Dog Vaccination Dangers

Dog vaccination dangers are more an more present in veterinarian debates as some voices argue that, in addition to the known short-term risks of vaccination, there might be serious side effects to boosters and even to the initial vaccinations. Less radical voices claim that the balance between benefits and risks of vaccination would be set right if vaccinations were scheduled less often (i.e. once every three years), reducing the risks.

Vaccination Dangers Depending on the Type of the Vaccine

A vaccine contains essentially an antigen (which can be a weakened live germ, part of a germ or a neutralized germ) that triggers an immune reaction from the organism in order to begin protection against the germ and other substances such as antibiotics, preservatives and living cells on which the germ was cultivated.

Core vaccinations are those that are considered a must in order to protect dogs from largely spread canine diseases. These include rabies, distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis. Regarding these vaccines veterinarians tend to agree that the risk of contracting these viruses is higher than that of having serious side-effects.

Non-core vaccines are vaccines that are done as a response to geographic conditions or to certain epidemics. Veterinarians should discuss these with every dog owner.

Boosters or annual revaccinations are a practice that looses adepts. There’s still a debate about how long a body's immune system can be immune to a certain germ that it has been vaccinated against. A widespread opinion is that, as long as the immune response is active, revaccination will only multiply the risks without bringing health benefits.

Immediate Vaccination Dangers

Some dog breeds or dogs suffering from weakened immune system or allergies can undergo serious anaphylactic reactions as a consequence of vaccination.

Other acute reactions can occur 24 to 72 hours after vaccination and may include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • granulomas
  • irritation of the injection site

The dog will tend to lick the injection site and this can lead to skin infections or even hair loss.

Long-term Vaccination Dangers

While immediate sensitivity to vaccines is something veterinarians agree on, long term effects are still under debate. Theories stating that vaccines can cause immune mediated syndromes later in the dog's life are more and more widespread, although clear proof has not yet been made public. Here are some theories:

  • Increased vulnerability to allergies is suspected to be one of the side-effects of vaccination.
  • Vaccination, especially the yearly boosters, could be a cause leading to immune system mediated diseases
  • Another theory suggests that, while protecting your dog from acute disease, vaccination favors chronic disease in your pet.

Other diseases suspected to be linked to vaccination include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid disorders (hyper- and hypothyroidism)
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Renal failure
  • Cystitis or lower urinary tract disease
  • Joint disease (especially the distemper vaccination)
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Neurological diseases such as confusion
  • Asthma
  • Cancer and the development of tumors at the injection sites.