Vaccine Reactions. Some Dogs Have Them And Some Dogs Don’t.
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  • Post published:19/04/2021
  • Post last modified:19/04/2021

Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergic reactions from vaccines.

Allergic reactions from a vaccine can be a scary thing for any pet owner when they aren’t aware of what one is.

I see vaccines given several times a day every week and rarely do I see a pet have a reaction but we always make sure that clients know what to look for if their pet is getting a vaccine for the first time.

What is a vaccine reaction in pets?

“In many cases, a vaccine is simply a strain of the virus modified to allow the dog’s immune system to fight and destroy it.

The immune system builds antibodies that will fight off any future invasion of this virus, thus rendering the dog “immune” to the virus.

However, the dog can sometimes display side effects of the disease or virus itself, and some dogs appear to “get sick” for a day or two after being inoculated.” 

small dog getting a vaccine over right rear legsmall dog getting a vaccine over right rear leg

Mild Vaccine Reactions Seen In Dogs

Many dogs will experience mild vaccine reactions that often subside after a few hours or a day. 

Most dog owners won’t even notice these symptoms because they are so mild but they can include:

  1. Pain or soreness where the vaccine was given
  2. Lethargy
  3. Mild fever. Read how to check your dog’s temperature.
  4. A small lump where the vaccine was given.

small dog getting vaccine over right shouldersmall dog getting vaccine over right shoulder

Moderate Vaccine Reactions Seen In Pets 

Moderate vaccine reactions can be seen in any dog and they can appear within minutes of the vaccine being given or they can take several hours to appear. 

These reactions may include:

  1. Hives. 
  2. Swelling of the face and/or muzzle
  3. Mild vomiting and/or diarrhea

Severe Vaccine Reactions In Pets

A severe dog reaction from a vaccine is also referred to as anaphylaxis. 

An anaphylaxis reaction requires immediate attention from a veterinarian.

Signs and symptoms of a server vaccine reaction in a dog may include the following:

  1. Pale gums
  2. Severe vomiting/drooling
  3. Weak pulses. Read how to check your dog’s pulse from home.
  4. Shallow/rapid breathing
  5. Seizures
  6. Collapse
  7. Coma, and in worst-case scenarios, death.

How Long After A Dog Vaccine Is Given Can A Reaction Occur?

Vaccine reactions can occur immediately following the administration of the vaccine or can take up to 48 hours to appear.

In most cases, a severe reaction will occur almost instantly.

I always explain to clients that a vaccine reaction is similar to a reaction your dog might have if they get stung by a bee and are allergic to them.

Some dogs have no reactions to a bee sting, some have mild reactions, some moderate reactions and a few have severe reactions.

The reason I bring this up is because the other day I saw my first case of a dog that went into anaphylactic shock after a vaccine was administered.

small dog being given a vaccine in the right rear legsmall dog being given a vaccine in the right rear leg

The dog had a history of vaccine reactions but not with this particular vaccine, of which it had been given before.

Within 10 minutes of giving the vaccine, the dog began to vomit white foam, had pale gums, went limp and had a fever of over 103, and was breathing rapidly.

In my seven years of being a vet assistant, I personally, had never had a patient have this severe of a reaction to a vaccine before and to say that it was scary would be an understatement.

Thankfully, we were able to stabilize the dog and within an hour the dog was basically back to normal and sitting up smiling at me which is when I came down off of my adrenaline rush, took and a deep breath, and almost vomited on the floor.

How Long Do Dog Vaccine Reactions Last?

Some mild vaccine reactions such as a bump or nodule under the dog’s skin can take up to 14 days to go away.

If the bump seems to be getting bigger or is painful when touched you should contact your veterinarian. 

Mild lethargy symptoms after vaccines can last a few hours to a day.

If a dog is more sleepy than what is normal for them for more than a day you should contact your veterinarian. 

If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.




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