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Can a dog have a reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Are you wondering about potential side effects of dog vaccinations, specifically Bordetella? Our Westport vets address these and other frequently asked questions around these optional shots for dogs. 

Why is the Bordetella dog vaccination important?

Does your dog live a very social life? He or she has an increased risk of catching Bordetella (also referred to as kennel cough) during a visit to the local dog park or doggy daycare center. 

Pooches who frequent these spaces should be vaccinated against Bordetella should be vaccinated to ensure they remain happy and healthy, even if they are exposed to the bacteria that causes this respiratory disease.

If you have an indoor dog, consult your veterinarian about whether the Bordetella vaccine is right for your pooch. While the benefits of the Bordetella vaccine greatly outweigh risks, unprepared dog owners may be alarmed to discover some side effects. 

Bordetella Vaccine Reaction in Dogs, Westport Vets

Why should I have my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

The Bordetella vaccine is an optional vaccination rather than a core vaccination. That said, many obedience classes, daycares, dog parks and other communal settings will require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough to participate. 

Even simple respiratory infections can easily progress to dangerous and life-threatening conditions. To protect your pup and the dogs they frequently socialize with, we recommend adding the Bordetella shot to their preventive care plan. 

If you intend to register your dog in any kind of activity outside the home or to stop in at your local dog park, ask your vet about the Bordetella shot for your dog. 

This vaccine greatly reduces the risk of Bordetella for dogs. In addition, while the vaccine isn't 100% effective at preventing infection, it will reduce your pup's risk of experiencing life-threatening complications or serious symptoms should they contract a Bordetella infection after receiving the shot. 

How often will my dog need a Bordetella shot?

Your veterinarian will recommend a Bordetella booster shot every 6 to 12 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.


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.

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.

Is it time to schedule your dog's Bordetella vaccine, or do you want to learn more about our vaccination and preventive healthcare services? Contact our Westport veterinary team to book a consultation or appointment.

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Westport Veterinary Associates has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Fairfield County since 1993.

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