Content Reviewed by an Essentials PetCare Veterinarian

Have you ever kenneled your dog or sent them to doggy day care? If so, you’ve likely heard of both Bordetella and the Bordetella vaccine. There’s a lot of information on the web about both the sickness (also known as kennel cough) and the vaccine. You may have even read some frightening accounts from people who claim the Bordetella vaccine killed their dog. 

But what is fact and what is fiction? As a dog owner, it’s important to understand the risks of Bordetella, the facts, and common misconceptions about the vaccine

What Is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica, or kennel cough, is a highly contagious disease that attacks your dog’s upper respiratory system. As its name suggests, it causes a dry, hacking cough in dogs. It can also cause flu-like symptoms. Bordetella is transmitted in areas with lots of dog interaction – like the park, doggie daycare, and boarding facilities. 

Fortunately, the disease is treatable and usually not severe in most dogs. But kennel cough can progress into fatal bronchopneumonia in puppies or chronic bronchitis in senior and immunocompromised dogs. Because it can put some dogs at much greater risk, it’s important to get your pet vaccinated.

Does My Dog Really Need a Bordetella Shot?

If your dog rarely comes into contact with other dogs and is mostly house-bound, you may be wondering if you really need a Bordetella shot. Ultimately, follow your veterinarian’s advice

But as with any vaccine, the Bordetella vaccine does give your pet a leg up if they are exposed to the bacteria that causes kennel cough, and this can occur during a simple walk or a quick trip to the groomer or veterinarian. Bottom line? It’s important to talk to your veterinarian to decide if your dog might be at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

Also, many places actually require regular Bordetella shots to help keep kennel cough at bay. These places include:

  • Dog parks
  • Dog shows
  • Doggy daycare
  • Boarding facilities
  • Pet groomers

And the vaccine can be administered as either an injection, a nasal spray, or an oral solution, which can be used on puppies six weeks of age and older.

Can the Bordetella Vaccine Kill My Dog?

Perhaps the biggest question you may be asking yourself is whether the Bordetella vaccine could hurt or even kill your dog. A quick internet search exposes stories of grief-stricken pet owners who claim to have lost their pets after possible adverse reactions to vaccines. 

With any vaccine, it is always possible that there could be side effects in your pet. But it’s also important to remember that in the majority of cases, the benefits of being vaccinated far, far outweigh the risks of contracting a disease instead. In addition, extensive scientific research is conducted to ensure the safety of all vaccines before releasing them to the public. 

That said, if your dog is sick, pregnant, immunocompromised, or has had adverse vaccine reactions in the past, you should talk with a veterinarian about whether a Bordetella vaccine is right for them. And watch them closely for reactions if you decide to vaccinate them. It’s a good idea to plan on vaccinating your pet when you know you’ll be home and able to monitor them. 

Potential Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effect from Bordetella vaccines is a mild cough that resolves on its own within a few days. One study, from the American Journal of Veterinary Research, showed no reported side effects in dogs following Bordetella vaccine administration.

Although most dogs tolerate vaccines very well, contact your veterinarian if you observe any of the following side effects after you vaccinate your pet:

  • Lethargy
  • Lumps, tenderness or swelling at the injection site
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Respiratory distress

Bordetella Vaccine at Essentials PetCare

At Essentials PetCare, our experienced veterinary technicians can administer the Bordetella vaccine for $40. It is offered as a singular service, or as part of our bundled canine value packages, which start at just $90. We offer tiered packages so you can select the best fit for your pet and your budget. 

Remember to bring records showing proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccine with the following info:

  • date given
  • date due
  • vaccine manufacturer
  • serial number 

And remember, we can give a rabies vaccine at the same time as other services if your dog’s vaccines aren’t up to date. 

While there are misconceptions about vaccines, the majority of vaccines – including Bordetella – are well tolerated. And most importantly, they arm your pet against much more serious illness and future veterinary visits and expenses. 

Essential Tip: Every vaccine package we offer at Essentials PetCare comes with a doctor’s exam and preventative medication prescriptions (unless otherwise noted).


*Prices subject to change. See current prices: