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Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

By Jacqueline Brister

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Bordetella bronchiseptica is the primary bacteria associated with kennel cough (i.e. infectious tracheobronchitis) in dogs. This respiratory tract disease is extremely contagious, spreading most easily in areas with many dogs living in close quarters with one another (e.g. boarding facilities). Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include coughing, gagging, sneezing, and respiratory congestion. While antibiotics can be helpful, the symptoms may continue for months because of the inflammation and irritation to the airways.

Bordetella Vaccine

Fortunately, a vaccine is available for Bordetella bronchiseptica. It may also be called a Bordetella shot or kennel cough vaccine. Sometimes Bordetella vaccines are combined with parainfluenza virus vaccines to protect dogs for multiple types of respiratory tract infections at the same time. Bordetella vaccines can be given by mouth (i.e. orally), in the nose (i.e. intranasally), or as an injection under the skin (i.e. subcutaneously).

Bordetella Vaccine Schedule

How often Bordetella vaccine is given depends a little on your pet’s risk. For the most part, the intranasal vaccine appears to be good for at least one year. Subcutaneous and oral versions of the vaccine vary a little bit more on their length of effectiveness. Some veterinary clinics recommend boostering the Bordetella vaccine every six months to ensure pets are well protected. This is especially important in dogs who will be spending extended periods of time in kennels or boarding facilities.

Depending on the type of vaccine, Bordetella shots can be given as early as three to four weeks of age in puppies; however, most veterinarians will wait until puppies are eight weeks or older to start the Bordetella vaccine series. With intranasal and oral versions of the Bordetella shot, one vaccination may be adequate, followed by yearly boosters. If the subcutaneous vaccine version is given, the puppy will need to be boostered 2-4 weeks after the first shot and then yearly after that. Some veterinarians will also booster oral or intranasal vaccines in 2-4 weeks as well. In adult dogs, single vaccines given yearly or two vaccines given 2-4 weeks apart followed by a yearly booster are common.

Bordetella Vaccine Cost

Cost of the Bordetella vaccine depends on your area and the type of vaccine given (i.e. with or without parainfluenza combination, administration route, etc.). If your pet needs a physical examination in addition to the vaccine, the visit will cost more. Most veterinary clinics have cost information readily available and can tell you what is recommended based on your pet’s needs and the area/environment your pet lives in.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

Serious Bordetella or kennel cough vaccine side effects are uncommon. Rarely, the intranasal form of the vaccine can cause mild symptoms of kennel cough. These symptoms usually go away quickly without the need for treatment. Pain at the injection site may occur with the subcutaneous version of the vaccine. Sneezing or reverse sneezing (i.e. a gruff, repetitive, throat-clearing noise) is common after the intranasal vaccine, but this side effect is relatively harmless and goes away fairly quickly.

As with any vaccine, dogs can experience a vaccine reaction to the Bordetella vaccine. This can be a life-threatening side effect. Symptoms can include swelling of the face and red splotches or hives on the stomach and chest. If you notice these symptoms, call your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency clinic immediately to determine what needs to be done next.

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