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Can a dog have a reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?

If your dog spends time with other pups, such as in a kennel, at the groomer, or at an off-leash park, your vet will most likely recommend the Bordetella vaccine. While the Bordetella vaccination for dogs is considered safe, typically only causing very mild side effects, in rare cases more serious reactions can occur. Today, our Los Angeles vets explain.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Bordetella?

Dogs who frequently spend time with other dogs face an increased risk of catching Bordetella (often called kennel cough) from their doggy daycare center or from a visit to the local dog park and should be vaccinated against Bordetella to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

If your dog does not spend time around other dogs and is groomed or bathed at home, you should consult your veterinarian to learn more about the shot and see if the Bordetella vaccine is right for them.

It's important for pet parents to be aware that while the benefits of getting the Bordetella vaccine greatly outweigh the risks, there are some potential side effects from vaccination. These are typically mild but you should monitor your dog after every vaccination to ensure no serious complications arise. 

Which dogs benefit from getting the Bordetella vaccination?

While the Bordetella vaccine is an optional 'lifestyle' vaccination, rather than a core vaccination, many doggy daycares, boarding services, or training classes will require your pup to be vaccinated against kennel cough to take part. 

In some dogs, a mild respiratory infection can easily progress to become a serious life-threatening condition. To help protect your dog and the dogs that socialize with your pup, our vets recommend adding the Bordetella shot to your pet's preventative 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 effective in decreasing 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 vet 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 forms, an intranasal spray that 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 8 weeks, but the nasal spray version can be administered to dogs as young as 6 weeks old.  

Can a dog have a reaction to the Bordetella vaccine?  How long do side effects last?

A dog's reactions to vaccination are generally mild and short-lived, so while it can be stressful to see your dog suffering through side effects, it's important to remember that they are healthier and safer for it.

Here are a few of the most common side effects your dog could experience from the Bordetella vaccination:

  • Lethargy
    • The most common reaction a dog will have to receive the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of tiredness, lethargy, or discomfort, often accompanied by a very 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. Allow your dog to rest and don't push them to do any physical activity they don't seem up to. 
  • 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 as a nasal spray, then it is common and ordinary for symptoms of a cold 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 I do if my dog is coughing after receiving the Bordetella vaccine?

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

Are there severe allergic reactions to the Bordetella dog vaccine?

In extremely rare cases dogs can have an anaphylactic response to vaccination. This severe allergic reaction in dogs is characterized by swelling in the face, hives, vomiting, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, and itchiness. This type of reaction will usually occur 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, bring your dog to the nearest emergency clinic right away. 

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.

Is your dog having an adverse reaction to the bordetella vaccine? Contact our Los Angeles vets right away.

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