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Vaccination Safety and Side Effects: What Every Pet Owner Should Know

Vaccines and booster shots are a crucial part of your pet's ongoing care. Some pets may experience a reaction or varying severity. Even so, the benefits of these shots far outweigh the risks. Here, our vets talk about the side effects of vaccines for dogs and cats and the importance of pet vaccinations in Deer Park.

The Importance of Dog & Cat Vaccinations in Deer Park

Similar to how people receive vaccines for certain illnesses, we can protect our four-legged friends with shots for pets. 

These vaccines guard against many serious conditions that could threaten your pet's overall health or longevity. 

We can sympathize with pet owners for whom money is tight. While having your cat or dog vaccinated might seem like an unnecessary expense at the time, pet vaccines are likely to cost far less than having the illnesses they protect against treated. 

Dog & Cat Vaccinations Based on Lifestyle & Location

Your vet can recommend which vaccines your pet should have based on their lifestyle and other factors since not all animals will need all the available vaccines. Your pet's age, lifestyle, and where you live are major factors that will determine which vaccines will benefit them the most. 

For pets over 6 months of age, rabies vaccines are required by law in most locations across the United States and Canada. This vaccination must be kept up to date and pet owners will receive a certificate once their cat or dog has been vaccinated. 

Why You Should Bring Your Pet in For Vaccinations

Some pet owners wonder what the dangers are of having their pets unvaccinated. You can protect your pet from deadly, dangerous diseases and preserve their health by proactively having them vaccinated and keeping your four-legged family members up to date on their booster shots. 

Many vaccines, such as rabies vaccines for both cats and dogs, are mandated across the United States. In many areas, residents require vaccination records to obtain a pet license. 

If you stay in pet-friendly hotels, attend dog parks, have your pet groomed, or travel with your pet, vaccinations may be required and can prevent your furry best friend from contracting contagious diseases from other animals, along with inadvertently spreading infection. This is also accurate for doggy daycares, pet-sitting services, and other businesses. 

Mild Reactions to Pet Vaccinations

The fact is, any medical procedure has the potential to lead to an adverse reaction. Side effects from dog vaccinations are uncommon but when they do occur they tend to be very mild and not last very long.

Knowing the symptoms of a reaction can help you to spot a reaction if your dog does have one, and may help to make vaccination time less stressful for you and your dog.

  • Lethargy - Your dog may appear sluggish and lethargic after receiving their shots. This can include noticing that your dog is having trouble walking after their shots and is fairly normal. Sometimes this is also accompanied by a mild fever caused by 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 let them know.
  • Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms - While the majority of vaccines are administered by 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.
  • Soreness - You may notice that your puppy is yelping after their vaccinations or crying when you pick him up after his shots. This is normal as the injection area may be feeling a little sore. This will relieve itself fairly quickly.

Serious Reactions to Pet Vaccinations

As mentioned above, most dogs who have vaccinations and experience side effects will only have mild and short-lived reactions. In some rare cases, pets can have more severe reactions that require immediate medical attention.

  • Anaphylaxis - This severe allergic reaction can involve symptoms including facial swelling, diarrhea, itchiness, hives, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. 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 - Symptoms of shock following vaccines can include a slow heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and generalized weakness. You may also see a gray tongue and pale mucous membranes.

If your dog displays signs of anaphylaxis or shock, call your vet immediately or contact the emergency veterinary clinic closest to you.

What steps can be taken to treat reactions to pet vaccinations?

Fortunately, adverse reactions resulting from vaccinations can often be reversed with proper treatment, and your dog should recover very quickly.

  • If your dog's reaction is not life-threatening and confined to the skin, treatment is likely to include cortisone and/or antihistamines. 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.

Can reactions to dog and cat vaccinations be prevented?

Keeping your dog's shots up to date helps to protect your pet’s long-term health, and it's important to remember that the risk of having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low for most dogs.

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

There is a small increase in the risk of reactions to vaccines when multiple shots are given during 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.

Pet Vaccinations to Help Protect Cats & Dogs Across Deer Park

To keep common disorders and diseases from developing in the first place, we focus on preventive care. 

At Deer Park Animal Hospital, we combine regularly scheduled routine exams with pet vaccination and parasite prevention to form the foundation of your pet's routine healthcare. 

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.

Is it time for your dog's routine examination and vaccinations? Contact our Deer Park vets today to book an appointment for your furry friend.

New Patients Welcome

We are accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of companion animals in the Deer Park area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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