Diseases, Pet Care Basics, Shelter and Rescue Resources, Vaccines

Kennel Cough Vaccine – Injectable or Intranasal?

It is very important for dogs being boarded, groomed or going to dog parks and doggie daycares to be vaccinated for Kennel Cough on a regular basis. Kennel Cough is a respiratory disease caused by a bacteria and possibly some viruses. It is spread by aerosol when dogs are in close contact, so it is inevitably a problem in kennels and other groups of dogs. It is not usually a life-threatening disease, but it can cause a very irritating, loud, hacking cough. Rarely, Kennel Cough can lead to a much more serious pneumonia.

There are three types of Kennel Cough vaccines: injectable, oral and intranasal. All three provide protection against Kennel Cough, but they work in different ways.

Injectable Kennel Cough Vaccine

The injectable Kennel Cough vaccine is given under the skin with a needle and syringe. This causes an immune response and the production of antibodies, which circulate in the blood and are ready to attack if an infection occurs.

Kennel Cough Intranasal Vaccine

Another type of Kennel Cough vaccine is an intranasal vaccine. It is dripped or squirted into the nose. While this might seem like an odd way to give a vaccine, it is actually very effective. Dogs get Kennel Cough by breathing in the bacteria/virus. This vaccine causes the production of antibodies in the respiratory tract, where they can be ready to attack the germs before they enter the body. There is a small population of English Bulldogs who do not respond well to the intranasal vaccines for Bordetella.

Oral Kennel Cough Vaccine

Similar to the way the intranasal vaccines work, the oral kennel cough vaccine also creates local immunity. However, only Bordetella and Adenovirus can be included in this vaccine. Parainfluenza, the 3rd causative agent we can vaccinate against for kennel cough, is ineffective given orally.

Which Kennel Cough Vaccine is Best?

Studies show that all three vaccines work. The intranasal works quicker, and you don’t have to stick a needle into your dog. It makes sense to attack the bacteria and viruses where they enter the body. It is also beneficial to use the injectable if there is enough time before boarding, and especially for those dogs that would rather bite your fingers off than get vaccinated.

Whichever vaccine you choose, be very careful to fully read the instructions provided with it. An injectable vaccine will not work if squirted up the nose, and an intranasal vaccine may cause an abscess or other serious adverse event if injected! To prevent accidental injection of the intranasal or intramural products, consider using the ADT delivery system or other method to prevent confusion when handling multiple products at the same time.

The bottom line is, no matter what vaccine you prefer to use, make sure your dog is protected against Kennel Cough on a regular basis.

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Article originally written by Richard Edling, DVM, MBA.


    • The Canadian Veterinary Journal. “Comparative efficacy of intranasal and injectable vaccines in stimulating Bordetella bronchiseptica-reactive anamnestic antibody responses in household dogs” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 21 March 2022.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.