Content Reviewed by an Essentials PetCare Veterinarian

Have you ever boarded your dog or taken them to doggy daycare? If so, you’ve probably been asked if they’ve had a Bordetella vaccine. So, what exactly does this vaccine protect against? And why do dogs need it in shared settings?

The Bordetella vaccine for dogs is a non-core vaccine. That means it’s recommended based on lifestyle rather than being recommended for every dog. But for many dogs, it’s important protection against the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. This is the most common bacteria which can cause kennel cough.

Since the Bordetella vaccine is often required for safety reasons, it’s included in all Essentials PetCare canine vaccine packages. Below, we’ll go into the details of both Bordetella and kennel cough. We’ll also cover prevention, vaccine cost, and other frequently asked questions.

Bordetella vs. Kennel Cough

Bordetella and kennel cough are two terms used frequently in conjunction with the Bordetella vaccine, but they aren’t actually the same thing. 

Bordetella refers specifically to Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacteria that causes inflammation in your pet’s upper respiratory tract. Once inflamed, your dog is prone to a dry, hacking cough, infection and illness. These symptoms would be diagnosed as kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis.

If your dog does contract kennel cough, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Retching
  • Distinctive honking cough
  • Wheezing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Gagging
  • Nasal discharge and congestion
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Low fever

Where does kennel cough get its name? From one of the most common locations the respiratory disease is spread: kennels. It’s highly contagious, and spread through contact with other dogs, aerosol droplets, and shared toys and food/water bowls. But any location where lots of dogs are interacting can be a breeding ground for kennel cough.

These places include:

  • Doggy daycare
  • Dog parks
  • Training classes
  • Shelters
  • Groomers
  • Boarding facilities
  • Dog shows

Kennel cough can be caused by more than one type of bacteria as well as certain viruses. But the Bordetella vaccine is the best defense against the most common bacterial cause of the disease.  

Worries about the cost of vaccines? Know that we package many of our vaccines together to keep prices down. And remember: some protection is better than no protection

Have other concerns? Keep reading to learn answers to commonly asked questions about the Bordetella vaccine.

FAQ about the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

Does My Dog Need a Bordetella Vaccine?

Kennel cough is highly contagious, and any dog who spends time around dogs outside their household is at risk. Additionally, many of the facilities listed above will require proof of Bordetella vaccination before allowing your dog to enter. 

If your dog rarely leaves the house or interacts with other dogs, they may not need the vaccine. But veterinarians will often advise you to have your dog vaccinated anyway since kennel cough is so easily transmitted. Thankfully, the condition isn’t fatal. However, if left untreated, it can lead to fatal conditions in puppies and older or immunocompromised dogs. 

Is the Bordetella Vaccine Required by Law?

The Bordetella vaccine for dogs is not mandated by law. Most states only require the rabies vaccine. But remember that your dog will be denied access to many facilities without it. And with vaccinations, your dog can build up enough antibodies to be protected against Bordetella bronchiseptica. This will reduce their chances of contracting kennel cough.

How Often Do Dogs Need a Bordetella Shot?

When should your dog receive a bordetella shot? How frequently do they need one? 

These answers depend both on your dog and on the facility requiring the vaccine. The vaccine and booster schedule will also vary depending on how your dog is receiving it. In other words, whether they are getting it orally, intranasally, or as an injectable. 

At Essentials Petcare, the Bordetella vaccine is included in all our puppy and canine vaccine packages. It can be given as a single service as well. 

Although the schedule will vary based on your dog, a sample schedule for a puppy might look like this with either one or two doses of Bordetella in the puppy series then annually thereafter:

  •  6-8 weeks
  • 10-12 weeks
  • 16-18 weeks
  • 12-16 months
  • Every 1-3 years 

How Is the Bordetella Vaccine Administered?

So, you’ve decided the Bordetella vaccine is a good fit for your dog. What’s the best way to get them vaccinated?

Some farm supply stores sell an over-the-counter Bordetella vaccine. However, this brand does not have any studies proving its efficacy — and it isn’t approved by veterinarians

The best way to ensure your dog is getting adequate protection against kennel cough? Have the Bordetella vaccine for dogs administered safely and effectively by a licensed veterinarian’s office or pet clinic like Essentials PetCare

Is the Bordetella Vaccine Safe for Dogs?

Some people have questioned the safety of the Bordetella vaccine. However, the overall consensus in the medical community is that vaccination protection outweighs vaccination risk

As with any vaccinations, your dog may experience some mild side effects. Like a few days of low-grade fever, sneezing, or soreness around the vaccination site (if given by injection). But serious side effects are rare.

As always, you should discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian to determine the best plan of care. If your dog is severely immunocompromised, sick, or pregnant, the Bordetella vaccine may pose more risks to them than the average dog. 

How Much Does the Vaccine Cost?

The Bordetella vaccine can range in cost, depending on how and when your dog is receiving it. Why the range? It depends on where you go

Some veterinarians offer comprehensive annual care, so the price may include check-up services as well as shots. On the other hand, animal shelters offer shots for significantly less. However, you’ll need to work with their schedules and sometimes limited availability. At Essentials PetCare, our affordable puppy and canine vaccine packages range from $70 to $180, always including a doctor’s exam. Additionally, the Bordetella vaccine is available to you as a single service for just $40.

How do we keep our prices on the lower end of the spectrum? By offering, well, the essentials

Essential Tip: We not only offer vaccine packages, but minor illness packages as well! These include a veterinary exam, diagnostics, treatment, recommendations, and portable prescriptions, if necessary, tailored to your pet’s discomfort.


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