The vaccinations that your dog needs for protection against serious conditions will depend on their health, age, and lifestyle. While there is a small chance of side effects, the benefits are considered to outweigh the risks. Today, our Ruckersville vets talk about the importance of vaccinations and what the possible vaccine reactions are for dogs.

The Purpose of Vaccines For Dogs

Vaccinations starting when your dog is just a puppy help to give your pup their very best chance at a long and healthy life. Vaccine boosters are also necessary regularly to maintain your dog's protection against diseases. Some of the most important vaccinations for puppies to have include rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus.

Although our vets believe that vaccines are important for all dogs, not all dogs need the same vaccines. 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.

Mild Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

It's important to note that any medical procedure can result in an adverse reaction. Side effects from dog vaccinations are rare, but if they do happen, they are usually mild and short-lived.

Knowing the symptoms of a 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 - Your dog may appear sluggish and lethargic after receiving their shots. This can include noticing that your dog is having trouble walking after their shots and is fairly normal. 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.
  • Soreness - You may notice that your puppy is yelping after their vaccinations or crying when you pick him up after his shots. This is normal as the injection area may be feeling a little sore. This will relieve itself fairly quickly.

Serious Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

As stated earlier, the majority of dogs that receive vaccinations and encounter side effects will only experience mild and temporary reactions. In rare instances, pets may experience more severe reactions that necessitate prompt 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.

How are vaccine reactions in dogs treated?

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.

How can vaccination reactions be prevented?

Ensuring your dog's shots are current is crucial for safeguarding your pet's overall well-being. It's worth noting that the likelihood of a severe vaccine reaction in most dogs is extremely low.

It is important to let your vet know if your dog has had a negative reaction to a vaccine before, so that this information can be documented in your pet's medical records. Your vet may advise against administering a particular vaccination in the future if a previous reaction has occurred.

Receiving multiple shots during a single appointment slightly increases the risk of vaccine reactions. Smaller dogs often experience this phenomenon. Your vet may suggest spacing out your dog's vaccinations over multiple days to reduce the chances of any negative reactions in your pet.

Why is it important to have your dog vaccinated?

It is challenging to predict the likelihood of your dog reacting again if revaccinated. When dogs receive the vaccination for a second time, their reactions can vary. While some dogs may not show any response, others may experience the same reaction as before. In rare instances, dogs may even face a severe and life-threatening reaction to a vaccine they have previously received.

If your dog has had a reaction to their first round of shots, it's important to have a conversation with your veterinarian regarding the potential risks and benefits of vaccines in relation to your dog's health. Based on your pet's previous reaction, your vet may advise against vaccinating your pup for certain diseases.

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.

Is it time for your dog's routine examination and vaccinations? Contact our Ruckersville vets today to book an appointment for your furry friend.