The Irreverent Vet Speaks out on “Are Dog Vaccines Safe?”


Are vaccines safe?

This is a question commonly asked by dog lovers. And it is one that they often struggle with. Dog lovers want to do the right thing, protect their dog but at the same time minimize risk of problems to their dog.

I’d like to address this question. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian. I give you my opinion and speak the truth regardless of if pet owners or other veterinarians like it or not. I have no hidden agenda here.

So the question that I’ll address in this article is…”Are Dog Vaccines Safe”?

Are Dog Vaccines Safe?

This is a tough one. The answer is – most vaccines are safe and do way more good than harm. However, there are three types of reactions that can occur from vaccines. The first are mild reactions, the second are allergic reactions and the third is serious reactions that are associated with immune system problems


  • Mild Reactions – A small percentage of dogs will feel a little “sore” after their vaccines. This is the exception rather than the rule. Some dogs may run a low-grade fever or just feel a little tired. They may be less active, sleep more and eat slightly less than normal. This is temporary and they generally do fine. It is often hard to tell what of this behavior is from the vaccine or from the stress of going to the clinic to get the vaccine.
  • Allergic Reactions – Some reactions are mild causing itching, hives, swelling, temporary nausea, and others can be serous anaphylactic reactions that are life threatening. To be honest, I’ve never seen a dog die from an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Serious allergic type vaccine reactions in dogs are rare. I have seen several dogs with hives and facial swelling that is secondary to a vaccine that do well with minimal treatment.
  • Immune System Associated Reactions – Some dogs may develop what is called an “Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia“. This is an uncommon condition in which the immune system somehow becomes stimulated to destroy the bodies’ own red cells. This is a complex disease and no one really knows the underlying cause. Vaccines are one possible theory as well as many other theories. Many dogs develop this disease without any recent history of vaccination. However, this disease is very serious and life threatening.

    No one knows for sure why it occurs – but it is thought that post-vaccine immune stimulation may occur as a consequence of an overzealous immune system reaction to the vaccine. Regardless, they are life-threatening and awful.


My Final Thoughts – Are Vaccines Safe?

This is what I believe. The answer is – most vaccines are safe and do way more good than harm if used properly. I do not recommend OVER-VACCINATING dogs. I think that most adult dogs don’t need yearly shots (unless required by law such as Rabies vaccine). I think that each dog should be regarded relative to their risk and ONLY the vaccines that truly protect them should be given.

What are your thoughts? Email me


The Politically Incorrect Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can’t say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another view. All opinions are those of the Politically Incorrect Vet and not the views of and are not endorsed by