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Can a dog have a reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?

Routine vaccinations are among the most common and useful ways to protect our pets and keep them safe, especially if they enjoy socializing. Here, our Arlington vets discuss Bordetella vaccinations and what happens if your dog has a reaction to the vaccine.

The Bordetella Vaccine

If your dog frequently visits social environments such as doggie daycare, groomers or the dog park, you should consider protecting them from contracting kennel cough with the Bordetella vaccine. This vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of your dog developing this serious and contagious disease. So, A mild to moderate case may last six to ten days, but when not treated promptly, the condition can quickly become life-threatening.

If your dog is less social but you would like to discuss whether this vaccination would still benefit them, please contact our Arlington vets for a consultation.

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

Why is the Bordetella vaccine important?

The Bordetella shot for dogs is not a mandatory vaccine provided with the standard set of shots; it is an optional vaccination you can choose to give your dog for added protection. Even though it is not a core vaccination, many doggy daycares, dog parks, or obedience classes will require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough to participate. 

Simple respiratory infections can easily evolve into dangerous and life-threatening conditions, so to protect your dog and the dogs with whom they frequently socialize, it's recommended that you give your dog the Bordetella vaccine if they may ever be in a social setting.

If you intend to enroll your dog in any 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 Bordetella vaccine will help reduce the risk of your dog developing life-threatening complications due to this respiratory disease.

How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot?

Your veterinarian may recommend bringing your dog in for the Bordetella vaccine every six to twelve months based on your pet's risk of exposure to Bordetella. 

This vaccination comes in two forms: an intranasal spray your vet will administer in your dog's nose and an injection. Both are comparably effective. The injectable Bordetella vaccine isn't suitable for dogs younger than eight weeks, but the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as six weeks old.  

Bordetella Vaccine For Dogs: Side Effects

Can a dog have a reaction to the Bordetella vaccine? Just like vaccinations in people, mild adverse reactions are not only possible but are expected due to vaccination. The side effects of dog vaccinations, such as Bordetella vaccines, are generally mild and short-lived, so while seeing your dog suffering from side effects can be stressful, it's important to remember that they are healthier and safer for them.

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

  • Lethargy & Discomfort
    • The most common reaction a dog may have to receiving the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of malaise, lethargy, or discomfort, often accompanied by a mild fever. This reaction arises as a side effect of the dog's immune system working to respond to the vaccine appropriately. These symptoms are quite normal and should only last one or two days. 
  • Bumps or Lumps on the Skin
    • 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 the skin is punctured, there is a possibility of infection. Be sure to monitor 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. 
  • Symptoms Resembling a Cold
    • If your dog received their Bordetella vaccine as a nasal spray, it is common and ordinary for cold symptoms to present themselves. Adverse reactions to nasal spray Bordetella vaccination include coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two.

What should you do if your dog begins coughing after the Bordetella vaccine?

Reactions to the vaccine are generally mild and short-lived. If your dog demonstrates any of the above symptoms, including a persistent cough, for over a day or two, you should contact your vet for additional medical care. In rare extreme cases, a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine may require medical intervention.

Can dogs have an allergic reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?

In extremely rare cases, dogs can have an anaphylactic response to vaccination. This is a severe allergic reaction characterized by facial swelling, hives, vomiting, breathing issues, diarrhea, and itchiness in your dog. This reaction typically occurs within a few minutes or hours of your dog receiving the vaccine, but it can occur as late as forty-eight hours following vaccination. 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.

If your dog requires the Bordetella vaccine or any other vaccination and you have more questions, contact our Arlington vets today to book a consultation.

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