Does My Dog Need The Bordetella Vaccine?


dog bordetella vaccine

You’ve probably seen the name Bordetella on a list of vaccines available to your dog.

But you might be wondering if your pup even needs the Bordetella vaccine in the first place.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, a veterinary behaviorist at Pet Behavior Medicine and Civilized Pet in California, to answer all your questions about the Bordetella vaccine for dogs.

What is Bordetella in dogs?

Bordetella in dogs is a bacterial respiratory infection that causes inflammation.

“Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that lives in the airways and creates respiratory problems in dogs,” Dr. Schwartz told The Dodo.

It’s a major cause of kennel cough, although kennel cough can be caused by other respiratory illnesses, as well.

What is the Bordetella vaccine for dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine is a preventative measure created to protect dogs from the illness. 

Unlike most other vaccines, the Bordetella vaccine doesn’t always have to be injected.

“There's two forms of the vaccine,” Dr. Schwartz said. “There's one that's injected. And there's one that's intranasal.”

Both forms of the Bordetella vaccine are effective, but according to Dr. Schwartz, the intranasal option — which is administered in the form of nose drops — should be your first choice.

“The intranasal [vaccine] is better,” Dr. Schwartz explained. “It gives a better immune response, and it goes directly to the point of entry, most of the time, of the virus. So, that one is preferred, but the subcutaneous one is effective as well.”

It’s important to remember that even though the vaccine will protect your dog from Bordetella, it won’t provide guaranteed protection from kennel cough, since that can still develop from other illnesses.

Does your dog need the Bordetella vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine for dogs is a non-core vaccine, meaning it’s not necessary for every dog.

“I don't think that all dogs absolutely need it,” Dr. Schwartz explained. “But if they go to training classes or daycare or go to dog parks or are boarded frequently or at all, they should have it.”

And even though it’s a non-core vaccine, a lot of daycare centers, boarding kennels or dog parks will still require pups to be vaccinated for Bordetella, since it’s contagious and easily spread from dog to dog.

When does your dog need a Bordetella vaccine?

You can get your dog vaccinated against Bordetella whenever you want, whether he’s a puppy or an adult dog.

The important thing is appropriately timing your dog’s Bordetella vaccine with any plans that may require the vaccine, like being boarded or taking a trip to doggy daycare.

“We need at least three weeks between the first vaccine and the booster,” Dr. Schwartz said. “So, you need to take that into consideration if you're planning on boarding your dog somewhere.”

Keep in mind that Bordetella is a non-core vaccine, so you should prioritize core vaccines — distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus and rabies.

“I think it's better to get the other vaccines out of the way,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Usually the first Bordetella [vaccine] is given in conjunction with the second or third round of distemper vaccines.”

How often does your dog need a Bordetella vaccine?

According to Dr. Schwartz, the Bordetella vaccine for dogs consists of an initial vaccination as well as a booster to be administered every six months if needed.

As far as any additional boosters, that’s something to discuss with your vet, since it depends on how often your dog might be exposed to Bordetella.

“I think they still recommend that you do it every six months if your dog is a frequent flyer at boarding situations or dog groups,” Dr. Schwartz said. “It depends on the recommendations of the veterinarian in the area.”

How much does the Bordetella vaccine cost?

Exact prices obviously vary depending on the veterinarian clinic you go to, but the average cost of a Bordetella vaccine by itself is about $19 to $45, according to CareCredit

In addition to the cost of the vaccine itself, you’ll probably have to pay the rate for a standard vet visit, too.

“It would be the [cost of the] veterinary exam plus the cost of the vaccine,” Dr. Schwartz explained.

Are there any side effects of the Bordetella vaccine?

Side effects are a big concern for pet parents about dog vaccinations, in general, but according to Dr. Schwartz, the Bordetella vaccine shouldn’t cause an issue.

“[There are] no common side effects,” Dr. Schwartz said.

That being said, obviously consult with your vet first to discuss how the Bordetella vaccine may affect your pup specifically (especially if he has allergies or is immunocompromised).

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