Vaccine details

  • Type: Non-Core
  • USDA approved? Yes
  • Life stage: All

A large part of a veterinarian’s role is keeping our canine patients healthy and protecting them from disease that can transmit to humans in the household. Veterinarians also evaluate environmental risks and recommend individual vaccination strategies to protect our pets when they are out in the community.

We want to know what exposure your pet has on a daily basis. Does your dog go to communal dog spaces? Does he socialize in dog runs or public parks? Does your dog have regular grooming appointments? Does he go to training classes or boarding facilities? 

If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these questions, your dog is at risk of contagious respiratory diseases caused by the Bordetella bacteria—the most common being kennel cough

This disease can cause a lingering cough and decrease in appetite in adult dogs and serious disease like pneumonia in puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems. But the Bordetella vaccine for dogs can help protect your pup from kennel cough and other respiratory diseases.

What is the Bordetella Vaccine?

The canine Bordetella vaccine helps to protect against infection from a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica. This vaccine was created to be given to dogs that are considered socially active. This includes dogs that go to groomers, boarding facilities, dog parks, daycares, training classes, live in large apartment communities, and those that participate in pet therapy.

The Bordetella vaccine protects dogs against kennel cough. This leads to some confusion around the naming of the vaccine. But the kennel-cough nickname originated because many of the cases of this disease were dogs that were frequently boarded. However, this disease can impact any socially active dog, not just those in boarding facilities.

This vaccine can be given orally, intranasally (through the nose), or with an injection. It is administered in all small animal clinics, but also routinely given at shelters, humane societies, rescues, government-run animal groups, and even by some breeders. 

How Does it Work?

Photo of Bordetella vaccine for dogs

As veterinarians learned more about this bacterium, we found that Bordetella alone does not create the kennel cough disease. In fact, experts learned that affected dogs first had to become infected with a virus called parainfluenza. 

This is NOT to be confused with canine influenza, or the dog “flu.” Parainfluenza virus causes the little hairs (or cilia) inside a dog’s trachea (or windpipe) to become paralyzed. Why is this so important? Well, these hairs are responsible for flicking bacteria upward and outward away from the lungs to help prevent respiratory disease. But, when those hairs can’t work temporarily, Bordetella bacteria has an unobstructed path into the respiratory system of the dog, causing cough and other signs.

Because of this knowledge, most effective Bordetella vaccines also have coverage against the parainfluenza virus too. So, this vaccine actually has dual protection!

Bordetella Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

With any vaccination, it’s always very important to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s individual and environmental risk factors. That being said, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, the leading voice on vaccine protocols for small animal veterinarians in the United States, the recommended Bordetella vaccine schedule for puppies and dogs is as follows:

Puppies can be vaccinated with the intranasal (administered through the nose) vaccine as early as 3 weeks of age (depending on the product label). A second dose should be given two to four weeks later. 

Alternatively, puppies can receive the injectable Bordetella vaccine starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by a booster between 10 and 12 weeks of age.

For adult dogs or puppies older than 16 weeks, the intranasal vaccine can be given once, and the injectable vaccine should be given twice—2 to 4 weeks apart.

Adult dogs should then receive a booster every 6 to 12 months, depending on exposure risk.

Side Effects of the Bordetella Vaccine

Sleepy Chihuahua on bed

Bordetella is considered a very safe vaccine for dogs in general, but just like with any vaccination given to any species, there are some general categories of side effects after vaccination. 

Some of these side effects include:

Pain at the injection site. If the vaccine is given under the skin (subcutaneous), your dog may experience some pain at the site of the injection. This is usually temporary and goes away on its own without any intervention. 

Sneezing or reverse sneezing. The Bordetella vaccine can be administered in the nostrils and some dogs may experience sneezing or reverse sneezing (a loud, repetitive, throat-clearing noise) for a few minutes after the vaccination. While noticeable, this side effect usually resolves quickly. 

Sluggishness and a slight appetite decrease. After any subcutaneous vaccination, some dogs may experience a small amount of sluggishness or inappetence for a short period of time. These signs should go away on their own. If they do not, contact your veterinarian.

In very rare instances, dogs—just like people—can have anaphylactic reactions to vaccination, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine. If your dog starts to vomit, develops hives (red, raised itchy bumps on the body), develops swelling around the face and eyes, has difficulty breathing, or collapses, seek out veterinary care immediately. Signs of allergic reactions typically happen within 10-30 minutes of receiving the vaccine.  

Manufacturers of the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

There are several manufacturers of Bordetella vaccines today. Some of these vaccines also protect against the canine parainfluenza virus and the canine adenovirus.

Manufacturer Product Name Product Type Protects Against
Boehringer Ingelheim Recombitek Oral Bordetella bronchiseptica
Elanco Bronchi-Shield Oral Oral Bordetella bronchiseptica
Elanco Bronchi-Shield III Intranasal Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine Parainfluenza Virus, Canine Adenovirus, Canine Adenovirus 1
Merck Animal Health Intra-Trac3 Intranasal Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine Parainfluenza Virus, Canine Adenovirus 2
Zoetis Vanguard B Oral Oral Bordetella bronchiseptica
Zoetis Vanguard B (IN) Intranasal Bordetella bronchiseptica
Zoetis Bronchicine CAe Injectable Bordetella bronchiseptica

What is the major difference between the oral, intranasal and injectable versions? All of these vaccine types work, but the selection process is also determined by how fast we need protection, the stress level of the dog for administration and the underlying health of the pet. 

The intranasal and oral vaccines do work and protect faster, and they are a great choice if your dog needs to go to a boarding facility within a few days of vaccination. However, if you have more time and planning before a boarding event, the injectable vaccine is a good option and provides longer lasting immunity. And, as mentioned, some dogs are not comfortable with oral or intranasal administration of a vaccine, and that may make injectable versions more appropriate.

Cost of the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

In most locations around the country, this vaccine varies in cost from $20-$45 depending on the route of administration (injectable vs intranasal) and the average cost of veterinary care per region.

Does Your Dog Need This Vaccine?

Dogs playing at boarding facility

Remember, the dogs most susceptible to kennel cough are the socially active dogs in the community and dogs that have a weaker immune system because of disease or current medications. If your dog frequently goes to a boarding facility, groomer, training classes, or does pet therapy, the recommendation is to have your veterinarian vaccinate your dog using the Bordetella vaccine.  

As always, please talk to your veterinarian. He or she knows your dog and your lifestyle best and will help you make the most informed decision about the health of your best friend.

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