Vaccines save thousands of canine lives every year. Vaccines are so effective at preventing disease, some states actually require dogs be vaccinated against specific diseases, such as rabies. Even the most effective vaccines can have side effects. It is important to watch you dog for signs of pain or discomfort after he has been vaccinated.
How Vaccines Work
Vaccines work by injecting a small portion of weakened or killed virus into your dog's body so that his immune system can react to the disease and build up antibodies against it. The antibodies that are produced will protect your dog from becoming sick if he comes into contact with a real, live strain of the same virus. Most vaccines have to be given annually, though some can be given every other year.
Vaccine Side Effects
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is normal for your dog to experience mild side effects after his yearly vaccinations. Side effects that the AVMA considers normal include discomfort or soreness at the injection site, swelling at the injection site, fever, lethargy and a loss of appetite. The AVMA says that these symptoms probably will begin shortly after the vaccination is given and should disappear within a day or two.
Causes For Concern
Some dogs suffer from relatively severe vaccination side effects. If your dog still seems sore several days after the infection, develops any hard lumps under his skin near the injection site or shows signs of infection at the injection site, you need to seek additional veterinary treatment for your pet.
Treating Injection Site Soreness
If your dog has a history of behaving as if he is sore after he receives his vaccines, talk to your veterinarian about your aftercare options. Your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog a small amount of aspirin or another pet-safe painkiller to help combat the soreness. You also may be advised to put a cold compress on the injection site to help alleviate soreness and swelling at the site.
- New York State Department of Health: How do Vaccines Work?
- All Pets Veterinary Clinic: The Vaccination Debate
- Pet Finder: Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
- ASPCA: Vaccinations
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Vaccinations What to Expect after Your Pet's Vaccination
- 2nd Chance: Vaccination and Vaccine Reactions in Dogs and Cats
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.