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Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Vaccines are essential to your dog's health and, overall, the risk of a serious reaction is very low. Today, our Knightdale vets discuss some common reactions to vaccines in dogs and when it's time to seek veterinary care. 

Why Vaccinate Your Dog

Vaccines help to give your dog their best chance at a long, healthy life. While your dog is still a puppy it should receive a series of vaccinations that are then followed up on a regular basis throughout their adulthood with booster vaccinations. Some of the most important vaccinations for puppies include hepatitis, parvovirus, and rabies.

However, not all vaccinations are required for all dogs. The vaccines your dog needs are determined by where you live, the age of your dog, and your pet's lifestyle. These factors interact to determine your dog's risk of contracting diseases that can be avoided through vaccination. Your veterinarian can advise you on which vaccinations your dog needs.

Common Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs

Any medical procedure has the potential to lead to an adverse reaction. Reactions to a vaccine are uncommon however when they do occur they are typically very mild and short-lived.

Knowing the symptoms of a vaccine reaction can help you to spot a reaction if your dog does have one and may help to make vaccination time less stressful for you and your dog.

  • Lethargy - Sluggishness and mild discomfort are the most common reactions dogs experience to being vaccinated. Sometimes this is also accompanied by a mild fever caused by your pup's immune system responding to the vaccination. These mild symptoms are normal and should only last a day or two. If your dog isn’t back to normal within 48 hours, contact your vet to let them know.
  • Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms - The majority of vaccines are administered through injection, but parainfluenza and Bordetella virus vaccines are administered through nasal sprays or drops. Common cold symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and/or a runny nose are common reactions to these vaccines. Your dog should recover from these symptoms within a few days. Contact your veterinarian if your dog's symptoms worsen or if he takes longer to recover.

Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

While most reactions to vaccines that dogs have will be mild and short-lived, in rare cases your dog could experience a serious reaction that requires emergency veterinary care.

  • Anaphylaxis - Face swelling, diarrhea, itchiness, hives, vomiting, and difficulty breathing can all result from this severe allergic reaction. This type of severe reaction usually occurs soon after your pet receives the injection (typically while you are still at the veterinarian's office), but it can happen up to 48 hours later.
  • Shock - The 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!

How Vaccine Reactions Are Treated

Fortunately, adverse reactions as a result of vaccinations can often be reversed with proper treatment and your pet should recover quickly.

  • Reactions that are not life-threatening and confined to the skin may be treated with cortisone and antihistamines. Symptoms will usually clear up quickly once treatments begin. 
  • Anaphylaxis and shock both require immediate veterinary care! Your dog will be given medications and intravenous fluids to help him recover and restore his vital signs. Cortisol and epinephrine may be administered in these cases.

Preventing Dog Reactions to Vaccines

Your pup's vaccinations help 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.

Nonetheless, if your dog has experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine in the past it’s important to inform your veterinarian so this history can be recorded. If a previous reaction has occurred your vet may recommend skipping a specific vaccination in the future.

When multiple vaccinations are administered at the same time, the risk of vaccine reactions increases slightly. This is particularly true for puppies. To help reduce the risk of an adverse reaction in your pet, your veterinarian may recommend spreading out your dog's vaccinations over several days rather than all at once.

Is vaccinating my dog worth it?

Yes, in almost every case! Vaccines are relatively safe when compared to the serious conditions and illnesses they protect against. Prevention is the best medicine. Preventing diseases and disorders can help your dog live a long and healthy life while potentially saving you money and time in the future!

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.

For more information on vaccinations and preventive care, contact our Knightdale vets today to set up an appointment! 

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Smithfield Road Veterinary Hospital, PLLC is currently accepting new patients! Our experienced and kind vets are passionate about the health of Knightdale pets. Contact us today to book your furry friend's first appointment.

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