Adverse Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Vaccine reactions in dogs are not uncommon. In most cases, the dog will display redness and swelling, but there are also stronger allergic reactions that can be fatal if not handled in a timely manner.

Vaccines for Canines

Canines receive a number of essential vaccines that will protect them from frequent infections and diseases. There are vaccines which should be administered in all dogs (i.e. the rabies shot), but there are also vaccines that will only be administered in some dogs that have a certain genetic background or are exposed to a certain virus.

The vaccines should be administered during pupyhood, starting from the age of 6 weeks, and then booster shots will be recommended once every year or every 3 years. There are different schools of thought whether yearly vaccine boosters are needed. Some scientists support the idea that booster shots are only needed once every 3 years, due to the possible adverse reactions.

Common Negative Reactions

Common negative reactions that may be present in canines after the administration of vaccines include:

  • Swelling and rashes at the injection site (apply cold compresses after the injection to reduce these symptoms)
  • Bumps
  • Flu like symptoms such as fever, coughing, lethargy and muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Infection at the injection site

These symptoms are not severe and will subside within 1 week after the shot is administered. If an infection occurs, the dog will need some antibiotics.

Severe Adverse Reactions

The cat may also develop severe adverse reactions, if he is sensitive or allergic to the compounds of the vaccine.

The severe adverse reactions may be:

  • Swelling of feet
  • Swelling of face
  • Constricted air passages, resulting in panting and difficulties in breathing

These symptoms typically develop within 30 minutes after the administration of the vaccines. For this reason, some vets prefer to keep the pet under surveillance immediately after the vaccine shots.

If severe allergic reactions occur, the dog requires a dose of epinephrine, which is a substance that will immediately reduce the swelling allowing the dog to breathe normally. If the dog doesn’t get help within 7 minutes after the symptoms occur, the adverse reactions may be fatal, as the dog will not get sufficient oxygen.  

If you know your pet reacts badly to vaccines, you should let the vet know and administer only the required shots. The vet may administer an epinephrine shot prior to the vaccine, to avoid the adverse reactions.

Other Adverse Reactions

Other less common adverse reactions to vaccine may include:

  • Neurological damage (i.e. confusion, lack of coordination)
  • Muscle damage, if the injections are not properly administered
  • Liver and kidney damage, as the vaccines contain a lot of toxic materials
  • Sarcomas (some dogs may develop sarcomas in the injected areas, which links the occurrence of sarcomas to vaccinations, but this theory is not confirmed yet).