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Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Bordetella vaccinations play a critical role in helping to protect dogs (especially those who spend time in social settings) from certain respiratory infections like kennel cough. In this post, our Elk Grove vets explain the benefits of Bordetella vaccinations for dogs, how they help, and potential reactions and side effects for dogs that have had the Bordetella vaccine. 

The Bordetella Vaccine & Booster Shots for Dogs

If your dog spends a lot of time with other pups, they are at increased risk for contracting Bordetella (also referred to as kennel cough) during their visit to a local dog park, doggy daycare center, or kennel. Your pooch should be vaccinated against Bordetella to help keep them healthy and happy. When researching various dog vaccinations, you might have questions like, "How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot?" and "How long does Bordetella last in dogs?". 

Owners of dogs that spend most of their time inside should discuss the shot with their veterinarian and determine whether the Bordetella vaccine is right for their pup. 

While some side effects of the vaccine may concern some unprepared dog owners, pooch parents should know the benefits of having your dog vaccinated against Bordetella far outweigh the risks.

Which dogs benefit from having the Bordetella vaccination?

Though the Bordetella vaccine is an optional lifestyle vaccination as opposed to a core vaccination, lots of doggy daycares, dog parks, or obedience classes will require dogs to be vaccinated against Bordetella before they'll be allowed to participate. 

Sometimes, simple respiratory infections can develop into serious, life-threatening conditions. To help keep your dog (and the dogs they socialize with) safe, our vets recommend adding the Bordetella shot to your pet's preventive care plan. 

If you intend to enroll your dog in any kind of program outside the home or to regularly frequent your local dog park, ask your vet about the Bordetella shot for your dog. 

Where Bordetella is concerned, having your dog get this vaccine can help to greatly decrease the risk and severity of this respiratory illness. Additionally, while not 100% effective at preventing infection, the vaccine is guaranteed to decrease the probability of serious symptoms or life-threatening complications if your vaccinated dog does contract the infection. 

How often do dogs need the Bordetella shot?

Your vet will recommend a Bordetella booster shot every six to twelve months depending on your canine companion's risk of exposure to Bordetella.

This vaccination takes two forms, an intranasal spray that your vet will administer in your dog's nose, and an injection. Both are comparably effective. The injectable Bordetella vaccine isn't appropriate for puppies under 8 weeks old, while the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as 6 weeks of age.

Can the Bordetella vaccine cause dogs to have side effects?

You may be wondering about the potential side effects of dog vaccinations if your dog is due for their Bordetella vaccine. Mild adverse reactions are not only possible when having your pup vaccinated but should be expected. Reactions are generally mild and short-lived, so while it's worrying to see your dog having these side effects, it's important to know that they are healthier and safer for it.

Understanding what to expect after your dog gets the Bordetella vaccine will make the process less stressful for both you and your pup. Here we have listed some of the most common side effects dogs can experience from the Bordetella vaccination.


The most common reaction dogs will experience after having the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of malaise, lethargy, or discomfort, often accompanied by a very mild fever. This reaction develops as a result of the dog's immune system working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last a or two.

Lumps & Bumps

If your dog receives the injectable form of the Bordetella vaccine, lumps and bumps can arise near the injection site. A small, firm bump can develop, as well as a bit of tenderness and stiffness in the area. Usually, these bumps are only the result of skin irritation, but any time that the skin is punctured it's possible for them to get an infection. You need to keep an eye on the injection site. Watch for signs of swelling, redness, discharge, and pain. If it goes untreated, infected areas can lead to more serious conditions.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

If your dog received their Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray, it's common and normal for them to develop cold symptoms. Your dog may experience coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose after having the Bordetella vaccine. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two.

What should I do if my dog starts coughing after getting the Bordetella vaccine?

In most cases, reactions to the vaccine are mild and short in duration. If your dog exhibits any of the above symptoms, including a persistent cough, for more than a day or two you should contact your vet to seek additional medical care. In rare extreme cases, a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine may require medical intervention.

Can dogs develop a severe allergic reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?

In extremely rare cases dogs can have an anaphylactic response to their vaccination. This severe allergic reaction in dogs is characterized by swelling in the face, hives, vomiting, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, and itchiness. This type of reaction will generally arise in a few minutes or hours after your dog receives the vaccine but it can occur as late as forty-eight hours following vaccination. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis after receiving the Bordetella vaccine, contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do your suspect your dog is having a reaction to a vaccine? Contact our Elk Grove vets or the nearest veterinary emergency hospital right away. 

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