My Puppy Needs Her Vaccinations But I’m Worried...

Yay! You have a new puppy! She’s adorable. You’re thrilled to have her in your family and her health is your first priority. This means taking her to the veterinarian for a check-up and probably some vaccinations (unless she’s up-to-date).

Before we go on to discuss vaccinations for puppies, we need to include a disclaimer here. This article is not designed to be a substitute for professional veterinary help. The purpose of this article is simply to help you understand vaccinations. And, make you more comfortable in making your decision of whether to vaccinate.

When you’re considering vaccinations for your freshly adopted, furry family member, you may be nervous or scared of reactions to vaccines. That’s perfectly understandable.

There are risks and benefits as with everything else. In this article, we’ll discuss adverse reactions/allergic reactions to vaccinations, what to do if you notice a reaction, and the pros and cons of vaccinating.

What Is an Adverse or Allergic Reaction?

The USDA, who licenses veterinary vaccines, describes an adverse reaction as any event that’s undesirable or unintended. Adverse reactions are those reactions which cause a negative effect to your dog’s health. This also includes failure of a vaccination where your dog’s body doesn’t reaction to the vaccine thus leaving her unprotected.

No Side Effects, Mild Side Effects, and Severe Side Effects

First, we’ll discuss the risks to the vaccinations.

Vaccines are generally considered to be safe, so you should just expect your puppy to be her normal happy self.

But, just as a precaution, we want to educate you on all possibilities.

‘No side effects’ is what is most commonly seen. Just like when you have received your vaccines as a child, you probably didn’t notice any changes in your health.

To the same extent, your dog’s behavior and health should not change following her vaccinations. If your dog is feeling a bit under the weather (sore and sleepy), that’s generally nothing to worry about as this effect only lasts a short period of time.

Mild Side Effects from Vaccinations

This is less common than ‘no side effects,’ but if your dog is experiencing mild side effects, you may notice a decrease in his physical activity and a little swelling where the vaccine was injected.

Keep in mind your dog’s body is fighting an invasion in an effort to create antibodies. Basically, the vaccination is injecting soldiers into our dog’s body. Our soldiers fight the soldiers the vaccine brought in. So, swelling is generally considered normal.

For example, the ‘soldier’ in the rabies vaccine is actually the rabies virus… the killed rabies virus.

After the vaccination, your dog’s immune system wakes up to make antibodies to the killed rabies virus (the foreign soldiers) so that if it ever sees it again, your dog has protective immunity. In essence, there will be no war because the war was already won by your dog’s own soldiers.

If your dog is experiencing soreness, swelling, or fatigue from the vaccines, you should see this disappear after a day or two.

When You Should Worry and Call Your Vet

There can be serious reactions to vaccinations, but these are highly uncommon. Still worth discussing though just in case, right? Better to be safe than sorry.

If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian isn’t open, contact an emergency veterinarian near you.

·       Continuous vomiting (if your dog can’t hold anything down)

·       Continuous diarrhea

·       Inability to stand or lack of consciousness (falling over, fainting)

·       Any swelling on your dog’s muzzle, face, or eyes. The swelling may look like puffy eyes squinted eyes, and/or a ‘swollen’ appearance to your dog’s head

·       Any type of rash or hives

·       Difficulty breathing

All the above reactions could be due to an allergic reaction to the vaccines and can occur anywhere from minutes to hours following the visit to your vet.

The signs of a severe reaction are easily noticeable. The moment you notice any of these reactions, don’t panic as your dog can feel your emotions, but contact your veterinarian immediately.

If your puppy is one who has experienced a reaction and you’d hoped to have her vaccinated, the veterinarian usually has other options available.

If your puppy does experience a reaction, stay positive. Your veterinarian will have other options for you in the future to keep your puppy protected. These can include individualized booster vaccines tailored to your dog’s lifestyle, providing anti-inflammatories and/or observation for the next round of vaccines, and more.

The Good of Vaccinations

The good is obvious. Your dog is less likely (or has close to zero chance) of contracting the virus she is vaccinated against. Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, etc.

This may seem as if it’s not really a big deal after discussing all the risks. But, just think about if your dog were to contract one of the conditions vaccinations protect them against.

If your dog were to contract rabies from let’s say, a raccoon, he would experience paralysis of the throat, jaw muscles, foaming at the mouth, lack of coordination, paralysis of his hind legs, seizures, and the list goes on. That would be terrible. And, that’s only one condition out of the list.

When it comes to vaccinating your puppy, the benefits generally outweigh the risks. After your pup is vaccinated, he will be protected from a list of preventable dangerous diseases, thanks to you.

But, before you make any decisions for your dog, make sure you’re educated. Learn as much as possible about your dog’s health and how vaccinations could impact it. Discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian. Every dog is different.