Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

As responsible pet owners, we always want what’s best for our furry friends. Vaccinating our dogs is a crucial part of their healthcare routine, but it’s natural to wonder about potential reactions they may have to certain vaccines. In the case of the Bordetella vaccine, also known as the Kennel Cough vaccine, it’s essential to be aware of the possible reactions. In this article, we’ll explore the common reactions to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs and provide guidance on what to do if your dog experiences a serious reaction.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

You’ve probably heard of Bordetella, commonly known as kennel cough, especially if you’ve taken your dog to places like daycares, boarding facilities, or obedience classes. This upper respiratory infection can spread quickly among dogs in close proximity. Additionally, diseases like parvovirus, rabies, hepatitis, and more can pose serious risks to your dog’s health, with some even being fatal. Vaccines, such as the Bordetella vaccination, play a vital role in preventing these diseases from infecting your beloved pup and safeguarding their well-being.

How and when is the Bordetella vaccine administered?

The Bordetella vaccine is available in two forms: an intranasal spray and an injection. Both options are equally effective in providing protection. The injectable vaccine is suitable for dogs older than 8 weeks, while the nasal spray version can be administered to puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Your veterinarian will determine the most appropriate method for your dog based on their age and overall health.

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What are the most common reactions to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs?

It’s important to remember that mild adverse reactions are normal and expected with any vaccine. While it can be disconcerting to see your furry companion exhibit a reaction, these symptoms are generally mild and short-lived. By being aware of the possible vaccine reactions, you can alleviate any stress or concerns for both you and your dog.


The most common reaction to the Bordetella vaccine is mild lethargy or discomfort, often accompanied by a slight fever. Your dog may seem “off” and have reduced energy levels. This reaction is a sign that your dog’s immune system is responding appropriately to the vaccine. These symptoms typically resolve within a day or two. However, if your dog doesn’t regain their normal energy levels within this timeframe, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian.

Lumps & Bumps

If your dog receives the injectable Bordetella vaccine, you may notice small, firm bumps around the injection site. Some tenderness and stiffness in the area are also common. These bumps occur as a result of your dog’s immune system reacting to the irritation caused by the injection. Keep a close eye on the injection site for any signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, discharge, or pain. If you observe any concerning symptoms, seek veterinary attention to prevent further complications.

Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms

Dogs that receive the Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray may exhibit symptoms resembling a cold, including sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two. However, if your dog experiences more severe symptoms or fails to improve after a couple of days, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.

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Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

While severe reactions to vaccinations are extremely rare, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs. Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, is the most serious reaction that may occur. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include facial swelling, hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and itchiness in your dog. Anaphylactic reactions usually occur within minutes or hours of receiving the vaccine, but they can also manifest up to 48 hours later. If you suspect your dog is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction after the Bordetella vaccine, seek immediate medical attention from an emergency veterinarian.

Can I prevent my dog from having a reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?

Vaccines are essential for protecting your dog’s long-term health and preventing the development of diseases. The risk of serious adverse reactions to vaccination is minimal. However, if your dog has previously had a reaction to any vaccines, including Bordetella, it’s important to inform your veterinarian. They can provide personalized advice and may suggest omitting certain vaccines in the future to minimize risks, especially for optional vaccines like Bordetella.

To reduce the risk of reactions, your veterinarian may recommend separating the Bordetella vaccine from other vaccinations your dog requires. This staggered approach, administered over several days, can be particularly beneficial for smaller dogs.

If you have any concerns or questions about the Bordetella vaccine or preventive healthcare for your dog, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at West Chester Veterinary Medical Center. We’re here to provide expert guidance and ensure the well-being of your furry companion.

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