As the loving parent to a canine, you’ll most likely be familiar with the common health concerns for dogs. Things like ticks and fleas and the various intestinal worms will most likely be on your radar along with those more concerning and menacing-sounding illnesses like parvo, distemper, and rabies.

You may have heard of something called kennel cough. Sound familiar? It’s also sometimes called Bordetella – after the virus that causes the illness, Bordetella bronchiseptica. Bordetella in dogs is a highly contagious airway infection that causes coughing and sniffing.

The good news is that Bordetella infections in dogs are rarely as bad as they sound and are easy to treat in healthy dogs. In puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with underlying health conditions, kennel cough can be more severe, which is why it’s essential to vaccinate your pup against Bordetella.


  1. What is Bordetella bronchiseptica?
  2. Does my dog need to get the Bordetella vaccine?
  3. What is the best time for puppies to get their Bordetella vaccine?
  4. How is the Bordetella vaccine administered?
  5. How often do dogs need the Bordetella vaccine?
  6. What are the risks associated with the Bordetella vaccine?
  7. Secret weapon
  8. FAQ

What is Bordetella bronchiseptica?

Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis by its medical term, is caused by several viruses and bacteria. Because these symptoms are so similar, they’re grouped and referred to as kennel cough.

Read more: Kennel Cough in Dogs: a Highly Infectious Respiratory Disease

Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacteria that causes kennel cough. Other causes include Canine parainfluenza (CPIV), Canine adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), and Canine distemper.

Bordetella bronchiseptica leads to inflammation in your dog’s upper respiratory tract, resulting in the trademark kennel cough – a loud, hacking cough that almost sounds a bit like honking at times. Infection with the bacteria can also expose your dog to secondary infections – while the immune system is focused on fighting off the Bordetella, other viruses and bacteria can sneak in and opportunistically take hold.

According to research, Bordetella in dogs is highly transmissible through the air or direct contact. It is usually contracted in areas where dogs congregate, like kennels (hence the name), dog parks, and doggie daycare.

Does my dog need to get the Bordetella vaccine?

Is the Bordetella vaccine necessary? What is the Bordetella vaccine for? If your dog spends time around other dogs at dog parks, training classes, dog shows, groomers, daycare, or boarding facilities, your precious pup is at risk of contracting kennel cough.

You may even find that many training facilities, kennels, and daycares request proof of Bordetella vaccinations before allowing your dogs on the premises.

Suppose your dog is a homebody and is rarely around other dogs, chat with your vet. In that case, they’ll be able to advise the risk to your dog of contracting the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.

What is the best time for puppies to get their Bordetella vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is what’s called a non-core vaccine, meaning it’s not recommended for all dogs and it’s also not legally required, like the rabies vaccine. Your vet may recommend that your dog get the Bordetella vaccine based on your puppy’s lifestyle, location, and existing conditions.

Read more: Pet Vaccinations Guide For Cats & Dogs

The Bordetella vaccine is typically given to puppies at around eight weeks of age and is sometimes bundled with the parainfluenza vaccine.

How is the Bordetella vaccine administered?

The Bordetella vaccine can be administered in three ways – orally, intranasally (through the nose), or injected.

Your vet will work with you and your dog to select the most appropriate solution.

How often do dogs need the Bordetella vaccine?

The ideal Bordetella vaccine schedule for a dog at risk of contracting the bacteria is to vaccinate your dog against Bordetella every 6 to 12 months.

The intranasal version (taken through the nose) is typically administered annually, but some boarding facilities and daycares may require it to be administered every six months to ensure that maximum immunity is maintained.

In puppies, the intranasal or injectable vaccine can be given before 16 weeks, but it will require a booster one month later.

After vaccination, it takes around 10 to 14 days to achieve partial immunity, so ensure you vaccinate your dog in good time or expect to stay home for a bit until this time has passed.

What are the risks associated with the Bordetella vaccine?

Most vaccines have the potential to cause some side effects, but these are all well-studied to ensure that they are medically safe. One must always weigh the risk of vaccines against the benefits that the vaccines provide.

If your dog is sick or pregnant, your vet will weigh the pros and cons of vaccination to determine what’s best for your dog.

The first side effect noticed after your dog receives the Bordetella vaccine is a low-grade fever lasting up to 24 hours. This is nothing to worry about and will pass on its own. Your dog may also seem a little out of sorts; low energy and lack of appetite might be noticeable too, but these will also pass.

Your dog may develop a cough after getting the vaccine, but it should pass within a day or so. If it doesn’t, contact your vet.

Secret weapon

Thankfully, kennel cough, the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, or Bordetella vaccine don’t often lead to emergencies in healthy dogs. But it’s always good to have a secret weapon when emergency care for your dog is needed.

Emergency care can lead to some staggering vet bills. But you don’t need to face these situations on your own. Petcube offers an affordable alternative to traditional pet insurance in the form of an Emergency Fund.

For less than $1 a day, you have access to up to $3000 a year to cover any emergency veterinary care for up to six pets. Every cat and dog can be covered, regardless of age, breed, or medical history.

The cover also includes convenient 24/7 online vet help to ensure that any and all pet-related questions you may have are instantly and professionally answered. No more taking to Google, no more guessing and stressing. Just real-time answers by licensed veterinarians.

For just $29 a month, you can know that your beloved companion will be taken care of in an emergency.


What are the Bordetella vaccine side effects in dogs?

The most common side effects of the Bordetella vaccine in dogs include the following:

  • Lethargy – the most common side effect of the Bordetella vaccine for dogs;
  • A small bump at the injection site;
  • Sneezing and cold-like symptoms, mainly if the vaccine is administered via nasal spray.

If, after getting the vaccine, your dog develops a cough that doesn’t go away after a day or two, you should get to your vet as soon as possible. If you often have to head to the office or elsewhere and leave your doggo alone at home, interactive pet camera can come really handy so you can hear & talk to your pets when you are away from them.

How do dogs get Bordetella?

The Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is a highly contagious bacteria that spreads rapidly between dogs in places where dogs socialize or gather. Places where Bordetella spreads and thrives include training facilities, dog shows, boarding kennels, daycare, groomers, dog shows, and dog parks.

The bacteria spread via the air and from direct contact, resulting in the bacteria reaching the dog’s respiratory tract.

How long does the Bordetella vaccine last?

It’s recommended that the Bordetella virus be given every six to 12 months to maintain a high level of immunity.

Can dogs still get kennel cough with the Bordetella vaccine?

Yes. Kennel cough is a catch-all term that describes several viruses and bacteria that cause the barking cough and respiratory irritation.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is just one of the causes of kennel cough, albeit the most common. Because of this, getting the Bordetella vaccine will significantly reduce your dog’s chances of contracting kennel cough, but it won’t guarantee that your dog won’t get kennel cough from another virus or bacteria.

Other potential causes of kennel cough include Canine parainfluenza (CPIV), Canine adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), and Canine distemper.

What is the best dog Bordetella treatment?

Treatment for kennel cough usually includes steroids, cough suppressants, and anti-inflammatories to ease the symptoms. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent secondary infections.

If your dog has kennel cough, it’s good to keep them away from other dogs for about two weeks to ensure the infection does not spread.

If you have a humidifier at home, this can help moisturize your dog’s airways and make them more comfortable.

Can I give my dog the Bordetella vaccine at home?

Yes, you can. It is possible to purchase Bordetella vaccine kits from some vet offices and various retailers. You might also need to present a prescription from your vet to purchase these kits.

If you wish to administer the vaccine yourself, you must follow the package instructions very carefully. We’d recommend chatting it through with your vet before going ahead to be safe.

One way to be sure you’re doing it right is to get your vet to show you how to administer the Bordetella vaccine the first time, so you’ll know exactly how it’s done and can do it on your own in the future.

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