Why Your Pet May Need the Bordetella Vaccine

Four minutes
Apr 13, 2023

The bordetella vaccine is a non-core vaccine for both dogs and cats. This means it’s not required, but it’s highly encouraged. Vaccines can protect your pet from a host of nasty diseases. But given how costly veterinary care is, you may be wondering whether it’s worth investing in the bordetella vaccine if it's optional. Read on to learn more about the bordetella vaccine and if it’s right for your pet.

What Is the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine is a vaccination that protects your pet from the bacteria that can cause bordetella bronchiseptica (bordetella) — a highly contagious respiratory infection. Bordetella is one of the most common causes of kennel cough, but there are a few other bacteria that can be to blame.

While the bordetella vaccine is most common for dogs, cats can also receive a feline form of the vaccine. Typically, it’s only recommended if you have a highly social cat who spends time around other animals or if there’s a known infection going around.

Ways your vet can administer the bordetella vaccine

Although we typically think of vaccinations in the form of an injection, the bordetella vaccine comes in two different options for your pet.1 They include:

  • An intranasal mist that’s sprayed into your pet’s nose
  • An injection directly into the bloodstream

While both are effective ways to administer the vaccine, the injection isn’t recommended for puppies younger than 8 weeks old. The intranasal mist can be administered to puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Be sure to chat with your vet as you decide which vaccine is best for your pet.

Bordetella Vaccine Side Effects

Regardless of which vaccine option you choose, your pet may experience side effects. Common bordetella vaccine side effects can include:2

  • Lethargy
  • Discomfort
  • Mild fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Some pets who receive injections may also develop lumps and bumps at the injection site, but these tend to go away on their own. Pet parents should keep in mind that serious vaccine complications are rare, especially in healthy animals. However, serious vaccine complications may occur in sick or immunocompromised pets, so it’s important to monitor your pet after any vaccination if they fall into these categories.3

How Often Do Dogs Get the Bordetella Vaccine?

How often your pet needs a bordetella vaccine depends on your dog’s age and lifestyle. Based on the recommended vaccine schedule for puppies and for cats, your pet can receive a dose of the vaccine when they are 6 – 8 weeks old. Pet parents with young and adult pets will be offered an annual or semi-annual booster.

It’s important to note that most boarding facilities and doggy daycares will require your pet to have received the bordetella vaccine within the last 6 months to use their services.4

How long does the bordetella vaccine last?

Pets who get the bordetella vaccine can get boosted annually after their first dose, but they may receive the booster more often if they’re at high risk of contracting bordetella or kennel cough. While your pet’s bordetella vaccine status is usually maintained on an annual basis, some vets recommend highly social dogs get the booster every 6 months for maximum efficacy.5

Pets That May Want to Consider the Bordetella Vaccine

Since bordetella is an optional vaccine, you may be wondering if your pet should get it. Here are a few examples of when it may be a good idea for certain pets to get the vaccine.

Highly social dogs and cats

While it’s often not a fatal condition and is comparable to the human cold, kennel cough is a highly contagious disease. Dogs and cats can spread bordetella simply by sniffing, touching, or licking one another. If your pet spends a significant amount of time around other animals, you may want to boost their immunity by getting the bordetella vaccine.

Pets in multi-pet households

In a similar vein, pet parents with multiple animals may want to immunize all their pets. Your dogs and cats probably share blankets, toys, and water bowls. Bordetella and other microorganisms can live on these types of surfaces in your home. So if one pet is sick, it can easily spread to your other pets.

Young and senior pets

Puppies, kittens, and senior pets are very susceptible to infections like bordetella. Young animals’ immune systems often aren’t developed enough to fight off the bacteria. On the other hand, senior dogs and cats may have pre-existing conditions that make any sort of infection a risk to their overall health. Consider asking your vet if the bordetella vaccine is the right choice.

Pets who visit daycares, groomers, dog parks, or training facilities

Bordetella can spread most commonly in dog boarding facilities. The good news is boarding facilities and doggy daycares often require pets to be vaccinated against bordetella to use their services. Dog parks, groomers, and training facilities may not have the same requirements, so you may want to err on the side of caution and vaccinate your pet to protect them.

Vaccine Costs Can Add Up, but MetLife Pet Can Help!

The bordetella vaccination cost can be around $15 – $40 per shot. It’ll depend on your vet, where you live, and the dosage required, but it will likely be less than $100. If your pet’s lifestyle may put them at risk for contracting bordetella or kennel cough, have a discussion with your vet about your options. The price may be worth it to protect your four-legged friend.

Consider getting a free quote for dog insurance or cat insurance from MetLife Pet, so you can save on covered and approved veterinary expenses. Plus, with our add-on Wellness Plan, you may be able to get vaccination costs covered.6

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

1 “Importance of the Bordetella Pet Vaccination in Cats & Dogs,” Hope Crossing Animal Hospital

2 “Can A Dog Have A Reaction To The Bordetella Vaccine?,” West Chester Veterinary Medical Center

3 “Post Vaccination Adverse Events and Reactions,” American Animal Hospital Association

4 “5 Facts About the Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs,” American Kennel Club

5 “How Frequently Does A Dog Need A Bordetella Vaccine?,” Cornerstone Vet

6 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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