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Vaccine Reactions in Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Usually, the likelihood of your dog experiencing a severe reaction to a vaccine is very low, and the benefits of vaccination outweigh any minimal risks. Vaccines are essential for safeguarding your furry friend against a range of serious illnesses that may be challenging and costly. However, in case your dog reacts to a vaccine, our vets in Lincoln share some tips on how to manage it.

Why Your Dogs Should Get Their Shots

It is highly recommended to start vaccinating your puppy as soon as possible to give them the best chance at living a healthy and long life. Regular booster shots are also necessary to protect your dog against diseases. Some of the most crucial vaccinations for puppies are rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus.

Although all dogs require vaccinations, the specific shots your dog needs will vary based on several factors, including your location, your dog's age, and lifestyle. These factors will determine the risk of your dog contracting diseases that vaccination can prevent. Therefore, it is best to consult a veterinarian to help determine which immunizations suit your pet.

Common Mild Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs

Medical procedures, including vaccines, have the potential to cause adverse reactions. However, vaccine reactions are uncommon; when they occur, they are usually mild and short-lived.

Being aware of the symptoms of a reaction can help you identify any issues if your dog does experience one. By doing so, you can make the vaccination process less stressful for both you and your dog.

  • 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 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 most 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 your pup takes longer to recover, contact your vet for advice.

Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

While most dog vaccines cause only mild and brief reactions, some pets may experience severe and immediate reactions that require urgent 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 experiences non-life-threatening skin reactions, treatment may include cortisone and/or anti-histamines. Symptoms typically improve quickly with treatment.
  • 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

It's important to keep your dog's vaccinations up-to-date to ensure their long-term health. While the risk of an adverse reaction to a vaccine is low for most dogs, it's important to inform your vet if your pet has experienced a negative reaction in the past. This will help your vet record the history in your pet's medical files and advise you on whether to skip a specific vaccine in the future.

When multiple shots are given during a single appointment, there is a small increase in the risk of a reaction to vaccines. This is particularly true for smaller dogs. To reduce the risk of an adverse reaction in your pet, your vet may recommend spreading out your dog's vaccinations over several days instead of administering them all at once.

Should I have my dog revaccinated?

Predicting the likelihood of a reaction in dogs if revaccinated can be challenging. Some dogs may not experience any negative reactions when they receive a vaccine for the second time, while others may experience the same reaction they had previously. In rare cases, dogs may even experience a severe life-threatening reaction to a previously administered vaccine.

If your dog has had a reaction to their first set of shots, it is essential to speak with your veterinarian about the best course of action. Your vet can help you weigh the risks and benefits of vaccines and determine whether your dog should be vaccinated for specific diseases based on their 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.

Is it time to get your dog vaccinated? Contact our Lincoln vets today to book an appointment to get your dog's shots.

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Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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