Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Here, our Cave Creek vets share the potential side effects dogs can develop after the Bordetella vaccine and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these vaccinations for dogs.

Dogs that have thriving social lives have a higher risk of catching Bordetella (often known as kennel cough) from their doggy daycare centers or after visiting a local dog park and should receive the Bordetella vaccine to make sure they stay healthy and happy.

If your dog spends most of its time inside you should talk to your veterinarian to get more information about this shot and find out if the Bordetella vaccine is right for your pup.

While the benefits of the Bordetella shot greatly outweigh the risks, there are a few side effects that may be worrying to dog owners that are unprepared.

Why should my dog get the Bordetella vaccine?

While the Bordetella vaccine is an optional vaccination and not a core vaccination, many dog parks, doggy daycares, or obedience classes require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough in order to be able to participate.

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 plan on enrolling your dog in any type of program outside of your home or to be a regular visitor to your local dog park, we recommend asking your vet about having your dog get the Bordetella shot.

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 will my dog require a Bordetella shot?

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

There are two forms of this vaccination available, an injection and an intranasal spray that your vet will administer into your dog's nose. 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 the Bordetella vaccine for dogs? How long will the side effects last?

Similar to vaccinations for people, mild adverse reactions are not only possible but to be expected as a result of vaccination. Reactions to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs are usually mild and short in duration, so while it may be stressful to see your dog experiencing some side effects, it's important to know that they are safer and healthier for it.

Being prepared to care for your pup post-vaccine will make the process less stressful for both you and your dog. Here we have listed some of the most common side effects dogs can develop after getting the Bordetella vaccine.

  • 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 develops as a side effect of the dog's immune system working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. These symptoms are normal and should only last a day or two.
  • 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 but, any time a dog's skin is punctured there is a chance of infection. You need to keep an eye on the injection site. Check for signs of pain, redness, swelling, and discharge. If it goes untreated, infected areas can cause 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.

My dog is coughing after the Bordetella vaccine, what do I do?

As a general rule, reactions to the vaccine are mild and short-lived. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, such as a persistent cough, for more than one or two days you should seek additional medical care and call your veterinarian. In very rare situations, a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine might require medical intervention.

Are there any allergic reactions to the Bordetella vaccine?

In extremely rare cases dogs can develop an anaphylactic response to vaccinations. 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.

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.

Contact our Cave Creek vets today to learn more about vaccinations and preventive care for pets or to schedule an appointment for your dog's vaccinations.