What Is a Dog Bordetella Vaccine?

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

Home » Blog » What Is a Dog Bordetella Vaccine?

Suppose you like bringing your dogs out, or your pet usually stays at boarding facilities while you’re away. You must protect them against the highly contagious Bordetella bacteria. I’m going to explain what the dog Bordetella vaccine is, when to get it, and how it protects your dog from this disease.

What Is a Dog Bordetella Vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is a non-core yet preventative immunization that wards off the contagious bacterial illnesses caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica. Puppies, young dogs, and senior canines with weaker immune systems will benefit the most from this intranasal or injectable vaccine.

Volunteer making sure that a brown dog is held down properly while a veterinarian is checking it for a check up

If this is your first time going to the veterinary clinic to vaccinate your pet, it can be overwhelming at times to see the list of available vaccines. Knowing what the Bordetella dog vaccine is can help you understand its importance and health benefits. 

What Is Bordetella?

Before anything else, it’s crucial that you know what Bordetella is and how it affects the lives of dogs. Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium of the genus Bordetella that causes infectious bronchitis in canines.

It’s the most common bacterial agent responsible for dogs developing a kennel cough. The organisms attach directly to a dog’s respiratory cells, paralyzing the cilia that move microbes and debris around a dog’s airways. They will knock out immune cells that could typically combat bacteria.

What Happens to a Dog With the Bordetella Bacteria?

A dog infected with the Bordetella virus may develop a harsh cough that sounds like something is caught in the throat. Watery nasal discharge is also a common sign. 

Symptoms can appear around two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Meanwhile, the infection may last for four to 21 days.

How Does the Bordetella Vaccine Work?

The Bordetella vaccine exposes a dog’s body to a small dose of non-pathogenic Bordetella bacteria. In this way, a dog’s immune system recognizes the bacteria and can combat the real bacteria in the future.

Once there’s an actual agent to fight, your dog’s body will produce antibodies to kill the bacteria.

Volunteer wearing a mask holds down a brown dog while a veterinarian prepares a syringe

How Long Does the Bordetella Immunization Last?

The effectiveness of dog Bordetella vaccine typically lasts for six to 12 months. This is why most veterinarians recommend pets get the vaccine every six months to guarantee a high level of immunity.

However, it’s best to consult me directly to examine your pet so we can schedule the immunization session properly.

How Do Vets Administer the Bordetella Vaccine?

There are two ways vets can administer the Bordetella shot: by injection or nasal drops.

Intranasal vaccines typically consist of a modified live parainfluenza virus and a strain of Bordetella that won’t trigger the disease. The nose spray version is the most common because it has a fast onset of immunity, usually within 48 to 72 hours.

On the other hand, I can also inject an inactivated bacteria into a dog’s body.

What Are the Side Effects of the Bordetella Shot?

Like other kinds of vaccines that dogs need to take annually, mild adverse reactions may happen. The benefits still outweigh the short-lived side effects. However, be mindful of the potential side effects of the vaccine.

  • Lethargy: Discomfort, mild fever, and lethargy are among the most common side effects of vaccinations. This is a reasonable effect of the immune system working to react to the small dose of non-pathogenic bordetella bacteria.
  • Lumps and bumps: It’s common to see lumps and bumps around the injection site. Return to our clinic if there’s constant pain, redness, swelling, or discharge. 
  • Sneezing and cold-like symptoms: Dogs who will receive an intranasal spray may develop cold-like symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, and coughing.
  • Allergic reactions: It’s rare for dogs to have an anaphylactic response. Severe allergic reactions may cause swelling in the face, itchiness, hives, vomiting, and breathing issues.

It’s generally safe for dogs to get vaccinated. If your pet is sick, immunocompromised, or pregnant, I will request examinations to determine the best time to vaccinate your dog.

How Often Do Dogs Need a Bordetella Shot?

The Bordetella immunization schedule may vary depending on your dog’s health. Although, in general, I can administer the vaccine every six to 12 months.

Brown pomeranian dog sitting on a white table while a veterinarian holding a stethoscope and assistant looks on
  • Puppies: Puppies must receive an injectable vaccine around six to eight weeks of age. A second dose should follow a month later to attain complete protection. Vaccines take time to build an immune response, so schedule your puppy’s immunization at least two weeks before grooming, boarding, or socializing. 
  • Adult dogs: After getting the initial immunization, adult dogs must have booster shots of the vaccine every six months if they spend a lot of time outside or in public spaces like boarding facilities or doggy daycare. If your pet mainly stays home, you may consider waiting for 12 months.

Why Should Your Dog Get the Bordetella Vaccine?

The Bordetella shot protects dogs from contagious bacterial illnesses that attack the respiratory system. Thus, securing the vaccine is crucial if your dog frequents these situations or places. 

  • Pet grooming
  • Dog parks
  • Doggy daycare or training classes
  • Boarding facilities
  • Land and air travel
  • Pet shows or events
  • Walking routines

Related Questions

Is a Bordetella Shot a Parvo Vaccine?

No, the Bordetella vaccine isn’t applicable for parvo. You will need the DA2PPv vaccine to combat parvovirus. Bordetella mainly focuses on kennel cough.

How Much Does the Bordetella Immunization Cost?

While the cost of the Bordetella immunization depends on the clinic, the usual range is $20 to $45. Some clinics offer a package for core and non-core vaccinations as well as comprehensive care services.

Does the Law Require the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

Most states don’t require the Bordetella shot for dogs because the condition isn’t life-threatening, making it a non-core vaccine. However, some facilities may only allow you access if your pet has it. Skipping this vaccine also puts your dog’s general health at risk.


The Bordetella vaccine is an intranasal or injectable immunization that combats bacterial agents that cause infectious bronchitis and kennel cough in dogs. Regardless of your dog’s age, you should schedule an immunization appointment and check-ups to keep your pet healthy. Visit our clinic if your dog displays any signs of disease.