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December 10, 2020

Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs: Here’s What You Need to Know

Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs: Here’s What You Need To Know


Key Points

  • The Bordetella vaccine is used to reduce the risk of kennel cough in dogs.
  • Multiple infectious diseases in dogs can cause kennel cough, a disease characterized by a dry hacking cough.
  • If your dog is experiencing symptoms of kennel cough, I recommend visiting your veterinarian.
  • The Bordetella vaccine is a safe and somewhat effective vaccination that should be given by your veterinarian every 6 to 12 months if your dog is ever around other dogs not living in your own home.

What is the Bordetella vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is used to reduce the risk of kennel cough in dogs. This vaccine comes in multiple different forms including an injectable vaccination, an oral vaccination, or a nasal vaccination. This vaccine protects against Bordetella bronchiseptica, one of the bacteria that can cause kennel cough. Occasionally, kennel cough vaccinations will protect against other causative agents of kennel cough as well. As every vaccine is different, I recommend speaking with your veterinarian about what Bordetella vaccine they will be using for your dog. If you are a new dog owner and need more tips on how to care for your dog, check out this article on Tips for New Dog Owners.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious disease in dogs that causes a dry hacking cough. This disease is especially common in dogs that go to dog parks, doggy daycare, grooming facilities, or boarding facilities. Many of these businesses require Bordetella vaccination for dogs visiting these places to reduce the risk of kennel cough. To read more about kennel cough in dogs, check out this Can Dogs Get a Cold article. 


The main symptoms of kennel cough according to Merck Veterinary Manual include:

  • Dry hacking cough
  • Honking cough
  • Retching
  • Gagging
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

What causes kennel cough in dogs?

Kennel cough can be caused by a variety of different bacterial and viral pathogens. One of the most common bacteria causing kennel cough is Bordetella bronchiseptica which is what the Bordetella vaccine protects against. If your dog has kennel cough, that means they could have any of the following bacterial or viral infections causing their symptoms:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine adenovirus-2
  • Canine parainfluenza virus-2
  • Reovirus type 1
  • Canid herpesvirus-1
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus
  • Mycoplasma species

What should I do if I think my dog has kennel cough?

If your dog is having symptoms of kennel cough, I recommend visiting your veterinarian. They can examine your dog and prescribe medications to help reduce the symptoms that your dog is experiencing. Most cases of kennel cough will resolve in 1 to 2 weeks with veterinary treatments. In addition, if your dog is feeling under the weather, consider checking out this Cozy Calming Pet Bed.

How much does a Bordetella shot cost for a dog?

According to CareCredit, a veterinary financing company, the Bordetella vaccine typically costs around $20 to $45 if added to the cost of your pet’s annual examination. If you would like to get the Bordetella vaccine separately from the annual exam, your veterinarian will likely also want to do a physical exam to ensure your pet is healthy before vaccination. Physical examination costs can vary depending on location.

Does my dog need the Bordetella vaccine?

Your dog needs a Bordetella vaccine if they are around any other dogs that are not living in your household. Not every dog will need the Bordetella vaccine as some dogs never leave home except for a walk around the neighborhood. 


I recommend that your dog receive a Bordetella vaccine if they go to:

  • Grooming facilities
  • Boarding facilities
  • Doggy day-care
  • Dog parks
  • Dog shows

How effective is the Bordetella vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is fairly effective at preventing infections caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica. The issue is that not all cases of kennel cough are caused by this bacteria. Some cases of kennel cough are caused by other bacteria or viruses. If your dog gets a Bordetella vaccine, they are still at risk of developing kennel cough, but their chances of getting kennel cough caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica is drastically reduced with vaccination. 


Unfortunately, we don’t have a kennel cough vaccine that protects against all causes of kennel cough, but I still recommend giving the Bordetella vaccine because it does a great job of preventing Bordetella bronchiseptica infections.

How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot?

Your dog will need a Bordetella vaccine every 6 to 12 months depending on the recommendation of your veterinarian and the requirements of the facilities that they are visiting. Often, an every 12-month Bordetella vaccine schedule is sufficient, but veterinarians may recommend that dogs in high-risk situations be vaccinated more frequently. The oral and nasal vaccinations typically do not need to be boostered after administered. The injectable Bordetella vaccine needs to be boostered in 3 weeks after the first vaccination. The Bordetella vaccine can be given as early as 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

The main side effect of the injectable Bordetella vaccine is pain around the site where the injection was given. After the nasal Bordetella vaccine, dogs may have some minor side effects including sneezing and reverse sneezing. These symptoms should resolve a few days after vaccination, and if they don’t, I recommend contacting your veterinarian. As with any vaccine, there is a risk for severe vaccine reactions, although they are uncommon with the Bordetella vaccine. If you notice your dog has difficulty breathing, facial swelling, or hives after receiving a vaccine, you should get emergency veterinary care as soon as possible.

How can I protect my dog from kennel cough?

The safest and most effective way to protect your pet from kennel cough is by having your veterinarian vaccinate your dog with the Bordetella vaccine. While this vaccine will not protect against all bacteria and viruses that may cause kennel cough, it will protect against Bordetella bronchiseptica, a common bacterial infection causing kennel cough. Your veterinarian will likely recommend that your dog get vaccinated every 6 to 12 months if they go to the dog park, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, or doggy daycare.

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