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Side Effects from Dog Vaccinations: Everything You Should Know

Side Effects from Dog Vaccinations: Everything You Should Know

The benefits of vaccinating your dog outweigh any risks of them developing a side effect to their vaccines. Today, our Stuart vets list some of the most common vaccine side effects in dogs and the steps you should take if your dog has a reaction.

Why Vaccinate Your Dog

The best thing you can do to help your dog live a long and healthy life is to have them vaccinated when they are young, and bring them back to the vet regularly for their shots as an adult. Vaccinations protect your pooch from a variety of serious and often deadly diseases such as parvovirus, hepatitis, and diabetes. Vaccines help prevent these illnesses from arising in the first place, and it's always best to prevent diseases instead of treating them after they are already present in your pet. 

Will My Dog Need All Available Vaccines?

Your vet will determine your dog's level of risk based on their age, breed, and lifestyle, then recommend the immunizations they deem are most appropriate for your dog.

The Most Common Side Effects to Vaccinations in Dogs

With any medical procedure, there is the possibility of adverse reactions, and vaccines are no exception. It could be unsettling for caring dog owners, to see their pet develop a side effect to their vaccines or hear their puppy yelping after their vaccinations, but it's essential for you to know that most reactions are mild and short in duration. Knowing what the signs of a reaction are and what you should do if your dog develops a side effect can help make vaccination time less stressful for both you and your dog.


Overall, the most common side effect dogs get from their vaccinations is a general feeling of discomfort and lethargy, in combination with this they may also develop a mild fever. Many of us would describe this feeling as being 'off'. This lethargic reaction after your dog's shots is your pup's immune system working well and responding to the vaccine appropriately. These mild symptoms are normal and should only last a day or two. If your dog isn't back to normal within a couple of days, contact your vet.

Lumps & Bumps

Just like feeling 'off', lumps and bumps can be a common vaccine reaction in dogs. Following the vaccination, a small, firm bump could form at the location where the needle was administered into the muscle or skin. These bumps arise as a response to your dog's immune system rushing to resolve the localized irritation at the site.

Although, there is a risk for infection any time a dog's skin becomes punctured. Remember to monitor the injection site and watch for signs of redness, swelling, pain, and discharge. If it goes untreated, infected areas could result in more serious conditions. If you see the site becoming increasingly red or showing any of the symptoms listed above, call your vet quickly.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

While the majority of vaccines are through an injection, the Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus vaccines are given by sprays or drops into the dog's nose. These reactions to the vaccines can look much like a cold, and include coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms after one or two days. If your dog is exhibiting more severe symptoms or they don't recover after a couple of days, you need to call your vet.

Severe Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Most vaccine side effects in dogs are mild and short-lived. But, in some rare situations, more serious reactions can develop and need immediate attention. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction characterized by facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. Anaphylaxis typically occurs very soon after the dog receives the injection but may occur up to 48 hours after the vaccine has been administered. If your dog shows any of the symptoms listed above, call your vet immediately or contact your emergency veterinary clinic.

Can I Prevent My Dog From Having Vaccine Side Effects?

Vaccines help to protect the long-term health of your dog, and the risk of your dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low.

That said, if your dog has had a previous reaction to a vaccine, it is important to inform your veterinarian. Your vet may advise you to skip a particular vaccination in the future.

The risk of reactions to vaccinations increases somewhat when multiple vaccinations are given at one time. This can be particularly true in smaller dogs. To help reduce the risk of reactions, your vet may suggest getting your dog's shots over the course of several days rather than all at once.

For more information about the vaccinations and preventive care products, we offer for dogs at Animal Care Extraordinaire contact our Stuart vets today.

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Our Stuart vets can't wait to meet you! Our welcoming and accommodating team is passionate about the needs of your pets. Reach out to us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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