Generally speaking, the risk of your canine companion having a serious reaction to a vaccine is quite low and, in most instances, s well worth the risk. Vaccines protect your dog from a number of quite serious conditions that are difficult and expensive to treat otherwise. Here, our Gilbert vets share some advice about how to handle a reaction to a vaccine in your dog.
Why Your Dogs Should Get Their Shots
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 on a regular basis to maintain your dog's protection against diseases. Some of the most important vaccinations for puppies to have include rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus.
While we believe that vaccines are important for all dogs, not all dogs will need the exact same vaccines. The shots that your dog needs to stay healthy will depend on where you live, your pup's age, and their lifestyle. All of thee factors combines will determine your dog's risk of contracting certain diseases that can be mitigated with vaccines.
Your vet will be able to help you determine which immunizations are right for your pet.
Common Mild Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs
The fact is, any medical procedure has the potential to lead to an adverse reaction. Reactions to a vaccine are uncommon but when they do occur they tend to be very mild and not last very long.
Knowing the symptoms of a reaction to a vaccine in dogs can help you to spot any reactions that your dog does have to their shots and may help make vaccinations less stressful for you and your dog.
- Lethargy - Mild discomfort, sluggishness and just not feeling like their normal services are all common reactions seen in dogs to getting their shots. Sometimes, this is also accompanied by a mild fever that is caused by your dog's immune system responding to the vaccination. These mild symptoms are quite normal and should only last between one and two days. If your dog isn't back to their regular levels of energy within 48 hours of their shot, contact your vet 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 - The symptoms of shok after a vaccine may include a slow heart rate, a decrease in blood pressure and a generalized bodily weakness. You may also notice a gray tongue and 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 anti-histamines. 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
Making sure that you keep your dog's shots up to date will help to protect your pooch's long-term health. It's important to remember, when considering the risks of vaccine reactions for your dog, that serious reactions are very rare.
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.
There is a slight increase in the risk of more serious reactions to vaccines when multiple shots are administered during a single veterinary appointment - especially for smaller dogs. In order to minimize your pup's risk of reactions to their vaccines, your vet may recommend that you spread out the vaccinations over several days rather than doing them all at once.
Should I have my dog revaccinated?
Knowing exactly what your dog's risk of having a reaction all over again is if they are getting revaccinated can be difficult to predict. Some dogs will have no reaction upon second vaccination while others may experience the same reaction they had previously. In rare cases dogs will have a serious reaction to a vaccine that they have previously had administered without issue.
If your dog has had a reaction to their first round of shots, speak to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits concerning vaccines and your dog's health. Your vet may recommend not vaccinating your pup for particular diseases based upon 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.