Most dog owners understand and accept the importance of vaccinating their dogs against transmissible diseases, and this means undertaking the initial staged vaccinations with your puppy before they go outside for the first time, and scheduling annual health checks and booster shots for them when they are fully grown too.
The vast majority of dogs that are vaccinated don’t have any problems whatsoever as a result of the vaccine itself, and those that do will generally simply feel a little sleepy or less lively than normal for a day or so, or develop a small spot or irritation at the injection site that will go away on its own.
That said, a very small proportion of dogs have adverse vaccine reactions, which occur when the dog’s body mistakenly identifies some element of the vaccine itself as a threat or danger and triggers a whole arsenal of responses to tackle it. In some cases, this may mean that your dog should not receive future vaccines in order to prevent future problems – but this is not always the case.
If your dog reacts badly to vaccines, your vet may order in a different type of vaccine agent, or choose to administer each of the various vaccinations that are normally contained within one combined shot separately, to prevent problems.
However, if your dog has had a bad reaction to a vaccine in the past or if you have reason to be concerned that they might in future, finding out about your options and what to expect is very important.
Because bad reactions to vaccines in dogs are not very common, it can be hard to find out reliable information about vaccine reactions in dogs and what they mean for the dog in question. This in turn has led to a number of myths and misconceptions about vaccine reactions in dogs that circulate by word of mouth and on the internet, and it is important to learn the truth before you have to make any decisions of your own about your own dog’s care.
In this article we will introduce you to five common misconceptions about adverse vaccine reactions in dogs, and the truth behind them. Read on to learn more.
The first time a dog is ever vaccinated is logically the most likely time for them to have an adverse reaction to their vaccines, and this is something you should remain vigilant for the first time your pup gets their shots.
However, allergies, sensitivities and adverse reactions can develop over the course of the dog’s lifetime, just as they can in people, and a dog may develop an adverse vaccine reaction later on in life.
Additionally, the makeup of vaccines and their carrier agents might change in between boosters, and this may affect dogs who may not be sensitive to one substance but that are to another.
If your dog is allergic to vaccines, giving them a lower than normal dose of the vaccine itself will achieve nothing, and your vet is exceedingly unlikely to go ahead with this. Not only that, but giving less than the necessary prescribed dose of the vaccine agent means that it won’t protect your dog either – so your dog will go through a potentially bad reaction, without getting any protection at the end of it all.
Some vaccine reactions develop very quickly and are obvious immediately, but this is not always the case. Vaccine reactions in dogs can be very variable in terms of their severity and symptoms, and a mild reaction might not even be noticed at all.
It can potentially take a couple of days for the symptom of a vaccine reaction in dogs to become apparent, and not all reactions are acute and sudden in nature.
If your dog has reacted badly to a vaccine once, there is a greater chance that they will react in the same way in the future, but this is not necessarily the case. Just as allergies can develop over time, they can lessen in terms of their severity too, or even go away entirely in some cases.
If your vet can identify exactly what causes the reaction you may even be able to have desensitisation therapy for your dog to treat and resolve the allergy.
Future vaccinations will need to be handled carefully and monitored closely, but depending on your dog’s past reactions and your vet’s professional views on the matter, they might be able to be vaccinated in future nonetheless.
In the UK, the injectable vaccine that vets use for dogs as standard is called a combined vaccine, because it contains a mixture of different vaccines to protect your dog against a number of different health conditions instead of just one. This avoids the need for your dog to have several injections to get full coverage.
However, if your dog has reacted badly to a combined vaccine, your vet may advise administering their next vaccines individually, or they may suggest alternative vaccine types to enable your dog to be protected or at least partially protected.
These options are not necessarily viable for every dog – but it is a myth that a one-time allergic reaction means no more boosters, and also that there is only one type of vaccine on the market.