Bordetella Vaccine – What you need to know

Bordetella Vaccine – What you need to know

As a dog owner myself, I’m almost always overwhelmed by my vet clinic visit. In between caring for my anxious dog and the general commotion that takes places amongst other pets in the waiting room, it can be difficult to remember and clarify my vaccine related questions with the doctor. One of the most common vaccines is the Bordetella - so I have put together information that you may want to know for your fluffy friend!

What is the Bordetella Vaccine for?


The Bordetella vaccine is administered to dogs that are largely exposed to other dogs. These could include social settings such as dog daycare centers, boarding kennels, dog shows, training classes and dog parks. This noncore vaccine acts as a preventive measure from other dogs carrying a bacterial agent known as bronchiseptica.

The Bordetella bronchiseptica largely effects the dog’s upper respiratory system by causing inflammation. Although the official medical lingo of this ailment is bronchiseptica, veterinarians and canine professionals call this disease kennel cough.

What is Kennel Cough?


Don’t let the name intimidate you in anyway, the Kennel cough for a dog can be compared to a common cold in humans. So the recovery time for a reasonably healthy dog would simply require some time and appropriate care.
However, if the dog is immunocompromised or still a very young pup, it may require a lot more attention and professional guidance remedy this disease. That being said, the worst- case scenario of death is extremely rare.

  • Kennel Cough Symptoms
    • Dry Cough
    • Runny None
    • Sneezing
    • Snorting
    • Hacking

Does that seem similar to a human cold...?
The Kennel cough symptoms may take about 2 – 14 days to appear on the dog after exposure. Even if you successfully get through a public appearance without any hassle, you may not be out of the woods just yet!

  • Kennel Cough Causes

    Similar to most respiratory illnesses, the kennel cough is highly contagious. It is usually transmitted through air from one dog to the other by the dog’s sneezing or coughing. There are a few factors that can make the dog more vulnerable to this bacteria such as cold temperatures, environmental pollutants, travelling, and being in shelters.

Puppies and Adult Dogs


It’s quite common for pubic dog events to demand dog owner’s to carry their Bordetella vaccine certificate to gain entry. Luckily, the vaccine is available for all ages, both puppies and adult dogs but are administered differently. It is possible that the vet may choose any alternate vaccine timeline looking at the specific dog according to its medical history, other vaccines and health indicators.

  • Puppies

    Puppies can receive their injectable Bordetella vaccine between 6 to 8 weeks. The second injectable booster is to be administered 4 weeks after, so between 10 to 12 weeks. In case you have purchased a puppy and are unaware of their vaccination history, you give the first vaccine after 16 weeks. This is so that the immune system is much more robust and healthier at this point.

  • Adult dogs

    Once the dog has grown up, they usually require a Bordetella booster vaccine once every 6 to 12 months. Suppose the dog is extremely socially active with other dogs, visiting spaces such as doggy day cares, training classes etc – it will be best to have the booster every 6 months. In rare cases where dog facilities don’t already have a Bordetella vaccine requirement, you could speak with their management and have it implemented. Because Afterall, the safer all dogs are, the safer your dog is!
    Suppose your furry friend primarily stays at home – only going out for walks, it is recommended to have their booster given once every 12 months. Although their risk of contracting Kennel cough is low, it may still be transmittable through fence lines or other dogs during your neighborhood walks.

Side Effects to Bordetella


The Bordetella vaccine is considered to be a very common and safe vaccine for dogs. Like every general vaccine, there are a few temporary side effects that your dog may face upon receiving the dose –

  • Pain at the injection site

    The piercing of the skin, known as subcutaneous, where the injection is administered could sting a little. The vet is usually trained to administer the dose to the dog’s more flesh area or possibly a vein. You may hold on to the injected spot with a piece of cotton for a minute, but usually this goes away on its own.

  • Sneezing/ Reverse Sneezing

    It is possible that the vet chooses to administer the vaccine through a nasal spray. Some dogs, in reaction, may loudly continuously sneeze or even make throat clearing noises for a few minutes after.

  • Sluggishness or Slight appetite decrease

    After any subcutaneous vaccination, some dogs may experience slight sluggishness and a lack of interest in food. It could also be due to the large amount of energy they spent, if their generally anxious during their vet hospital visits. If the sluggishness doesn’t disappear in a few hours, it would be best to contact your vet.

  • Anaphylactic Reactions

    Just like in humans, the dog may have an anaphylactic, or a life threatening allergic, reaction to the vaccination. These are extremely rare. Usually, such allergic reactions could include vomiting, hives, swelling around face/eyes, breathing difficulty or collapsing happens within 10 to 30 minutes of vaccination. You can hang around the clinic, maybe walk your dog around the block for that time!

Some alternatives to Bordetella Vaccine


As mentioned before, the Bordetella vaccine is commonly administered and deemed quite safe. However, in cases where your dog cannot be given the vaccine as they may be immunocompromised, sick, or pregnant there are some alternatives at your disposable!

  • Prebiotics and Probiotics

    Your pup already comes with a large volume of good bacteria in their gut. There are brands with large collection of prebiotics which help nourish, and probiotics that support this good bacteria. In keeping good condition of the dog’s digestive health, it naturally absorbs all the nutrients and minerals in the diet to contribute to a strong immune system to fight against kennel cough and other diseases.

  • Mushrooms

    Mushrooms, such as the Reishi mushrooms, are excellent immune-boosters. They also contain other beneficial properties as they are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and help protect the liver, heart, and lungs. Dog’s may not be particularly excited about eating them – you may break them into tiny pieces and mix them along with their meat heavy meal.

  • Homeopathic Nose-doses

    There are vet practitioners that adopt non-allopathic ways of treatment. These could include various herbal mixes such as turmeric oil or hemp concoctions. These are usually administered by nasal sprays and offers a more holistic care towards pet health care.


I hope this article gave you a good starting point about the Bordetella vaccine before visiting your vet. As always, I encourage you to talk to your veterinarian to take this conversation further, discussing your lifestyle and the appropriate vaccine plan for your best friend.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the article below! 😊