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Can a Dog Have a Reaction to the Bordetella Vaccine?

The Bordetella vaccine is essential for preventing kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. While generally safe, like all vaccinations, the Bordetella vaccine can cause side effects in some dogs. Understanding these side effects, how long they may last, and when to seek veterinary care can help you ensure your dog's health and comfort.

Bordetella Vaccine for Dogs

The Bordetella vaccine dog owners use comes in two forms: injectable and intranasal. Both aim to protect dogs from the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium, a primary cause of kennel cough. It is especially recommended for dogs that frequent boarding facilities, dog parks, or grooming salons. But can a dog react to the Bordetella vaccine? The answer is yes, though reactions are typically mild and short-lived.

Why is the Bordetella Vaccine Important For Dogs?

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

Simple respiratory infections can easily develop into dangerous and life-threatening conditions. Therefore, it is recommended that you have your dog vaccinated with the Bordetella vaccine to protect them and the dogs they socialize with. If you plan to enroll your dog in any program outside the home or make them a regular at your local dog park, it's important to ask your vet about the Bordetella shot for your dog.

The vaccine significantly reduces the chance of Bordetella in dogs. While not 100% effective in preventing infection, the Bordetella vaccine helps reduce the risk of your dog developing life-threatening complications due to this respiratory disease.

What Potential Side Effects of the Bordetella Vaccine Might Your Dog Experience?

Just like vaccinations in people, mild adverse reactions are not only possible but are expected due to vaccination. Reactions 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 it.

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
    • A dog's most common reaction to receiving the Bordetella vaccine is a feeling of malaise, 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. 
  • 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 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. 
  • Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms
    • 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.

How long does Bordetella last in dogs?

The Bordetella vaccine's effectiveness typically lasts about six months to a year. Therefore, how often does a dog need a Bordetella shot? Veterinarians generally recommend administering the vaccine every six to twelve months, depending on the dog's risk of exposure.

What should be done if your dog begins coughing after being vaccinated?

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

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