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Can a Dog Have a Reaction to a Bordetella Vaccine?

Can a Dog Have a Reaction to a Bordetella Vaccine?

Vaccinating your dog almost always outweighs any risk of adverse reactions to the vaccines. For dog illnesses such as Bordetella—or Kennel Cough—there are a few possible adverse reactions to your dog's vaccinations. Here, our Pleasant Hill veterinarians discuss the most common adverse reactions to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs and what to do if your dog has a severe reaction.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

Bordetella, or kennel cough, is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection. And, equally likely, if you've taken your dog to a daycare, boarding facility, or group obedience class, you've been asked, "Is your dog vaccinated against Kennel Cough?" Bordetella, parvovirus, rabies, and hepatitis are just a few of the diseases that can cause serious symptoms and may even be fatal in dogs. Vaccines, such as the Bordetella vaccination, prevent these diseases from developing in the first place, thereby preserving your pup's health.

How often does a dog need a bordetella shot?

The bordetella shot for dogs comes in two forms, an intranasal spray that your vet will administer into your dog's nose, and an injection. Both are comparably effective. The injectable Bordetella vaccine isn't suitable for dogs younger than 8 weeks, but the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as 6 weeks old. 

What are the most common side effects of bordetella dog vaccinations?

Mild adverse reactions to any vaccine are not only possible, but also expected. While it may be upsetting to see your pet react to a vaccine, it's important to remember that these reactions are typically mild and brief. Knowing what to look for in terms of vaccine reactions and what to do if your pup begins to exhibit more severe symptoms can help make the Bordetella vaccination process less stressful for both you and your pup!


The most common reaction a dog will have to receive the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of malaise, lethargy, or discomfort, often accompanied by a very mild fever. Many people would describe this feeling as "off." This reaction is the immune system of your dog working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. You may be wondering how long the bordetella vaccine lasts in dogs. Worry not. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last one or two days. If your dog isn't back to its normal levels of energy after a couple of days, contact your vet.

Lumps & Bumps

If your dog receives the Bordetella vaccine via injection, lumps and bumps may occur, particularly near the injection site. A small, firm bump, as well as tenderness and stiffness in the area, may develop. These bumps are the result of your dog's immune system reacting aggressively to the injection site irritation.

Having said that, any time the skin is punctured, infection is a possibility. Keep an eye on the injection site. Swelling, redness, discharge, and pain are all signs of infection. Infected areas may progress to more serious conditions if left untreated. Consult your veterinarian if the area becomes increasingly red or exhibits any of the symptoms listed above.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

This reaction can be quite common if your dog received their Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray. This reaction encompasses several symptoms that appear much like a cold. Your dog may be coughing after a bordetella vaccine, sneeze, and have a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If your dog is showing more severe symptoms or does not recover within a couple of days, it's time to call the vet.

Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

The majority of vaccination-related reactions are mild and transient. However, in rare instances, more severe reactions may occur, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is the most common of these extremely rare reactions. This is a severe allergic reaction that manifests itself in your dog through swelling of the face, hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and itchiness. This reaction typically manifests itself within minutes or hours of your dog receiving a vaccine, but it can take up to 48 hours to manifest. If your dog exhibits any of the anaphylaxis symptoms listed above after receiving the Bordetella vaccine, contact your emergency veterinarian immediately.

Can I prevent my dog from reacting to the Bordetella vaccine? 

Vaccines aid in the long-term protection of your pup's health and well-being by preventing diseases from ever occurring in the first place. Furthermore, the risk of your canine companion experiencing a severe adverse reaction to vaccination is quite low.

Having said that, if your dog has ever had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, whether it was for Bordetella or another disease, always notify your veterinarian in advance. They may advise you to avoid a particular vaccine in the future to minimize risks—particularly if the vaccine is optional, such as Bordetella.

When multiple vaccinations are given at the same time, the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations increases slightly. This is especially true for smaller dogs. To help minimize the risk of adverse reactions, your veterinarian may suggest administering the Bordetella vaccine to your dog separately from any other vaccinations they require over several days.

To learn more about the vaccination and preventative healthcare services Diablo View Veterinary Medical Hospital offers for your dog, contact our Pleasant Hill vets today to book a consultation. 

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Diablo View Veterinary Medical Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians are passionate about the health of Pleasant Hill companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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