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Vaccine Reactions in Dogs: Everything You Should Know

Vaccinating your dog has many potential life-saving benefits. That said, some dogs do have a reaction to the vaccines. Our Leighton vets will discuss the most common reactions to vaccines in dogs, and what to do if your dog has a reaction.

Should I Get My Dog Vaccinated?

Yes, you should get your dog vaccinated. By making sure your dog is vaccinated you provide them with the best chance at a long, healthy life. Diseases such as rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus can be very serious and even fatal. Vaccines prevent these diseases from developing which is preferable to treating them once they exist in your pet.

Which Vaccines Does My Dog Need?

Your vet will be able to advise you on which immunizations are suitable for your dog while taking into consideration the risk factors facing your dog based on your dog's breed, age, and lifestyle.

What are Common Reactions to Vaccines for Dogs?

For loving dog owners, seeing their pet have a reaction to vaccines can be upsetting but it's important to keep in mind that most reactions are mild and short-lived. Knowing what signs of a reaction to look for and what you should do if your dog has a reaction can help to make the vaccination process less stressful for both you and your dog.


The most common reaction dogs have to getting vaccinated is a general feeling of lethargy and discomfort, with a mild fever. This reaction is your dog's immune system responding to the vaccine appropriately. These mild symptoms 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

Lumps and bumps can be a common reaction to vaccinations in dogs. Following the vaccination, a small, firm bump may develop at the spot where the needle was injected into the skin or muscle, leaving the area somewhat tender. These bumps develop due to your dog's immune system rushing to resolve the localized irritation at the site.

Any time that the skin is punctured there is a chance of infection. Keep an eye on the site where the injection was given. Look for signs of swelling, redness, discharge and pain. If you notice the area becoming increasingly red or showing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

The Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus vaccines are administered by drops or sprays into the dog's nose and can result in reactions that can look much like a cold, and include coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. Most dogs recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If your dog is showing more severe symptoms or does not recover within a couple of days, call your vet.

Serious Reactions to Vaccinations

Most reactions associated with vaccines are short-lived and mild. In a few rare cases, more severe reactions can occur and require immediate medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction characterized by facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. Anaphylaxis normally 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.

How to Minimize Reactions in Dogs

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.

If your dog has had a previous reaction to a vaccine, it is important to inform your veterinarian. Your vet may adjust the vaccination schedule or brand of vaccine.

The risk of reactions to vaccinations increases somewhat when multiple vaccinations are given at one time. 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.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet. 

Time to vaccinate your dog? Do you have questions about your dog's vaccination? Visit All Animal Clinic to discuss your concerns.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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