Bordetella Vaccine Costs and Benefits According to a Veterinarian

Four minutes
Nov 13, 2023

If your dog or cat has come down with a dry cough and other flu-like symptoms, they may have a bacterial infection called bordetella. The good news is that a bordetella vaccine is available to help protect your pets. Read on to learn more about what bordetella is, how the bordetella vaccine works, and how it can protect your pet.

What Is Bordetella?

Bordetella bronchiseptica (bordetella) is a fairly common bacterial infection that can cause inflammation of your cat or dog’s upper respiratory system. This inflammation can appear in your pet with symptoms like:1

  • A loud honking cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Mild or low-grade fever

Bordetella can be fairly contagious, but it’s usually also treatable. Your vet may recommend rest, cough medicine, and antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection. Your vet may also recommend more aggressive treatment if you have a puppy or kitten, an older pet, or an immunocompromised pet.1

It’s important to treat bordetella as quickly as possible because if your pet’s immune system is weakened from fighting off the infection, it can lead to secondary infections or more severe illnesses like pneumonia.1

Vet giving injection to red cat

Bordetella vs. kennel cough

You may hear bordetella being used synonymously with kennel cough, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a broader term that can be used to describe a wide range of highly contagious upper respiratory illnesses. Kennel cough can include bordetella, but it can also include viral infections like distemper and influenza.1

How Does the Bordetella Vaccine Protect My Pet?

Like most vaccines, the bordetella vaccine protects against the bacteria that causes the affliction by introducing your pet to a small dose of nonpathogenic bordetella bacteria. By exposing your pet’s immune system to this bacteria, it allows them to develop the antibodies they need to fight off an infection in the future.

Even if your dog or cat is exposed to bordetella and gets sick, being vaccinated may help reduce the severity of the symptoms so your dog or cat can get well sooner.

When Does My Dog or Cat Need the Bordetella Vaccine?

Bordetella is a noncore vaccine, meaning it isn’t considered necessary for all pets. However, the bordetella vaccine is highly recommended by vets for pets who spend a lot of time around other pets, particularly in places like:2

  • Doggy daycare centers
  • Boarding kennels
  • Dog or cat shows
  • Dog parks
  • Training and obedience classes
  • Pet grooming facilities

If you plan to keep your pet at a daycare center or boarding kennel, or if your pet attends dog or cat shows, you may be required to show proof of bordetella vaccination. Some boarding facilities may even require vaccination or a booster within the last 6 months.1

Is the Bordetella Vaccine Safe for My Dog or Cat?

The bordetella vaccine is usually very safe and can be administered after your puppy or kitten has turned 6 weeks old. After that, an annual or semi-annual booster is recommended.

While your pet may experience some side effects like a low-grade fever or flu-like symptoms after the vaccine is administered, this is usually temporary and your pet will likely return to normal quickly.3

However, your vet may advise against the vaccine if your pet is immunocompromised, pregnant, sick, or has a history of adverse vaccine reactions.1

How Much Does the Bordetella Vaccine Cost?

The bordetella vaccine is relatively inexpensive, costing between $15 – $40 per year. The cost to treat bordetella can be expensive, and include X-rays, antibiotics, and other over-the-counter medicines. This could make the cost of the bordetella vaccine worth it for you.

Consider Pet Insurance

A dog insurance or cat insurance policy from MetLife Pet may help cover portions vet bills if your pet gets sick with bordetella.4 And if you’re looking to offset the cost of the bordetella vaccine, our add-on Wellness Plan can help cover the costs of both initial vaccinations and annual boosters for bordetella and other conditions.4,5

To learn more about how pet insurance can help protect your pet care budget, get a free quote today.

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Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

1 “5 Facts About the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs,” American Kennel Club

2 “The Bordetella Vaccine: Side Effects, Cost, Tips and, More,”

3 “Vaccinations," American Veterinary Medical Association

4 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

5 Available at an additional cost.

Coverage underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 or Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations. Application is subject to underwriting review. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC for details. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator for this coverage. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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