Many organizations, such as doggy daycare centers, kennels, or boarding facilities will require dogs to receive the Bordetella vaccine or the kennel cough vaccine before they are permitted to enter the facility.

What is the Bordetella vaccine? Does my dog even need it?

Here is everything you need to know about the Bordetella vaccine and kennel cough vaccine to make sure your dog has what he or she needs to stay healthy.

What is Bordetella Vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is a non-core vaccine that is administered to both dogs and cats that are frequently exposed to other pets. The most common facilities include the following:

  • Doggie daycare centers
  • Boarding Kennels
  • Dog and cat shows
  • Dog parks
  • Training classes
  • Professional groomers

This is because Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacteria responsible for kennel cough in dogs.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a disease caused by bacteria that is also known as canine parainfluenza virus. This illness causes inflammation in a dog or cat’s upper respiratory tract.

The most common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and sometimes even a mild or low-grade fever—similar to human flu-like symptoms.

When a dog is infected with Bordetella bronchiseptica, he or she is also at risk for other infections.

Although it sounds scary, Bordetella bronchiseptica or kennel cough are treatable. In fact, Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the many vaccine-preventable diseases. Furthermore, canine parainfluenza virus is typically treated with a vaccine, such as Duramune max.

What is Kennel Cough?

Most veterinarians won’t tell you that your dog has Bordetella bronchiseptica; rather, they refer to the illness as Kennel Cough.

Infectious tracheobronchitis is also commonly referred to as kennel cough, which is extremely common and contagious in dogs. This is why it is so important for dogs that spend a lot of time around other animals receive the vaccination.

However, the Bordetella vaccination is a non-core vaccination, which means it may not affect all dogs and cats.

Kennel cough isn’t life-threatening by any means, but no pet owner wants his or her dog to catch any illness, especially while being boarded in a kennel or attending doggy daycare.

Kennel Cough vs. Whooping Cough: Is it the Same? Bordetella Pertussis Vaccine

So, what is the difference between kennel cough and whooping cough?

Kennel cough is clearly identified with the sound of a horrible cough coming from your canine friend. However, kennel cough is only transmitted from canine to canine.

Humans can suffer from a whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), which also involves a harsh cough caused by the pertussis toxin. This disease is often treated with acellular vaccines or a whole-cell pertussis vaccine, such as a TDap vaccine.

Does My Pup Need the Bordetella Vaccine?

Many pet owners wonder whether or not their dog really needs the Bordetella vaccine and how often.

Although there aren’t any conclusive studies that show the value of the Bordetella vaccine frequency, many vets and kennel operators recommend getting the vaccine every six months to a year.

Although kennel cough is highly contagious, it is really only required for dogs that visit dog parks, kennels or boarding facilities, doggie daycare centers or attends training classes on a regular basis.

If your dog is rarely around other dogs or stays in the house, then speak with your veterinarian about whether or not the Bordetella vaccine is really necessary for your dog.

Does My Cat Need it? Feline Bordetella Vaccine

Now that we know that kennel cough is highly contagious and is commonly transmitted between dogs in social atmospheres, is it necessary for cats?

Cats and kittens can catch what is known as Feline Bordetella.

According to Cornell University, Feline Bordetella is incredibly similar to the feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus.

This disease is incredibly common and contagious among cats. It involves an upper respiratory infection that often causes symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and a mild fever.

Therefore, the feline Bordetella vaccine may be necessary for your cat or kitten, especially if he or she spends a lot of time with other animals.

However, similar to dogs, Bordetella doesn’t affect all cats and kittens.

With that being said, elderly cats are at the highest risk of catching the disease.

Most vets do not administer the Feline Bordetella vaccine as part of a cat’s annual routine check-up. Therefore, you may want to ask your vet about whether or not your kitty will benefit from the vaccine.

Can Doggo Eat It? Bordetella Vaccine Oral

Today there is a new oral Bordetella vaccination choice known as Bronchi-Shield Oral.

This oral Bordetella vaccination that is just as effective at preventing dogs from canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or also known as canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD). Bronchi-Shield Oral was recently approved by the USDA for dogs.

A Non-Core Vaccine! Bordetella Vaccine Cost

Bordetella Vaccine Cost: Affordable for Pet Owners!

The good news is the Bordetella vaccination is very affordable. It costs approximately $10 to $15 for a one-time vaccination or $20 to $30 for two vaccinations. 

Bordetella Vaccine Schedule

As we mentioned above, pet owners are encouraged to speak with their veterinarians about how often the kennel cough vaccine is really needed.

Bordetella Vaccine Tractor Supply

Pet owners can even find the Bordetella vaccination at some pet stores or retail stores, such as Tractor Supply.

How Long Does Bordetella Vaccine Last?

Depending on how often your dog is exposed to other dogs or how much time he or she spends in doggie daycare, dog parks or other public areas will ultimately determine how effective and the length of time the Bordetella vaccine will last.

For dogs that are frequently around other dogs, getting the Bordetella vaccine once every six months is recommended.

Bordetella Vaccine: How Often Should It Be Given?

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, here are some guidelines on how often the Bordetella vaccine or kennel cough vaccine should be given to your dog:

  • Puppies can be given the intranasal Bordetella vaccine as early as three weeks old; a second follow-up dose should be given up to four weeks later
  • Puppies can be given the injectable Bordetella vaccine starting at six to eight weeks of age, and a booster at ten to twelve weeks
  • Kittens can be given the vaccine as early as eight weeks old
  • Dogs or puppies at least 16 weeks old can receive the intranasal vaccine once and the injectable vaccine twice
  • Cats or kittens at least 16 weeks old can be given a single dose of the intranasal vaccine with annual boosters
  • Dogs should receive the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine every six months up to a year, depending on the level of exposure

Swelling, Diarrhea After the Vaccination? Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

Pet owners want to know what to expect after their dog or cat receives the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine. Like any medication—for pets or humans—side effects and risks are always possible.

Bordetella Vaccine Reaction

The most common side effects after receiving the Bordetella vaccine include the following:

  • Some nasal discharge (particularly when administering intranasal vaccines)
  • Soreness at the injection site
  • A low-grade fever
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms are often experienced by pets after receiving any vaccination. However, if these symptoms persist longer than a few days, then give your vet a call.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

Some rare side effects of the vaccination include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing

Seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog or cat experiences these symptoms.

All in all, not every dog or cat is a good candidate for the Bordetella vaccination. Dogs or cats that may be sick or pregnant should not be vaccinated.

Again, be sure to speak with your vet before administering any intranasal or injectable vaccination.

Intranasal Bordetella Vaccine Vs Subcutaneous Bordetella Vaccine Dog

Over the last several years, the decision of whether or not to vaccinate a pet has become somewhat controversial.

Most pet owners would bring in their puppies and pets to the vet for their yearly shots and not think twice about doing it. This was necessary for keeping pets healthy.

However, with the number of diseases that dogs and pets are at risk for, and with research suggesting a link between the onset of diseases and vaccinations, many pet owners are beginning to think twice before vaccinating their puppies.

The most common types of vaccinations are injectable.

The most common injectable vaccinations are formulated to protect animals from parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, bordetella, and rabies. With the advancements in modern veterinary medicine, vaccines are now available in different forms, such as in the eyes, nose or mouth.

For example, as we explored above, the vaccine for Bordetella bronchiseptica is available as an oral vaccine, a nasal vaccine or as an injectable vaccine. Nasal vaccines are often placed directly in the nasal canal.

However, there are pros and cons to each type of vaccination, and not all are effective at protecting your puppy against diseases.

Nasal Vaccinations: The Pros and Cons

There are a number of pros to using the Bordetella intranasal vaccination.

PRO: In fact, one of the primary advantages to the intranasal vaccination is that it is not injectable. Some dogs are incredibly sensitive to needles and often experience muscle soreness after receiving the injection.

Furthermore, some studies have shown that the intranasal vaccination provides fast-action protection as it is administered in the dog’s upper respiratory system, which is often where the disease begins to form.

CON: On the other hand, studies have also shown the opposite effect—that the intranasal vaccination is less effective than the injectable vaccination.

Dogs that have been previously exposed to or have contracted the Bordetella disease may not be protected at all by the intranasal vaccine. Some have questioned the effectiveness of the intranasal vaccine, especially when given to dogs that have either been previously vaccinated or have been exposed to bordetella.

Results show that the intranasal vaccine works best in dogs that have never been vaccinated or that have never had kennel cough.

Similar to the injectable vaccine, some side effects to the intranasal vaccine may occur.

Some of the most common side effects include sneezing, coughing, or a mild fever. Some side effects won’t develop until a day or two after receiving the vaccination. From there, it can take a total of four days for a dog to feel and act his or her normal self.

Recommended Vaccination Method for Dogs

Although studies have shown conflicting results, most professional veterinarians will recommend the injectable Bordetella vaccine be administered to puppies and dogs.

Pet owners can also opt to have their dog receive the intranasal vaccine the first time, but then later follow up with the injectable vaccine to ensure overall effectiveness.

It’s also important for pet owners to avoid exposing their dog to other dogs in a kennel or a daycare center for at least five days following the vaccine.

This allows the vaccine to pump through the dog’s body, adding a layer of protection before the dog comes into contact with another possibly infected canine.

Protect Your Dog or Cat from Respiratory Diseases

Remember, the Bordetella vaccine falls in the non-core vaccines family meaning it is not mandatory. Yet, many services and facilities require dogs to have the vaccine due to safety reasons.

Practically speaking, if your dog or cat is very social, and spends a lot of time in kennels, boarding facilities, or pet daycare centers, then your pet may be a good candidate for the Bordetella vaccination.