Vaccinations and preventive care are designed to help protect your pet against serious illnesses and diseases, some of which are highly contagious. Here, our La Mesa vets discuss Bordetella vaccinations, how often they are needed and what happens if your dog has a reaction to the vaccine.

How Bordetella Protects Your Dog

If you often bring your dog to places like the groomer or dog park, you should consider protecting them from contracting kennel cough with the Bordetella vaccine. This vaccine reduces your dog's risk of developing this serious and contagious disease. A mild to moderate case may last six to ten days, but the condition can quickly become life-threatening when not treated promptly.

If you don't bring your dog out to socialize often but are still considering this vaccine, please contact our La Mesa vets. While the shot's benefits greatly outweigh the risks, some side effects can be alarming to unprepared dog owners. 

Why is the Bordetella vaccine so important?

Unlike other shots like the rabies vaccine, the Bordetella vaccine is optional. This means you can choose to give it to 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 will my dog need to return for the Bordetella vaccination?

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. 

The Bordetella vaccine is available as an intranasal spray your vet will administer in your dog's nose and as an injection. Both of these options are equally as 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.  

What are the potential side-effects of the Bordetella vaccine?

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. These are not necessarily serious allergic reactions but more like mild side effects. 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.

Below is a list of the most common side effects dogs can experience from the Bordetella vaccination.

  • Fever & Lethargy
    • After your dog receives the Bordetella vaccine, they may experience 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 on Your Dog's 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. 
  • Coughing, Sneezing & Other 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.

When is veterinary care needed for a vaccine reaction?

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 you would like to schedule your dog (or cat) in for pet vaccinations in La Mesa, please contact our vets.