Bordetella Vaccine Cost and Availability

Medical articles
A dog being checked by a vet to get the bordetella vaccine

Our dogs are more than just pets. They are our furry family members. They are there for us through thick and thin. They make us laugh, they make us cry, and they love us unconditionally. That's why we do everything we can to keep them healthy and safe. 

One of the best ways to protect your dog from disease is to get them vaccinated. The Bordetella vaccine is one of the most important vaccines for dogs. Bordetella is known to many as “Kennel Cough”. Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is the most common cause, and this respiratory infection is risky even for healthy pets, but especially young dogs, very old dogs, and dogs who have other diseases and illnesses. 

The Importance of Bordetella vaccines 

The Bordetella vaccine is a great way to prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms from a bordetella infection. While it won't prevent sickness in every case, vaccinated dogs are less likely to have severe signs. This could mean a quicker recovery, less discomfort for your pet, and lower treatment expenses. 

Puppies, adult dogs with other health conditions, and older dogs should be vaccinated according to their veterinarian’s recommendations since they’re more vulnerable to significant illness. 

Although rare, it’s also possible for cats to become sick from Bordetella bronchiseptica, as the bacteria is transmissible between dogs and cats, and even cat- to- cat. There are vaccines available for cats as well, and cats in high-risk situations could benefit from this protection. 

Understanding Bordetella 

Dogs with bordetella have a significant cough (usually dry), sometimes accompanied by nasal discharge, lethargy, changes in appetite, and occasionally pneumonia. Exposure isn’t limited to kennels; Dogs can pick it up at dog shows, obedience classes, daycare, grooming salons, and even everyday spaces like dog parks. 

Prevention is simple with the Bordetella vaccine. These are typically given once a year for dogs at low or average risk, or as often as every 6 months for dogs who are at higher risk. 

If your dog is sick with Bordetella, veterinary care is recommended. Cough suppressants may be dispensed to control symptoms, while antibiotics may or may not be used depending on your dog’s signs. Pet insurance for dogs can help with the cost of new conditions that develop after the waiting period. It’s possible that severe cases may require hospitalization for respiratory therapy. 

Bordetella Vaccine 

The Bordetella vaccine is necessary for all dogs with frequent exposure to other dogs. While it's an optional “lifestyle” vaccine, it’s strongly recommended for pets at risk. Some Bordetella vaccines can be given as young as 3 weeks of age – it's a great vaccine to discuss while you’re deciding on other puppy veterinary care like what other vaccines they need, and when to neuter (or spay) a dog. The vaccine is repeated annually through adulthood and is sometimes even given twice a year for dogs at high risk. 

The Bordetella vaccine is well studied and considered very safe. The most common side effect to Bordetella nose drops is sneezing. Rare localized reactions may occur in dogs with the injection. Dogs given the oral drops may salivate or gag. Otherwise, side effects are rare. 

a puppy sniffing a hypodermic needle with the Bordetella vaccine

Cost of Bordetella Vaccine 

The cost of veterinary care is always an important thing to consider when you’re getting a new puppy. In addition to routine vaccines, you will want to consider the cost of neutering (or spaying) a dog, and microchipping cost too.  

Bordetella vaccine cost depends on where the vaccine is being offered and the vaccine manufacturer. Typically Bordetella vaccines range between $15 - $45 based on these factors. Nonprofit veterinary clinics offering low cost vaccines often use less expensive vaccine products to help make costs approachable for pet owners. Veterinary clinics seeking modern vaccine technology will often carry newer products that are slightly more expensive. But rest assured, all vaccines are approved by the USDA and will offer your pet the same benefits. 

Optional Pet wellness plans can help manage the cost of Bordetella and other vaccines in a series of puppy shots, or even for continued care for adult dogs. Including all vaccines, puppy shots cost on average $200 - $400 per visit, in a series of 3 – 5 visits through puppyhood. 

Bordetella Vaccine Administration – Can you buy Bordetella vaccine over the counter? 

Vaccines administered by veterinary professionals carry efficacy and safety guarantees that over-the-counter products can’t offer. So while bordetella vaccines may be purchased from a feed store or pet supply store, those vaccines are also manufactured using less advanced technology and may not be as effective at protecting your pet from the disease. 

Vaccines from a veterinary office are likely to have the most robust guarantees for safety and effectiveness, with vaccine manufacturers working with hospitals to educate their teams, and also provide assistance with care if the vaccine is ineffective or leads to a reaction. 

If your pet’s care has already been established with a veterinarian within the last few months and they’re otherwise healthy, you may be able to start the Bordetella vaccine with just a visit with a veterinary technician or nurse. Otherwise, you can schedule a routine appointment with your dog’s veterinarian to start the vaccine. 

Additional Costs and Considerations 

Most vet visits will include an examination or consultation fee; the cost varies by location but can range between $20 for a veterinary nurse visit (if your pet has been to that office for routine care recently) and $50 for an appointment with the veterinarian. 

Typically, only one dose of the vaccine is needed, and subsequent boosters just happen once a year (in some cases twice a year) thereafter. The Bordetella vaccine can easily be given at the same time as other routine vet visits or vaccines, so you can avoid paying for additional visits. 

Alternatives and Discounts 

There are no safe alternatives to the Bordetella vaccine, but because there are a range of Bordetella vaccine options available, the cost may vary from one clinic to another. Be aware that office visit prices also vary, so if you call one office and they have a lower vaccine price, ask about the cost of the exam fee too. 

Low cost vaccination clinics, such as those operated by animal shelters or other nonprofits, may be able to offer reduced cost exam fees and bordetella vaccines. 

a puppy resting after getting the Bordetella vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions About the Bordetella Vaccine

How often should pets receive the bordetella vaccine? 

The bordetella vaccine is administered just once to start, and then should be boostered every 6 months to a year depending on your dog’s risk factors. 

Are there any side effects of the bordetella vaccine? 

Side effects of the bordetella vaccine are rare and usually mild. If bordetella nose drops are given, some sneezing may be observed. If bordetella oral drops are given, some drooling or gagging are possible. If the bordetella vaccine is given by injection under the skin, some discomfort at the injection site is possible. 

Can puppies and kittens receive the bordetella vaccine? 

Some bordetella vaccines for dogs are approved for use in puppies as young as 3 weeks of age and kittens as young as 4 weeks – it's important to talk with your pet's veterinarian to find out what age is appropriate based on the bordetella product they carry. 

Do pets need appointments for vaccinations? 

Most veterinary clinics require an appointment for bordetella vaccines. It’s rare for veterinary clinics offer walk-in appointments, so be sure to call the veterinary office well in advance to find out if an appointment is required or not. However, many pop up clinics do not require appointments, just be sure to bring your pet’s medical records.   

Can cats receive the bordetella vaccine? 

There are bordetella vaccines that are made specifically for cats, you can check with your cat’s veterinarian to find out if it’s a vaccine they offer. Cats that are sick with Bordetella will have similar signs to dogs, with coughing, sneezing, sometimes eye and nose discharge. Cats are very sensitive to respiratory infections, so veterinary care is often needed and could be costly. Cat pet insurance is a great resource to help pet owners with the cost of veterinary care. 

If a pet has already had kennel cough, should they still get the bordetella vaccine? 

Because kennel cough can be caused by a range of bacteria or viruses, it’s possible that their kennel cough was caused by something other than Bordetella bronchiseptica. Even if exposed, bodily immunity to Bordetella only lasts about 6 – 12 months, so continuing to vaccinate at-risk dogs every 6 – 12 months for life is recommended 

Can pet owners buy the bordetella vaccine and administer it themselves? 

While there are over-the-counter available vaccine products, they don’t carry the same safety or efficacy guarantees as the high quality products available through veterinarians. Pet owners may choose to administer them to save on cost, but it may be in their dog’s best interest to seek vaccination through a veterinarian instead. 

How to Make Pets More Comfortable During Vaccination Visits 

Many pets seem to handle veterinary visits very casually, but if your pet is nervous or reluctant, using positive reinforcement is a great way to keep them happily distracted and help them adapt to vet visits over time. Keep their favorite treats handy at all times, make sure the travel to and from the vet is as stress free as possible. If your pet gets really stressed traveling or at the vet, consider talking to their veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications that could help! 

Getting your dog vaccinated against Bordetella is a small act of love that can make a big difference in their lives. It's a way to show them how much you care and want to keep them safe. When you get your dog vaccinated against bordetella, you're not just protecting them from a serious disease. You're giving them the gift of a long, healthy life, and more time to spend with you, the one they love most in the world.