Side Effects of Basic Puppy Shots

Find out common puppy shots and their possible side effects. Puppies receive numerous shots in their first year of life. Therefore, it is important to know when the side effects are normal or when the puppy's health might be in danger.

Typical Puppy Shots Schedule

Because it is difficult to determine if a puppy has enough antibodies in their system to protect against common canine diseases, most vets recommend starting puppy shots at six weeks of age and offering boosters every three weeks until the puppy is sixteen weeks of age. Rabies is the only exception. Puppies receive one rabies vaccination when they reach twelve weeks of age and then go in for a new rabies vaccine one year later. This second rabies shot usually lasts two years.

The five important canine vaccinations are:

  • Canine Adenovirus-2/Hepatitis
  • Canine Parvovirus-2
  • Distemper
  • Rabies

Veterinarians usually use the five-way or seven-way vaccines. The five-way puppy shots protect against Distemper, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Parainfluenza and Parvo. The seven-way vaccine protects against the same illnesses as the five-way but adds Leptospirosis and Coronavirus.

For puppies who will be exposed to other dogs or areas where ticks are problematic, there are a few optional puppy shots that are recommended.

  • Coronavirus
  • Kennel Cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease

Common Side Effects of Puppy Shots

In many cases, side effects of puppy shots are limited. One area of great concern is the inability for some puppies to gain the required antibodies from the vaccinations. The Parvovirus vaccine is one of the best illustrations. A number of vaccinated puppies still develop Parvo every year and end up dying from the disease. This usually happens because the puppy was exposed to the Parvovirus before the vaccination had time to take effect or the vaccine was not stored properly.

Most vaccines cause little more than pain and swelling at the injection site. Some puppies become less energetic on the day they received their vaccinations, but usually they are back to normal on the second day.

Low-grade fever and decreased appetite are also common side effects to puppy shots. They all disappear within a day or two.

Dogs with allergies usually find their allergies worsen if they receive their vaccinations when allergy season is at its worst. If your dog has allergies to environmental factors like mold spores or pollen, consider having his puppy vaccinations delayed until after allergy season passes.

Side Effects to Watch for with Puppy Shots

More dangerous side effects include anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is linked to vaccines with a killed virus like rabies, Coronavirus or Leptospirosis. Signs include seizures, severe diarrhea, shock and vomiting. This reaction occurs rarely but requires emergency veterinary care.

Canine distemper vaccinations have been linked to inflammation of the brain and Canine Adenovirus vaccinations cause eye inflammation in some puppies. The intranasal vaccinations, like Kennel Cough, are known to cause mild coughing in dogs and puppies for a few days following the vaccination.

Finally, some puppies develop abscesses in the injection site after receiving their shots. The abscess is the body's reaction to the vaccination itself and rarely caused by a bacterial infection. It's worthwhile to ask your veterinarian if he thinks the puppy should be seen as a precaution.