Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Everything You Should Know About Vaccine Reactions In Dogs

Everything You Should Know About Vaccine Reactions In Dogs

Your dog's risk of having a serious reaction or side effect after getting a vaccine is fairly low. Vaccines keep your dog safe from a range of serious conditions that can be expensive and hard to treat. Today, our Kinston vets discuss the different reactions and side effects dogs can have to vaccines and what you should do if your pooch develops one.

Why You Should Vaccinate Your Dog

Providing your dog with their vaccinations when they are still a puppy helps provide your pooch with their best chance at lifelong optimal health. Your dog will also need to be given their vaccine boosters on a regular basis in order to keep them protected against dangerous diseases. Rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus are just a few of the most important vaccinations for puppies to get.

While our Kinston vets believe that it's important for all dogs to get vaccines, not all dogs require the same vaccinations. The best shots for your dog will depend on their lifestyle, age, and where you live. Together, these factors establish your dog's risk level for getting diseases that can be vaccinated against. Your vet will help you decide which immunizations are best for your pooch.

Common Mild Reactions Dogs Have to Vaccines

All medical procedures pose a risk of an adverse reaction, including vaccinations. It's uncommon for dogs to have vaccine side effects, but when they do arise they are generally mild and short in duration.

It's easier to spot a reaction in your dog if you are aware of the potential symptoms, this could also help make your dog's vaccination time less stressful for both you and your pooch.

  • Lethargy - Some of the most common reactions dogs can have to their shots include sluggishness, mild discomfort, and just not feeling like their normal self. Occasionally, this is accompanied by a mild fever as a result of your dog's immune system responding to the vaccination. These mild symptoms are perfectly normal and should only last a day or two. If your dog isn’t back to normal within 48 hours, contact your veterinarian to inform them of the situation.
  • Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms - While most vaccinations are administered through an injection, the parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica virus vaccines are given in the form of nasal sprays or drops. Reactions to these vaccines tend to look like basic cold symptoms and may include sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Expect your pup to recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If these symptoms become more severe or it’s taking your pup longer to recover, contact your vet for advice.

Serious Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

As stated earlier, most of the reactions dogs develop after receiving their vaccines are mild and short-lived, there are some rare situations, where pets can have more severe reactions that need to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.

  • Anaphylaxis - This severe allergic reaction can consist of symptoms such as itchiness, facial swelling, diarrhea, hives, breathing difficulties, and vomiting. This type of severe reaction will usually occur very soon after your dog receives their injection, (typically while you are still at the vet's office), but can happen up to 48 hours after the vaccine is given.
  • Shock - Shock symptoms after vaccination could include a slow heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and generalized weakness. Your dog might also exhibit a gray tongue and pale mucous membranes.

Contact your vet immediately or visit the closest emergency veterinary clinic if your dog displays signs of anaphylaxis or shock.

Treating Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Thankfully, with proper treatment, most adverse reactions and side effects caused by vaccinations can usually be reversed, and your pup should recover fairly quickly.

  • If your dog's reaction is not life-threatening and confined to the skin, treatment is likely to include cortisone and/or anti-histamines. Symptoms will usually clear up quickly once treatments begin.
  • Serious reactions such as 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. Epinephrine and/or cortisone may also be used in these cases.

Preventing Your Dog From Having a Vaccine Reaction

You can help protect your dog's long-term health by keeping their shots up to date. It's also important to note that the risk of your dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

However, if your dog has had an adverse reaction to a vaccine in the past it’s important to tell your vet so this history can be added to your pet's medical files. If a previous reaction has occurred your vet may recommend skipping a specific vaccination in the future.

You should also call your vet if your dog is having trouble walking after getting their shots or if your puppy starts crying when you pick them up. It's also critical to contact your veterinarian if your dog's mild symptoms don't go away after a couple of days or if you aren't sure what to do if your pup does get a reaction after being given a vaccine.

A dog's risk of getting a reaction increases slightly if they are being given multiple vaccinations in a single appointment. This can be especially true for smaller dogs. To minimize the risk of an adverse reaction in your pet, your vet may recommend spreading your dog’s vaccinations out over several days rather than doing them all at once.

Do I Need to Get My Dog Revaccinated?

It can be hard to predict if your dog will have another reaction to a vaccine if they are revaccinated. Some dogs won't have any reactions when they are vaccinated for the second time, others will develop the same reaction that they had previously, and in rare situations, dogs will experience a serious life-threatening reaction to a vaccine that they have previously had.

If your dog has had a reaction to their first round of shots, speak to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits concerning vaccines and your dog's health. Your vet may recommend not vaccinating your pup for particular diseases based on your pet's previous reaction.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Kinston vets today if it's time for your dog to get their vaccinations or booster shots.

Always Welcoming New Patients

Five Oaks Animal Hospital is thrilled to be accepting new patients! Our qualified vets are passionate about the health of Kinston companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (252) 686-8601