Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

All veterinary procedures, including pet vaccinations, are risky. The benefits of vaccinating your dog outweigh the very small risk the majority of the time. In this post, our Edgewater veterinarians discuss the potential side effects of vaccines and what you should do if your pet experiences one.

Should I Vaccinate My Pet?

Vaccinations are an important part of protecting your pet from serious and contagious diseases which could threaten the long-term health and well-being of your furry companion. In most situations, the benefits of giving your dog or cat vaccinations greatly outweigh the risk of your pet experiencing any side effects. Although, once in a while, some pets do have side effects. But note that some are completely normal, such as your puppy yelping right after vaccination.

How many pets have serious side effects to vaccines?

Veterinary procedures, including vaccinations, are always risky. A vaccine, on the other hand, has a very low risk of causing serious side effects in your pet. It can be frightening for pet owners whose adorable animal companion is affected.

An estimated 13 out of 10,000 dogs will react.

What kinds of side effects can dogs get from vaccinations?

The majority of vaccine side effects in dogs are brief and mild, making them far less dangerous than the illnesses that vaccinations protect them from. Some of the most common side effects that pets experience after being vaccinated are as follows:

Lethargy & Slight Fever

  • Your dog being lethargic after shots (your dog might even have trouble walking after shots) is the most common side effect dogs get from vaccines. This can be characterized by your pet not acting like their usual self. This is a normal reaction to vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and only last one or two days. If your dog isn't acting like themselves in a couple of days, call your vet for advice.

Localized swelling

  • As a result of their medications, dogs frequently develop lumps and bumps. A small, firm bump may form where the needle pierced the skin. This is a normal reaction, but pet owners should monitor the area to ensure that the lump does not grow larger or show signs of inflammation, oozing, or infection. The lump should be painless and disappear in about a week. Contact your veterinarian if the lump shows signs of infection or does not disappear after a week.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

  • While most dog vaccines are administered through injection, some are administered through drops or sprays into the animal's eyes or nose. Intranasal vaccine side effects include symptoms similar to a cold, such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Your dog's symptoms should subside in a day or two. If your pet's symptoms do not improve within a few days or become more severe, contact your veterinarian.

What serious side effects could my pet get from vaccines?

Most effects associated with puppies are short-lived and mild however, in a few rare cases more severe reactions requiring immediate medical attention can occur.

Serious reactions usually manifest within minutes of receiving the vaccine, but they can take up to 48 hours. Vaccines can cause severe side effects such as facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.

The most severe allergic reaction that pets can have as a result of vaccinations is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis usually occurs shortly after vaccination in dogs and cats, but it is important to remember that anaphylaxis can occur up to 48 hours after vaccination.

If your pet shows symptoms of anaphylaxis after their vaccinations, contact your vet immediately or call your closest emergency veterinary clinic.

How can I prevent my pet from reacting to getting their shots?

Vaccines are an important part of protecting your dog's overall health. The risk of your pet having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

If your furry companion has had a reaction to vaccines in the past, be sure to let your vet know. Your veterinarian might recommend skipping a specific vaccination in the future. You can also let your vet know of a minor issue (such as your puppy crying when you pick him up after a vaccine) so that they may calm your nerves.

When multiple vaccinations are given at once to smaller dogs, the risk of vaccine reaction increases. If your puppy is a small or miniature breed, your vet may recommend spreading out your puppy's shots over several days rather than all at once.

If your dog is due for its shots contact our Edgewater veterinary hospital to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about our pet vaccinations by visiting our website.