Bordetella Vaccination for Dogs – What You Should Know

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What is Bordetella in Dogs?

Bordetella is one of the bacterial causes of "kennel cough." Kennel cough is a highly contagious inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and bronchial tree caused by a contagious virus (adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, canine distemper virus) or bacterium (Bordetella bronchiseptica).

What Dogs are at Risk for Bordetella?

The disease is associated most often with dogs housed in a high-density population or boarding kennel. If your dog is to be boarded frequently, go to the groomer, dog park, and doggy day care or interact with other dogs, it is recommended. Puppies and younger dogs are at greatest risk, but even old dogs can acquire kennel cough. If your dog is boarded at a kennel, the kennel will require this vaccination.

How is Bordetella Transmitted in Dogs?

The infectious agents can be transmitted through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces.

What are Signs of a Bordetella Infection?

The cough associated with acute infectious tracheobronchitis, (ITB) or kennel cough, is a high-pitched, honk-like cough, sometimes followed by retching. The cough is often worse with activity and can persist for minutes. Other signs may include (irritated eyes), rhinitis (runny nose) or sneezing. More severe signs include loss of appetite, depression, or fever.

The incubation period from the time the dog first contracts the infection to the time that symptoms develop is typically between 3 to 10 days, and the symptoms can last for days to weeks. A mild to moderate cough without other symptoms is usually self-limiting; however, occasional cases become lingering and cause chronic bronchitis.

Any of these signs should prompt a visit to see your veterinarian in order to be certain pneumonia has not set in.

When is the Bordetella Vaccine Recommended?

The vaccines to protect against Bordetella in dogs is recommended to be given to dogs at risk for exposure to Bordetella. The highest risk dogs housed in a high-density population or boarding kennel. If your dog is to be boarded frequently, go to the groomer, dog park, doggy day care or interact with other dogs, it is recommended.

How and When is the Bordetella Vaccine Administered?

The bordetella vaccine can be given intranasal or by injection. The intranasal vaccine may work faster to give immunity both either method is acceptable.

The American Animal Hospital Association provide the following vaccination recommendations:

  • Puppies can be vaccinated using the intranasal vaccine as early as 3 weeks of age (depending on the product label); a second dose should be given two to four weeks later.
  • Puppies can receive the injectable vaccine starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by a booster three to four weeks later – between the ages of 10 and 12 weeks.
  • For adult dogs or puppies older than 16 weeks, the intranasal vaccine can be given once OR the injectable vaccine can be given twice, two to four weeks apart.
  • Dogs should receive boosters every 6 to 12 months, depending on exposure risk.

For all vaccines, it is important to vaccinate at least 5 days before potential exposure. Vaccines do not work immediately. It takes time for the body to respond to the vaccine, develop immunity and provide protection against the specific disease.


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