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Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

Here, our Oakland vets discuss the possible side-effects of dog vaccinations for Bordetella and answer other questions dog owners have around optional shots for dogs.

Dogs who live social lives are at an increased rate of catching Bordetella (also called kennel cough), from their doggy daycare centers or from a visit to the local dog park and should be vaccinated against bordetella to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

For dogs who stay inside, pet owners should consult their veterinarian to learn more about the shot and see if the Bordetella vaccine is right for them.

While the shot's benefits greatly outweigh the risks, there are some side effects that can be alarming to unprepared dog owners. 

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

While the Bordetella vaccine is sometimes considered optional, rather than a core vaccination, many doggy daycares, dog parks, or obedience classes will require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough to take part. 

Respiratory infections can easily turn into life-threatening and dangerous conditions. So, in order to protect your dog and the dogs they frequently interact with, you should add the Bordetella shot to their preventive care plan. 

If you intend to enroll your dog in any kind of program outside the home or to be a regular at your local dog park, you should ask your vet about the Bordetella shot for your dog.

The vaccine greatly reduces the chance of Bordetella in dogs. Furthermore, while not 100% effective in preventing infection, the vaccine is guaranteed to decrease the likelihood of serious symptoms or life-threatening complications should a dog vaccinated against Bordetella contract an infection. 

How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot?

Your veterinarian will recommend a Bordetella booster shot every six-to-twelve months based on your pet's risk of exposure to Bordetella. 

This vaccination comes in two different forms: an intranasal spray that is administered through your dog's nose, and an injection. Both are comparably effective at preventing this illness. The injectable Bordetella vaccination isn't suitable for dogs younger than 8 weeks old, but the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs who are as young as 6 weeks old.

What are the side effects of dog vaccinations against Bordetella?  How long do side effects last?

Just like vaccinations administered to people, mild adverse conditions aren't only possible but to be expected when getting vaccinated. Reactions are generally mild and short-lived. So, while it can be stressful to see your dog suffering through side effects, it's important that you remember your pup will be healthier for it.

Being prepared to care for your pup post-vaccine will make the process less stressful for both you and your dog. Below is a list of the most common side effects dogs can experience from the Bordetella vaccination.

  • Lethargy
    • The most common reaction to the Bordetella vaccine in dogs is a feeling of malaise, discomfort or lethargy often accompanies by a mild fever. This reaction arises as a side-effect of your dog's immune system working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last one or two days.
  • Lumps & Bumps
    • If your dog receives the injectable form of the Bordetella vaccine, lumps and bumps can occur around the injection site. A small, firm bump may develop, as well as some tenderness and stiffness in the area. Most likely these bumps are just the result of skin irritation, however, any time that the skin is punctured there is a possibility 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. 
  • Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms
    • If your dog received their Bordetella vaccine in the nasal spray form, then this side-effect is common and will often show like the symptoms of a cold. Adverse reactions to to nasal spray Bordetella vaccinations include sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two.

What should I do if my dog is coughing after receiving the Bordetella vaccine?

As a general rule, reactions to the vaccine are short-lived and mild. If your dog is showing any of the symptoms above, including a persistent cough for more than a day or two, you would contact your vet in order to seek additional medical care. In rare extreme cases, serious adverse reactions to the vaccine may require medical intervention.

Are there allergic reactions to the Bordetella dog vaccine?

In very rare cases, dogs may have an anaphylactic response to vaccinations. This is a very serious allergic reaction characterized by swelling in the face, vomiting, hives, issues with breathing, diarrhea and itchiness in your dog. This reaction will generally occur within a few minutes or hours of your dog receiving their vaccine. It's possible that it can occur as last as 48-hours following your dog's vaccination though.

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis after receiving the Bordetella vaccine, contact your emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to learn more about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for dogs? Contact East Bay Veterinary Clinic today to book a consultation.

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