can last for several weeks.

- Discomfort and distress from the cough.

- Potential complications such as pneumonia, particularly in young puppies, older dogs, or those with compromised immune systems.

- The spread of the infection to other dogs, contributing to outbreaks in communal settings.

Why is My Dog Coughing After the Bordetella Shot?

It is not uncommon for dogs to cough after receiving the Bordetella vaccine, especially the intranasal or oral versions. This coughing is usually mild and temporary. Here are some reasons why this might occur:

Mild Irritation:
The vaccine can cause slight irritation to the respiratory tract, leading to a mild cough.

Immune Response:
The body’s immune response to the vaccine can sometimes result in symptoms similar to the disease, albeit much milder.

Individual Sensitivity:
Some dogs may be more sensitive to the vaccine components, resulting in a mild cough.

If the coughing persists for more than a few days or is severe, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian to ensure there are no complications or other underlying issues.


The Bordetella vaccine is a crucial preventive measure for dogs, particularly those that are frequently in contact with other dogs. It helps protect against kennel cough, a common and highly contagious respiratory disease. The vaccine's duration of immunity, scheduling, cost, necessity, and potential side effects are all important considerations for dog owners. Ensuring your dog is vaccinated not only protects your pet but also helps to prevent the spread of the disease within the canine community. As always, discussing your dog's specific needs with your veterinarian will provide the best guidance for maintaining your dog's health and well-being.

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