Overview of Canine Vaccine Reactions
Immunizations (or vaccines) are intended to stimulate the immune system so as to protect the dog from the infectious agent. However, this stimulation may cause some minor symptoms. Your dog may react to immunizations in ways that range from soreness at the site of injection to mild fever to allergic reactions, which can range from mild to severe.
Types of Vaccine Reactions in Dogs
Both anaphylaxis and urticaria are reactions that are triggered by antibodies that the immune system has made to some portion of the vaccine and usually requires at least one previous exposure to the vaccine. The antibodies cause inflammatory cells like basophils and mast cells to release substances that cause the allergic reaction. The impact on the dog may be life threatening but if treated successfully the prognosis for long-term health is good. Mild reactions usually resolve without treatment.
Diagnosis of Allergic Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs
There is no diagnostic test for anaphylaxis or urticaria, but a quick physical exam will show common signs of an allergic reaction and the history will reveal recent vaccination.
Treatment of Allergic Reaction to Vaccines in Dogs
Be sure to schedule vaccination appointments when you will be available to monitor your dog after the vaccine is administered. Be sure to call your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.
The good news is that severe vaccination reactions are rare. The risk of anaphylaxis and urticaria are much more rare than the benefit of the vaccine in most cases. You can limit vaccines to those that prevent diseases to which your dog may be exposed. Your veterinarian is the best judge of what vaccines are needed to protect against the diseases in your area.
Your veterinarian will record any adverse reactions to vaccines to help prevent those vaccines from being administered again. It is a good idea to also keep a record yourself. Reactions are more commonly associated with vaccines for leptospira, rabies and parvovirus.