Bordetella Vaccine: Side Effects of the Kennel Cough Vaccine

Bordetella Vaccine: Side Effects of the Kennel Cough Vaccine

Last Updated on February, 2023

The truth about the Bordetella vaccination is omitted in most online blogs on this topic. But why? Regardless of the reason, it’s a problem dog owners should find answers to.

Not only do I know what’s missing, I also know what you SHOULD do about the life threatening complications or serious symptoms associated with Bordetella.

Let me tell you everything you MUST know about your dog receiving the Bordetella vaccine.

Let’s get into it.

What is This Bordetella Vaccine?

a veterinarian vaccinating a dog

It is a mandatory anti-bacterial vaccine PROVEN to be successful. The bacteria it fights against is Bordetella bronchiseptica (B. bronchiseptica).

Related article:

What’s the Purpose of the Bordetella Vaccine?

Catching Bordetella bacteria inflames the upper respiratory system of your dog. The Bordetella shot or the vaccine greatly reduces this respiratory system inflammation. 

It’s as simple as that.

The Bordetella vaccination comes as a nasal spray Bordetella vaccination as well. However, the nasal spray Bordetella vaccination is not as efficient as a Bordetella shot. 

How Frequently or When Do Dogs Need A Bordetella Shot?

dog vaccination chart

Are you wondering “how often will my dog need a Bordetella vaccine?”

Your vet’s recommendation will be every 6-12 months after the first shot. Most dogs will adhere to this cycle, which is scientifically recommended. If you’re a pup parent, take the pup to the vet between 6-8 weeks.

You’ll probably have to take the pup for the second dose between 10 and 12 weeks or four weeks later. However, the vaccination isn’t suitable for dogs younger than 8 weeks old.

Unvaccinated? Here’s What’ll Happen (Including Kennel Cough)

So, how do I know so much about the subject? It’s as a result of a thorough analysis of case studies of dog parents who had one thing in common to say; “ I didn’t get my dog vaccinated on time.”

The risk of not vaccinating your dog should NOT be handled by unprepared dog owners. It’s a risk that’s not worth the consequences.

Bordetella pertussis bacteria is what causes whooping cough, also called kennel cough. This results from respiratory inflammation, as I told you earlier. This adverse reaction should NOT be undermined. 

But there’s one more issue as well. You won’t notice the inflammation until it reaches the excessive coughing stage.

The Types of Dogs That Benefit the Most From the Vaccine 

There are some major types of dogs that benefit the most from the Bordetella vaccine. Check if your dog belongs in any of these groups.

  1. If your dog usually runs out to have fun in the outdoors
  2. If your dog spends time at doggy daycares or dog parks
  3. If you have a habit of taking your dog for walks or maybe to dog parks
  4. If your dog takes obedience classes often. (Any sort of training facility comes under obedience classes)

The common factor here is the elevated exposure to other dogs; that’s the true red flag. 

But the answer is not to raise your pup isolated; the solution is well-timed vaccinations. Your dog DESERVES that walk in the local dog park.

The Main Side Effects of the Bordetella Dog Vaccine 

The term “side effects” usually draws a negative picture. However, most of these indications suggest that the dog’s immune system optimally works against the Bordetella vaccine.

So, what are the main side effects caused by the Bordetella dog vaccine?

When Administered From The Nasal Spray Version

It’s a common request, although not as effective as the Bordetella vaccine. The spray will obviously make the dog’s nose respond more. That’s why you’d notice a runny nose. It’s also common to notice sneezing cold like symptoms as well.

These symptoms do not come close to a serious adverse reaction, and most dogs recover from them within a day or two. Since this sort of reaction is almost immediate, you won’t have to worry about the dog suffering silently.

a human vaccinating a dog's nose

When Administered As A Vaccination

Choosing the vaccination when getting your dog vaccinated against kennel cough is the right choice. 

Let us look at some mild adverse reactions following a Bordetella shot.

Tip: Do not hesitate to constitute medical advice, although the classification is mild adverse reactions. All of them could escalate to worse levels.

Malaise Lethargy or Discomfort

Noticing malaise, lethargy, or discomfort following the Bordetella vaccine is only normal. 

But, symptoms like malaise lethargy or discomfort are ONLY shown following a successful vaccination. That’s why it’s a very common reaction.

Runny Nose

This reaction typically occurs with the nasal spray version. So, it’s a convenience to choose the injectable type of the vaccination since the injection greatly reduces the risk of the runny nose. 


This fever is actually a VERY mild fever, and it’s only in EXTREMELY rare cases dogs do tend to have very high fever. 

However, my advice is to seek veterinary help if that very mild fever persists before it skyrockets. Fever complications usually occur following the injectable Bordetella vaccine.

Cold Like Symptoms

I told you how the dog would end up with a runny nose with the spray version of the vaccine. However, a dog’s nose is an excellent indicator of its health, and that’s why you’ll also see sneezing cold like symptoms when your dog is vaccinated against Bordetella.

Lumps and Knots

Doesn’t it swell a little bit when a mosquito bites you? This skin irritation is a reaction.

Somewhat of a similar and common reaction occurs at the injection site following the injectable form of the vaccine. However, the lump should ONLY be at the injection site. 

It’s NOT normal if your dog shows any knots, bumps, or skin irritation elsewhere in the body.

Excessive Cough

Excessive cough is the starting point of one of the many serious symptoms. Most of these symptoms pop up to tell you your dog’s immune system is working. However, the vaccine greatly reduces a number of complications that are far worse than these side effects.

What Can You Do When Side Effects Start to Show?

Almost all the side effects will quickly come up, whether it is the injectable Bordetella vaccine or the intranasal spray.

The general rule of thumb of medical advice regarding pets is ALWAYS to see a vet. It’s wise to have an emergency veterinarian on board to deal with unfamiliar adverse reactions. 

It’ll bring tremendous reassurance to both you and your dog.

Benefits, a Dog Vaccinated Against Bordetella Get 

The Bordetella shot prevents simple respiratory infections from escalating to life-threatening complications — that’s the short version.

The long version is full of benefits..

  1. You won’t have to pay more for more complicated conditions
  2. Your dog will get to enjoy a comfortable life
  3. Your neighbors (and you) don’t have to tolerate the excessive cough of the dog
  4. Your dog’s medical records will have one essential entry 

But what if a reaction to the Bordetella got worse? Or could they get any worse to begin with?

Let’s find out.

Could the Reaction to the Bordetella Get Any Worse?

Respiratory inflammation is like cancer; early diagnosis is the best. But when the persistent cough comes out, it’s already too late.

But could it get any worse? Yes, it can, and it’s an EVEN serious adverse reaction.

Kennel or whooping cough itself is not deadly. But bronchopneumonia (in pups) and chronic bronchitis (in adult dogs) are what comes next.

Remember the rule of thumb of medical advice regarding pets; the vet is king (or queen!).

A Glimpse at a Severe Allergic Reaction

In extremely rare cases dogs could show an anaphylactic response. This doesn’t go down on its own. So, you MUST constitute medical advice regarding the matter as soon as possible.

An anaphylactic response is DEFINITELY an extreme reaction to Bordetella. Here’s how to confirm it.

  1. Excessive vomiting
  2. Breathing complications
  3. Face swelling up
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Itching

Seeing an emergency veterinarian is THE MOST IDEAL solution for this. 

The chances for you to complicate allergic reactions from experimenting on what you find online is not a risk worth taking.

Is Your Dog Coughing After the Vaccine? 

There CAN be occasions when your dog continues to cough even after the Bordetella vaccine. The BIGGEST mistake you can make here is vaccinating the dog with the Bordetella vaccine one way or the other.

So, there are two questions at hand.

Why Does This Happen?

While there are many reasons for this, some stand out as being frequent. The first reason is the poor quality of the Bordetella vaccine, and the second reason is the root cause of whooping cough. 

The Bordetella vaccine indeed fixes the respiratory inflammation that causes whooping cough. But it’s not the only bacteria that causes this sort of problem.

There’s no such thing as a wasted Bordetella shot; it’s necessary. However, there are OTHER reasons for causing this persistent cough, and how can you expect the cough to be gone when the real problem is not fixed.

What Should You Do?

Consulting a vet is the ultimate solution for BOTH the reasons. Do NOT get a second Bordetella booster shot by concealing medical reports, as it can backfire FATALLY. 

An unprescribed Bordetella booster shot could cause an even severe allergic reaction.

With a differential diagnosis, your vet can locate the real problem with the cough other than the Bordetella bacteria.

In Conclusion

The Bordetella vaccine can make a dog’s life better in multiple ways. But it also can make your dog have a reaction or two usually.

Knowing the reactions to the Bordetella and how to constitute medical advice regarding the matter MUST be a priority. That’s since NOT getting your pup vaccinated is far worse than the temporary side effects.

Eventually, both you and your dog can roam your local dog park without feeling paranoid.


Was this article helpful?

Photo of author
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

Leave a Comment