The Importance of Vaccinating Your Dog
Your dog should start receiving vaccines when they are still a puppy so they can get their best chance at long-term good health. Your pooch will also require vaccination booster shots on a routine basis so they can maintain their level of disease protection once the effects of the initial vaccination wear off. A few of the most important vaccinations for puppies are rabies, parvovirus, and hepatitis.
However, not all dogs require every available vaccine. The specific vaccines your dog should get depends on your dog's lifestyle, age, and where you live. Together these factors determine your pup's risk of contracting diseases that can be prevented with vaccinations. Your vet will be able to help you determine which immunizations your canine companion should get.
Common Reactions to Dog Vaccinations
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 what the symptoms of a vaccine reaction are can help you to spot a reaction if your dog does have one, this might also help 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 - Most vaccines are given through injection but, the parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica virus vaccines are administered in the form of nasal sprays or drops. Reactions to these vaccines are similar to the symptoms of a cold including a runny nose, coughing, sneezing. Your pooch should recover from these side effects within a couple of days. If these symptoms become worse or it’s taking your dog a long time to recover, you should call your vet.
Serious Vaccine Reactions
While most reactions dogs develop after receiving a vaccine are mild and short-lived, in some rare cases, our canine companions can have more severe reactions that need immediate medical attention.
- Anaphylaxis - This severe allergic reaction can involve facial swelling, diarrhea, itchiness, hives, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. This type of severe reaction will usually occur very soon after your pet receives the 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 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.
Contact your vet immediately If your dog is showing signs of anaphylaxis or shock, or call the nearest emergency veterinary clinic!
Treating Vaccination Reactions
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 anti-histamines. Symptoms will usually clear up quickly once treatments begin.
- Both 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. Cortisone and epinephrine may also be used in these circumstances.
Preventing Reactions to Dog Vaccines
Vaccinations help to protect the long-term health of your pup, and it's essential for you to know that the risk of having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low for the majority of dogs.
However, if your pooch has experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine they have received in the past you need to tell your veterinarian so they can record it in your pet's medical history. If your pup has previously experienced a reaction your vet might suggest skipping a certain vaccine in the future.
There is a small increase in the risk of reactions to vaccines when multiple vaccinations are given during a single appointment. This is especially true for smaller dogs. To help minimize the risk of an adverse reaction in your pet, your veterinarian may recommend spreading your dog’s vaccinations out over several days rather than all at once.
Should I have my dog revaccinated?
It's hard to know what your dog's risk is to having another reaction if they are revaccinated. Some pets will have no reaction when they have the vaccination a second time, some dogs will experience the same reaction that they had previously, and in rare cases, dogs will experience a serious life-threatening reaction to the vaccine.
If your pooch has developed a reaction to their first round of shots, talk you your veterinarian about your dog's level of risk and the benefits associated with the vaccine and your pup's health. Your vet might suggest not vaccinating your canine companion for specific diseases depending on your dog's reaction.
In cases where the vaccine is legally mandated by your local municipality, speak to your veterinarian about advocating on your behalf and sending a letter using the animal hospital letterhead explaining that the vaccine could be potentially life-threatening to your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.