Dog Reactions to Vaccines

A veterinarian explains what you should know about the unwanted side effects of vaccinations for dogs.


Q. Can vaccines make my dog sick?

Leslie Sinclair, DVMLeslie Sinclair, DVM says: Yes, despite the enormous good they do, vaccines can have unwanted effects. Any dog can have an allergic reaction to a vaccine. The reaction usually occurs within a few minutes to hours after vaccination, and symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to swelling around face and head (hives) to shock. Emergency treatment may be necessary to save the dogs life. Another condition that vaccination can trigger is autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA). It occurs when, for any number of reasons, your dogs immune system turns on itself, and mistakenly begins to devour the red blood cells in her bloodstream. Vaccination is only one possible cause of AIHA, which can occur in dogs, humans, and other species. Most cases of AIHA respond successfully to medical treatment. Be sure to consullt your veterinarian about other causes of AIHA.

Vaccination is one of the most effective methods we have for protecting dogs, although rare adverse reactions do occur. Its important that you and your veterinarian carefully discuss which vaccines are truly necessary, and the benefits and drawbacks of vaccination.

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Reprinted from Ask the Vet About Dogs, by Leslie Sincliar, DVM © 2003. Permission granted by BowTie Press.


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Edd   Pines, North Carolina

6/15/2015 8:24:57 AM

My 1st Chihuahua went into shock after the 1st adult vaccine. No problem with all three Chihuahua receiving puppy shots. Was told never to vaccinate again as the 2nd time dog would probably die. The 2nd annual adult vaccine, my 2nd Chihuahua went into shock. Like the 1st Chi he almost died within minutes after receiving the shot. After that, I didn't want to take any chances and haven't taken them in for boosters for the last 8 years. I do give them the rabies shot and so far no reaction there. I tried to file a report regarding the shots that require my vets signature. I wanted it out there that there was something wrong with the shots. Well, my vet refused to sign it to submit to the CDC. I wonder how many dogs out there are reacting to these vaccinations.

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Laurie   Aiken, South Carolina

3/13/2015 8:44:36 AM

Took my 6 year old in for her Rarotonga and distemper the next evening she came on my lap sprat red to pet her and noticed her head above her eyes were baled she rubbed of the hair I ct the top knot off almost all the hair was gone. Took her to the vet he gave her a steroid and Benadryl ,next day fever and noo better poor baby under her belly her bum all purple red with bumps back at the vet hopefully this two more meds will help no more vaccines for ever.

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Linda   norman, Oklahoma

2/8/2015 9:55:38 AM

Thursday may dog was placed under anesthesia for teeth cleaning and given her scheduled vaccinations. Friday she seemed okay, a little tired but still willing to go for walk and ate a little. Saturday we had an all day outing and she drank water well... seemed normal on walk. Sunday she is stiff while walking, not eating or drinking, lethargic yet responsive and her ears are done flat against her head. Could this be a delayed reaction... or did we overdo it yesterday? Should I give her benadryl? ASA?

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Carran   Midland, Texas

10/4/2014 4:19:27 PM

I have read numerous articles on giving dogs broth and they have all said any broth made from store bought cubes or powder is not good for our dogs. Onions are very bad for dogs and all store broth has onions in them along with garlic. Garlic can be bad on their digestive systems. I do not give them broth anymore unless I make it.

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