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Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

Posted: 06/24/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Pet care , Top Tips

The Bordetella vaccine, often referred to as the kennel cough vaccine, is a common preventative measure taken by dog owners to safeguard their canine companions. While kennel cough isn’t a severe illness for most healthy dogs, it can be quite unpleasant and contagious. This article will explore the benefits of the Bordetella vaccine for dogs, including efficacy, side effects, and potential risks.

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What Is Bordetella in Dogs?

The culprit behind many cases of kennel cough in dogs, Bordetella bronchiseptica, is a bacterium that wreaks havoc on the respiratory tract.

What makes Bordetella so tricky is that it is highly contagious and very common in dogs of all ages. It can easily be passed from one pup to the next through close contact, when dogs are coughing and sneezing around one another. A dog can also easily become infected with Bordetella when engaging with bedding and toys that have the bacteria on them.

Because Bordetella is so contagious, those pups who have a very social lifestyle – AKA the ones who spend time in doggy daycare or at the dog park, are predisposed to getting kennel cough. And that’s why so many pup parents choose to get their dog vaccinated.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The following are the most common symptoms in dogs with kennel cough:

  • Dry “honking” cough
  • Sneezing
  • Hacking
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Congestion
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Can Dogs Spread Bordetella to Humans?

While rare, dogs can spread Bordetella to humans. The bacteria is most likely to affect people with weakened immune systems, young children, and the elderly. It’s important to note that the strain causing kennel cough in dogs isn’t perfectly adapted to humans, so transmission isn’t as common as it is between dogs.

Can Dogs Spread Bordetella to Other Animals?

Yes, dogs can spread Bordetella to cats and other animals. The Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is highly contagious and can jump between species, including dogs and cats. This means an infected dog can transmit the bacteria to a cat through coughing, sneezing, or even sharing contaminated objects like food bowls or toys.

To prevent the spread, pet parents should separate any dog(s) with respiratory symptoms from the rest of the pack or other animals in the house until symptoms have fully resolved or the vet has given the ok.

What Is the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine for dogs has been used for decades to prevent kennel cough. It can be given nasally, orally, or as an injection under the skin to puppies between the ages of six to eight weeks. Depending on the dog’s lifestyle, booster doses may be recommended to maintain protection once a year.

Having said that, your vet may recommend updating the Bordetella vaccine every six months if your dog is high risk (spends time in group settings often), a senior, or has a compromised  immune system.

THose pups who do not interact with other dogs and live alone in a household are not at risk for kennel cough and their vets may decide they do not need the vaccine.

Side Effects of the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

THe Bordetella vaccine is considered safe and effective and is generally well-tolerated by most dogs. Having said that, there are some potential side effects dogs may experience.

The most common side effects are an itching or redness at the injection site. Some dogs may also develop a low-grade fever and have a decreased appetite or lethargy for a short time after receiving the vaccine. These typically go away in 24 – 36 hours.

Serious side effects or allergic reactions are rare.

Is the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs Effective?

The Bordetella vaccine has been found to be very effective at preventing the spread of kennel cough. However, like all vaccines, there will be those breakthrough infections. This is very uncommon, however, and the vaccination does reduce the length of infection and severity of symptoms. 

In a majority of cases, Bordetella vaccination can:

  • Reducing risk of kennel cough
  • Reducing spread of kennel cough in group settings
  • Reducing severity of symptoms if dogs do get sick
  • Preventing chronic lung disease and bronchopneumonia secondary to kennel cough
  • Ensuring a dog’s ability to attend training classes, daycares, or grooming and boarding facilities

Final Thoughts

Taking your dog to doggy daycare or the boarding kennel can be a fun and enriching experience, but it also exposes them to other dogs and potential germs. The Bordetella vaccine is a great way to add an extra layer of protection for your fur baby in these social settings.

While the vaccine might not completely shield your dog from kennel cough, it can significantly lessen the severity of symptoms if they do catch it. This means shorter recovery times and a less miserable experience for your pup.

Does Your Dog Need the Bordetella Vaccine?

Since the Bordetella vaccine isn’t considered essential for all dogs, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s specific needs. They’ll consider your dog’s lifestyle factors, such as how often they interact with other dogs at daycare, boarding facilities, dog parks, or training classes. Based on this, your vet can recommend whether the Bordetella vaccine is the right choice for your canine companion.

Pet Insurance – Another Layer of Protection for Your Pup

Even the most cautious pup parent can’t predict the future. Our furry friends are curious explorers, and sometimes that curiosity leads to unexpected scrapes, accidents, or illnesses. 

Enrolling your dog in a pet insurance plan can provide peace of mind knowing you’ll be financially prepared for whatever life throws your way. From routine checkups and vaccinations to unexpected emergencies or ongoing treatments, pet insurance helps you prioritize your dog’s health without breaking the bank. This way, you can focus on showering your dog with love and cuddles, rather than stressing about vet bills.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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