The risk of a dog having a reaction to their vaccine is relatively low, but there are some factors that can contribute to the likeliness. Here, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital share everything an owner should know about vaccine reactions in dogs.
Why Your Dogs Should Get Their Shots
Most veterinarians agree that vaccinations are important for all dogs, but there are some situations where certain vaccines are not necessary for your pet.
Which shots your dog should have depends upon where you live, your dog's age, and your pup's lifestyle. These factors combine to determine your dog's risk of contracting diseases that can be vaccinated against. Your vet can help you determine which immunizations are right for your pet.
Common Mild Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs
Any medical administration can result in a reaction, but it is important to know how to distinguish a common, likely harmless symptom from a concerning one.
Here are some common symptoms after your dog receives a vaccine:
- Lethargy - Sluggishness, mild discomfort, and just not feeling like their normal self, are the most common reactions dogs have to get their shots. Sometimes this is also accompanied by a mild fever caused by your dog's immune system responding to the vaccination. These mild symptoms are perfectly normal and should only last a day or two. If your dog isn’t back to normal within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian to let them know.
- Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms - While the majority of vaccines are administered by injection, the parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica virus vaccines are given in the form of nasal sprays or drops. Reactions to these vaccines tend to look like basic cold symptoms and may include sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Expect your pup to recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If these symptoms become more severe or it’s taking your pup longer to recover, contact your vet for advice.
Serious Reactions to Vaccinations
As mentioned above, most reactions dogs have to vaccines will be mild and short-lived, in some rare cases pets can have more severe reactions that require immediate medical attention.
- Anaphylaxis - This severe allergic reaction can involve symptoms including facial swelling, diarrhea, itchiness, hives, vomiting and breathing difficulties. This type of severe reaction will usually occur very soon after your dog receives their injection, (typically while you are still at the vet's office), but can happen up to 48 hours after the vaccine is given.
- Shock - Symptoms of shock following vaccines can include a slow heart rate, decreased blood pressure and generalized weakness. You may also see a gray tongue and pale mucous membranes.
If your dog displays signs of anaphylaxis or shock, call your vet immediately or contact the emergency veterinary clinic closest to you!
Treatment For Vaccine Reactions in Dogs
Fortunately, adverse reactions resulting from vaccinations can often be reversed with proper treatment, and your dog should recover very quickly.
- If your dog's reaction is not life-threatening and confined to the skin, treatment is likely to include cortisone and/or antihistamines. Symptoms will usually clear up quickly once treatments begin.
- Serious reactions such as anaphylaxis and shock require immediate veterinary care! Medications and intravenous fluids will be provided to help your dog recover and restore your pet's vital signs. Epinephrine and/or cortisone may also be used in these cases.
Preventing Reactions to Vaccines
Keeping your dog's shots up to date helps to protect your pet’s long-term health, and it's important to remember that the risk of having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low for most dogs.
That said, if your dog has experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine in the past it’s important to inform your vet so this history can be recorded in your pet's medical files. If a previous reaction has occurred your vet may recommend skipping a specific vaccination in the future.
Should I have my dog revaccinated?
Knowing your dog's risk of having a reaction again if revaccinated is difficult to predict. Some dogs will have no reaction when they have the vaccination a second time, some dogs will experience the same reaction that they had previously, and in rare cases, dogs will experience a serious life-threatening reaction to a vaccine that they have previously had.
If your dog has had a reaction to their first round of shots, speak to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of vaccines and your dog's health. Your vet may recommend not vaccinating your pup for particular diseases based on your pet's previous reaction.
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.