VB-groupoids can be thought of as vector bundle objects in the category of Lie groupoids. Just as Lie algebroids are the infinitesimal counterparts of Lie groupoids, VB-algebroids correspond to the infinitesimal version of VB-groupoids. In this work we address the problem of the existence of a VB-groupoid admitting a given VB-algebroid as its infinitesimal data. Our main result is an explicit characterization of the obstructions appearing in this integrability problem as the vanishing of the spherical periods of certain cohomology classes. Along the way, we illustrate our result in concrete examples. Finally, as a corollary, we obtain computable obstructions for a $2$-term representation up to homotopy of Lie algebroid to arise as the infinitesimal counterpart of a smooth such representation of a Lie groupoid.