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Vaccine Reactions in Dogs & Cats

Any veterinary medical procedure carries a certain amount of risk. In most cases, however, the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to vaccinations. Our Flat Rock veterinarians discuss some common reactions pets have to vaccinations, as well as what to do if your pet reacts to their shots.

Why should I get my pet vaccinated?

Vaccinations are crucial in preventing your pet from contracting serious contagious diseases that could jeopardize his or her long-term health. Vaccinating your cat or dog usually outweighs the risk of your pet having an adverse reaction to the vaccines. However, some animals do react to their vaccinations.

How many pets have serious reactions to vaccines?

Veterinary medical procedures, including vaccinations, are always associated with some inherent risks. However, there is a very small chance that your dog or cat will have a serious reaction to vaccines. Nonetheless, for pet parents whose beloved pet does react, it can be a very distressing experience.

It is estimated that between 1-10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated will experience a serious reaction to the vaccines. This means that out of those 10,000 between 9, 990 - 9,999 sail through the process without any serious issues.

What kinds of side effects from vaccinations can dogs and cats have?

The majority of vaccine reactions in pets are mild, short-lived, and far less dangerous than the illnesses that vaccines protect against. Some of the most common reactions that cats and dogs have to vaccinations are listed below:

Lethargy & Slight Fever

  • Lethargy, some mild discomfort, and a slight fever are the most common reactions pets have to vaccines. This can be characterized by your cat acting strange after vaccination or just not acting like its usual self. Or your dog having trouble walking after their shots. This is a normal reaction to vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and only last a day or two. If your dog or cat isn't back to behaving like their usual self within a couple of days, contact your vet for advice.

Localized swelling

  • Vaccination-induced lumps and bumps are common in both dogs and cats. Frequently, a small, firm bump will form where the needle pierced the skin. This is a normal reaction, but pet parents should keep an eye on the bump to make sure it doesn't get bigger or show signs of inflammation, infection, or oozing. The lump should not be painful and will fade away over about a week. Contact your veterinarian if the lump appears to be infected or if it hasn't gone away after a week.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

  • While the majority of vaccines for dogs and cats are given via injection, some are given via drops or sprays into the pet's nose or eyes. Intranasal vaccine reactions resemble a cold, with symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Within a day or two, your pet should be free of these symptoms. Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat does not recover within a few days or has more severe symptoms.

What serious reactions could my cat or dog have to vaccines?

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

Symptoms of a serious reaction usually appear shortly after the vaccine is administered, but they can take up to 48 hours to appear. Facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties are all signs of a more severe vaccination reaction.

The most severe allergic reaction that pets can have to vaccinations is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis in dogs and cats usually occurs shortly after the vaccination, but it's important to remember that anaphylaxis can occur up to 48 hours after the vaccination.

If your pet shows symptoms of anaphylaxis following their vaccinations, call your vet immediately or contact your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

How can I prevent my pet from reacting to getting their shots?

Vaccines play an essential role in protecting your pet's overall health. The risk of your cat or dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

If your pet has had a reaction to vaccines in the past, be sure to let your vet know. Your veterinarian may recommend that you skip a particular vaccination in the future.

When multiple vaccinations are given at the same time to smaller dogs, the risk of a vaccine reaction is increased. If your dog is a small or miniature breed, your veterinarian may recommend getting his or her shots spread out over several days rather than all at once.

Is it time for your pet to have their annual vaccinationsContact our office today to book an appointment for your cat or dog.

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Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Boulder County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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