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Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

The benefits of vaccinating your dog nearly always outweigh any risk of reactions that your dog may have to those vaccines. For illness like Bordetella in dogs, there are some reactions that may be expected for your dog to have. Here, our Groton veterinarians provide some guidance on the common reactions to the Bordetella vaccine as well as what to do if you notice a serious reaction.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

Your may recognize Bordetella - better known as kennel cough - as a commonly transmitted upper respiratory infection in dogs. Likely, if you've ever brought your dog to a daycare, a boarding facility, or a group training session for your pup, you should have heard the question "is your dog vaccinated against Kennel Cough?" Diseases like Bordetella, rabies and parvovirus can cause serious symptoms and may even be fatal in dogs. 

Vaccines like the Bordetella vaccination help to prevent these disease from ever developing in your dog in the first place and preserving their health and well-being.

How and when is the Bordetella vaccine administered?

This vaccination comes in two forms, an intranasal spray that your vet will administer in to 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 reactions to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs?

As with any vaccine, mild adverse reactions are not only possible, but to be expected. While it may be a bit upsetting to see your pet have a reaction to a vaccine, it's important to remember that these reactions ar generally quite mild and short-lived. Knowing what to keep an eye out for in terms of your pet's vaccine reactions and what to do if your dog starts showing more serious symptoms can help to remove some of the stress from the Bordetella vaccination.


The most common reaction a dog will have to receiving 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. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last one or two days. If your dog isn't back to their normal levels of energy after a couple of days, contact your vet.

Lumps & Bumps

If your dog received the Bordetella vaccine in its injectable form, bumps and lumps may occur around the injection site. A small but firm bump may appear in addition to some tenderness and stiffness in the area. These bumps are the result of your dog's immune system rushing in to fight the irritation it detects at your dog's injection site.

That said, any time that the skin is punctured there is a chance of infection. Be sure to keep an eye on the site where the injection was given. Look for signs of swelling, redness, discharge and pain. If left untreated, infected areas may lead to more serious conditions. If you notice the area becoming increasingly red or showing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

This reaction can be quite commonly found in dogs who have recently received their Bordetella vaccination as a nasal spray. This reaction encompasses a number of symptoms that can appear much like a cold, including coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. Most dogs will be able to recover from these symptoms quite quickly. However, if your dog is still showing symptoms within a couple of days or they seem to be getting rose, it's time for you to book an appointment with your vet.

Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

Most reactions commonly associated with vaccinations are mild and short-term. In some cases, more severe reactions may rise and when they do, they will require immediate medical attention from your veterinarian.

The most common of these exceedingly rare reactions is anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that can be characterized by swelling in the face, hives, vomiting, issues breathing, diarrhea and itchiness in your dog. This reaction typically occurs within a few minutes or hours of your dog receiving a vaccine but may take up to 48 hours to appear. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis after receiving the Bordetella vaccine, contact your emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.

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

Vaccines help to protect your pup's long-term health and well-being, preventing diseases from ever arising in the first place. And the risk of your canine companion having a serious adverse reaction to vaccination is quite low. 

With all of that being said, if your dog has previously had a reaction to a vaccine, be that for bordetella or for a different disease altogether, always get in touch with your vet ahead of time and let them know. If your veterinarian is properly informed, they may advise that you skip certain vaccines, especially when it comes to often-options vaccines like Bordetella.

The risk of reactions to vaccinations increases somewhat when multiple vaccinations are given at one time. This can be particularly true in smaller dogs. To help reduce the risk of reactions, your vet may suggest getting your dog's Bordetella vaccine separated out from any other vaccinations they need over the course of several days.

Are you interested in learning more about vaccinations and preventative healthcare services? Contact Companion Animal Hospital today and book a consultation to find out what vaccinations are best for your dog.

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