Vaccines are essential to your dog's health and overall, the risk of a serious reaction is very low. Today, our Las Vegas 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 they 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.

That said, not all dogs need all the vaccines that are available. Which vaccines your dog should have depends upon where you live, your dog's age, and your pet'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 your dog should receive.

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 by injection but the parainfluenza and Bordetella virus vaccines are given in the form of nasal sprays or drops. Reactions to these vaccines tend to look like basic cold symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and/or a runny nose. Expect your pup to recover from these symptoms within a couple of days. If these symptoms become more severe or it’s taking your pooch longer to recover, it's a good idea to contact your vet.

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 - 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.

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 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 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.

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.

Is vaccinating my dog worth it?

In almost all situations - yes! Vaccines carry a relatively low risk compared to the serious conditions and illnesses they protect against. Prevention is the best care. By stopping diseases and disorders before they begin you can help your dog live a long and healthy life and potentially save yourself from expensive and time-consuming treatments 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 Las Vegas vets today to set up an appointment!