Does Your Puppy Need a Bordetella Vaccine?

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Dr. Debra,


I have a 12-week-old puppy and wanted to know if I should vaccinate him for Bordetella?


Thank you so much for your great puppy info! It has really helped me housetrain my puppy!


Beth Ann Zippos, Boston MA

Hi Beth Ann,

Thanks for your question about puppies and the Bordetella vaccine. Bordetella is one of the bacterial causes of "kennel cough." If your puppy is to be boarded, go to the groomer, dog park, and doggy day care or interact with other dogs on a regular basis, the Bordetella vaccine is recommended.

If your puppy is boarded at a kennel, the kennel will require this vaccination.

Bordetella is highly contagious, and readily transmitted through the air or by direct contact. Signs of kennel cough include coughing which can be mild in healthy adult dogs or severe in unvaccinated dogs or dogs with other health issues.

A puppy’s risk of kennel cough is determined by the probably of exposure to other dogs. If the risk is great, a vaccine against bordetella is recommended.

The bordetella vaccine can be given by the intranasal (in the nose) route or by injection. The intranasal vaccine may work faster to give immunity but either method is acceptable.


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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) provides 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 vaccine 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 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 bordetella 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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