Common Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs

Vaccines are the best way to help protect your pet against a number of serious conditions. That said, some dogs do react to getting their shots. In today's post our Waxhaw vets share some of the most common reactions to vaccines in dogs, and what to do if your dog has a reaction to their vaccinations.


Why should I get my dog vaccinated?

Having your dog is vaccinated early in life, and regularly as an adult, provides them with their best chance at a long, healthy life. 

Parvovirus, rabies, and hepatitis can all be very serious and even fatal, particularly in young animals. Vaccines can help to protect your pup against these diseases and more. 

At Providence South Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, NC our vets believe that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks of a reaction, and when it comes to your pet's health, prevention is better than treatment!

Reactions to vaccines, Providence Animal Hospital, Waxhaw Vets

Does my dog need all the available vaccines?

When recommending which vaccinations are right for your pet, your veterinarian will take a number of factors into consideration including your dog's breed, age and lifestyle. All of these factors can influence your dog's risk of contracting the diseases which the various vaccinations protect against. Once your vet has assessed your pup's level of risk they will be happy to recommend which shots are best for your canine companion.

What are the most common reactions to vaccines in dogs?

With any medical procedure, adverse reactions are always a possibility. Your dog's vaccinations are no different. Seeing your pet have a reaction to a vaccine can be upsetting but it's important for pet parents to keep in mind that most reactions are mild and short-lived. Being able to spot the signs of a reaction, and knowing what you should do if your dog has a reaction, can help to make vaccination time less stressful for both you and your pup.  

Lethargy or 'The Blahs'

The most common reaction dogs have to getting their shots is a general feeling of lethargy and mild discomfort which is sometimes accompanied by a slight fever. People typically describe this feeling as being 'off' or just not feeling like themselves. This reaction is your dog's immune system working as it should and responding to the vaccine appropriately. Lethargy and mild fever are normal reactions to vaccinations in dogs and should only last a day or two. If your pooch isn't back to normal within a day or two, contact your vet for advice.

Lumps & Bumps

As well as feeling a little lethargic, lumps and bumps can also be a reaction to vaccinations in pets. It is very common for a small, firm bump to develop at the spot where the needle was injected into the skin or muscle. In many cases this area may be somewhat tender. Bumps develop due to your dog's immune system working hard to resolve the localized irritation at the injection site. This is a normal reaction, but it's a good idea to keep an eye on the area and watch for signs of inflammation or infection. If the lump doesn't clear-up after about a week, contact your veterinarian.

Cold Like Symptoms

Although the majority of vaccines are given by injection, the Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus vaccines are administered by nasal drops or sprays. If your dog experiences a reaction to these vaccines their symptoms will likely look like a cold, and include coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. Dogs generally recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If your pooch begins showing more severe symptoms, or does not recover within a couple of days, it's time to call your veterinarian.

More Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

Although most reactions associated with vaccines are short-lived and mild, in a few rare cases, more severe reactions can occur and require immediate medical attention. 

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can occur in pets and is characterized by facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. Anaphylaxis typically occurs very soon after the vaccine has been administered but can occur up to 48 hours after your dog has received their shots. If your pup shows any of the symptoms listed above, call your vet immediately or contact your emergency veterinary clinic.

How can I prevent my dog from having a reaction to vaccines? 

Vaccinations help to protect the long term health of your pet, and the risk of your dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. Nonetheless, if your dog has had a previous reaction to a vaccine, it is important to let your veterinarian know before going ahead with another round of vaccinations. Depending on the severity of your pet's reaction, and the vaccine in question, your vet may advise you to skip a particular vaccination in future.

The risk of reactions to vaccinations increases somewhat when multiple shots are given during single visit, particularly in smaller dogs. In order to help reduce the risk of reactions, your vet may suggest getting your dog's shots over the course of several days rather than all at once.

If you'd like to learn more about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for your dog or cat, contact our Waxhaw vets today to book an appointment for your pet. 

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