Canine Bordetella Side Effects

Kennel cough can spread among boarded dogs.
i dogs image by lena Letuchaia from

If you need to board your pooch, don't be surprised if the boarding kennel requires proof of a bordetella vaccination. Infectious bacteria and viruses can spread through the air, causing a dry, honking cough in dogs called kennel cough. The vaccination helps to protect your dog, with some risk of side effects.

The Vaccine

The bordetella vaccine helps protect your dog against infections caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacterium is one cause of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or ITB. You may know it as kennel cough. The bacterium passes from dog to dog through the air or through contact with objects that have been contaminated by infected dogs. The manufacturer, Pfizer, makes the vaccine from a form of the bacteria. Its purpose is to help the dog's immune system recognize infection and fight it. It may not be 100 percent effective if the dog is stressed or ill at the time of vaccination, Pfizer notes.

Common Side Effects

Side effects from the bordetella vaccine resemble side effects in any other vaccine for your dog. A low-grade fever may occur in your pup. He will seem warm to the touch and may act tired and lose interest in his food. These side effects are "a natural response to the vaccine's effect on the immune system," Pfizer notes in a booklet aimed at dog owners. The side effects occur within a day of the vaccine and last for one to two days. If your dog has these symptoms, keep watch over him and make sure he is drinking water.

Rare Side Effects

Rare side effects include an allergic reaction to the vaccine. The reaction can happen within minutes or hours of the vaccination and could include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and possible collapse. The face or body can swell, and hives may develop. The dog may crawl into a corner and hide. He may not want to move even with gentle coaxing. Call the vet if your dog experiences these side effects. The vet can treat the symptoms.


Some dogs should not be vaccinated. Puppies less than 8 weeks old shouldn’t receive the vaccination. Dogs that are pregnant, nursing or intended for breeding should not be vaccinated. Dogs that have been sick recently or have medical issues and known allergies shouldn’t receive the vaccination. If your dog has been around sick dogs recently, do not have him vaccinated. And if your dog has had a reaction in the past to the vaccine or other vaccines, avoid giving him the bordetella vaccine.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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