Can a Dog have a reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine? Side effects and other facts about the Bordetella Shot.

In today's article, our Davidson County vets discuss the possible side effects of dog vaccinations for Bordetella and answer other frequently asked questions surrounding optional shots for dogs. 


Dogs who live very social lives are at an increased chance of catching Bordetella (Often called kennel cough) from their doggy daycare centers or from a visit to the local dog park and should be vaccinated against Bordetella to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

For dogs who stay inside, pet owners should consult their veterinarian to learn more about the shot and see if the Bordetella vaccine is right for them.

While the shot's benefits greatly outweigh the risks, there are some side effects that can be alarming to unprepared dog owners. 

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

While the Bordetella vaccine is an optional vaccination, rather than a core vaccination, many doggy daycares, dog parks, or obedience classes will require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough to take part. 

Simple respiratory infections can easily evolve into dangerous and life-threatening conditions, so in order to protect your dog and the dogs with whom they frequently socialize, it's best practice to add the Bordetella shot to their preventative care plan.   

If you intend to enroll your dog in any kind of program outside the home or to be a regular at your local dog park, you should ask your vet about the Bordetella shot for your dog.

The vaccine greatly reduces the chance of Bordetella in dogs. Furthermore, while not 100% effective in preventing infection, the vaccine is guaranteed to decrease the likelihood of serious symptoms or life-threatening complications should a dog vaccinated against Bordetella contract an infection. 

How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot?

Your veterinarian will recommend a Bordetella booster shot every six-to-twelve months based on your pet's risk of exposure to Bordetella. 

This vaccination comes in 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 suitable for dogs younger than 8 weeks, but the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as 6 weeks old.  

What are the side effects of dog vaccinations against Bordetella?  How long do side effects last?

Just like vaccinations in people, mild adverse reactions are not only possible but to be expected as a result of vaccination. Reactions are generally mild and short-lived, so while it can be stressful to see your dog suffering through side effects, it's important to remember that they are healthier and safer for it.

Being prepared to care for your pup post-vaccine will make the process less stressful for both you and your dog. Below is a list of the most common side effects dogs can experience from the Bordetella vaccination.

  • Lethargy
    • The most common reaction a dog will have to receive the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of malaise, lethargy, or discomfort, often accompanied by a very mild fever. This reaction arises as a side effect of the dog's immune system working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last one or two days. 
  • Lumps & Bumps
    • If your dog receives the injectable form of the Bordetella vaccine, lumps and bumps can occur around the injection site. A small, firm bump may develop, as well as some tenderness and stiffness in the area. Most likely these bumps are just the result of skin irritation, however, any time that the skin is punctured there is a possibility of infection. Be sure to keep an eye on the site where the injection was given. Look for signs of swelling, redness, discharge, and pain. If left untreated, infected areas may lead to more serious conditions. 
  • Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms
    • If your dog received their Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray, then it is common and ordinary for symptoms of a cold to present themselves. Adverse reactions to nasal spray Bordetella vaccination include coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two.

What should I do if my dog is coughing after receiving the Bordetella vaccine?

As a general rule, reactions to the vaccine are mild and short-lived.  If your dog demonstrates 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.

Are there allergic reactions to the Bordetella dog vaccine?

In extremely rare cases dogs can have an anaphylactic response to vaccination. This is a severe allergic reaction characterized by swelling in the face, hives, vomiting, issues breathing, diarrhea, and itchiness in your dog. This reaction typically occurs within a few minutes or hours of your dog receiving 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 emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.

To learn more about the vaccination and preventative healthcare services, or schedule a vaccine so your dog can join our doggy daycare program, Thomasville Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery offers for your dog, contact our Davidson County vets today to book a consultation.

Dog at vet for bordetella vaccine, Thomasville Vet

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