Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs


The Bordetella vaccine is an important part of getting a new dog. Owning a dog is a big responsibility that goes beyond just walking, feeding and loving the animal. It also involves providing the dog with the best possible medical care, which includes making sure the dog is immunized against certain diseases. While rabies and distemper are generally the most common vaccinations, many others may be required for certain dogs. One of these vaccinations is the Bordetella vaccine.

What is Kennel Cough?

Although kennel cough is generally used to describe a specific respiratory cough or respiratory illness in dogs, kennel cough is actually a term used to describe more than one illness. In fact, it covers several different respiratory issues.

Dogs may develop a mild case of kennel cough or may develop a severe case that can easily turn into pneumonia, which can be fatal for dogs. While kennel cough on its own is not fatal, it can lead to more serious diseases that can be fatal.

Kennel cough is often referred to as Bordetella because it’s caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. The scientific name for kennel cough is infectious tracheobronchitis. When a dog develops Bordetella, they generally also develop some sort of virus. These viruses may be canine herpes virus, canine distemper, canine reovirus or canine adenovirus. When one or two viruses enter the dog’s system, it can cause secondary infections.

Kennel cough can develop when a dog inhales virus or bacteria particles into his or her respiratory tract. Because the respiratory tract is lined with a layer of mucus that traps infectious particles, you would think that the dog has automatic protection against the disease. However, there are certain factors that can weaken the dog’s immune system and make them more prone to developing kennel cough when the conditions are right. These factors include:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Exposure to poorly ventilated or crowded conditions
  • Travel-induced stress
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke, dust or allergens

Dog owners should be aware of what symptoms they should look for in their dog even if the dog isn’t around other dogs but especially if they have been. Symptoms of kennel cough include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Persistent deep cough
  • Mild fatigue
  • Reduced appetite

Kennel cough generally develops in areas like dog kennels, training facilities, doggie daycares or any place where dogs are exposed to each other. Because it’s so contagious, if one infected dog coughs, sneezes or barks, the germs are in the area and can easily infect several other dogs all at one time. Because dogs most common with this disease have been in kennels, the illness got its name of kennel cough.

What is the Bordetella Vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is a vaccination that can help protect dogs from kennel cough or Bordetella. The vaccination is given in one of two ways. It’s either administered by injection or by way of the intra-nasal system. The intra-nasal method, which involves administering the medication into the nose like nose drops, offers extra protection in the throat, nose and windpipe, which are the areas that first become infected with Bordetella.

The injectable method involves giving the dog a shot just under the skin in the subcutaneous tissue. The method that is used on a dog depends on the dog’s age and the vet’s recommendations. Unlike some vaccinations. like rabies and distemper, the Bordetella vaccination is not required by law. However, boarding kennels and doggie daycare facilities often require kennel cough for dogs staying with them to protect all the other dogs because kennel cough can spread so quickly.

It’s usually administered as an annual vaccination if given as an intranasal vaccine. If given as an injection to adult dogs or dogs over 16 weeks of age, it’s administered twice either two or four weeks apart. The vaccine typically takes ten to 14 days to go into effect.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

As is the case with many medications and immunizations, the Bordetella vaccine also comes with some side effects and temporary risks. The most common side effect is a low-grade fever that generally comes about 24 hours after the dog was given the vaccine.

Although pet owners are often frightened about the prospect of their dogs having a fever, this is a perfectly normal side effect of the Bordetella vaccine. The dog may also have an appetite loss and not have much energy for a day or two. Despite these minor side effects, the importance of this vaccine cannot be stressed enough because Bordetella is such a contagious disease.

Does My Dog Need the Bordetella Vaccine?

Most pet owners are very conscientious about making sure their dogs have all the proper vaccinations. Many dog owners think their dog may not need the Bordetella vaccine because they’re not around other dogs. However, should the owner decide to take his or her dog to the doggie park or a doggie daycare for the day, the dog will definitely benefit from the vaccine.

Because the vaccine takes up to two weeks to become effective, a dog may be refused entrance into a dog facility if he or she isn’t vaccinated against Bordetella. It’s also better to be prepared and to be safe rather than sorry. The Bordetella vaccine is not real expensive and can make a big difference in the dog’s overall health should he or she be around other dogs. Most dogs tolerate the Bordetella vaccine quite well and should be added to the dog’s annual vaccination schedule.