All veterinary procedures come with some level of risk, even pet vaccinations. Most of the time the benefits of giving your cat or dog vaccinations are worth the very small risk. In this post, our Rock Hill vets discuss the possible side effects of vaccines and what you should do if your pet experiences one.

Should I vaccinate My Pet?

Vaccinations are an important part of protecting your pet from serious and contagious diseases which could threaten the long-term health and well-being of your furry companion. In most situations, the benefits of giving your dog or cat vaccinations greatly outweigh the risk of your pet experiencing any side effects. Although, once in a while, some pets do have side effects.

How many pets have serious side effects from vaccines?

Veterinary procedures, including vaccinations, always carry some risk. However, the chances of your pet experiencing a serious side effect from a vaccine are extremely low. Although it can be frightening for pet owners whose adorable animal companion is affected.

An estimated 1-10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated will experience a serious side effect of a vaccine and 13 out of 10,000 dogs will have a reaction. This means that out of the 10,000 cats 9, 990 - 9,999 sail through the vaccine process, and 9987 dogs come out without any serious issues.

What kinds of side effects can pets get from shots?

The majority of vaccine side effects in dogs and cats are brief and generally mild, making them far less dangerous than the illnesses from which they are protected. Following are some of the most common side effects that pets experience after being vaccinated:

Lethargy & Slight Fever

  • The most common side effects of vaccines in pets are lethargy, a slight fever, and mild discomfort. This is characterized by your pet not acting like themselves. This is a common side effect of vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and last only one or two days. If your dog or cat isn't acting like themselves in a few days, consult your veterinarian.

Localized Swelling

  • In both cats and dogs, lumps and bumps are common side effects. A small, firm bump may form at the site where the needle pierced the skin. This is a normal reaction, but pet owners should keep an eye on the area to ensure that the lump does not grow larger or show signs of inflammation, oozing, or infection. The lump should not be painful and should go away in about a week. If the lump shows signs of infection or does not disappear after a week, contact your veterinarian.

Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms

  • While most vaccines for dogs and cats are administered via injection, some are administered via drops or sprays into the animal's eyes or nose. Intranasal vaccine side effects resemble a cold and include symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. These symptoms should pass in a day or two for your cat or dog. Contact your veterinarian if your pet does not improve within a few days or begins to exhibit more severe symptoms.

What serious side effects could my pet get from vaccines?

Most effects associated with the puppy and kitten shots are short-lived and mild however, in a few rare cases more severe reactions requiring immediate medical attention can occur.

Symptoms of a serious reaction will generally occur very quickly after the vaccine is given but could take up to 48 hours to appear. Signs of more severe side effects of dog and cat vaccinations include facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties.

Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction that pets can get from vaccinations. Anaphylaxis will typically occur in dogs and cats very soon after the vaccination has been given, but it's important to remember that anaphylaxis can appear up to 48 hours after the vaccine.

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

How can I prevent my pet from having a reaction to getting their shots?

Vaccines are an important part of protecting your cat or dog's overall health. The risk of your pet having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

If your furry companion has had a reaction to vaccines in the past, be sure to let your vet know. Your veterinarian might recommend skipping a specific vaccination in the future.

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

If your dog or cat is due for their shots contact our Rock Hill veterinary hospital to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about our pet vaccinations by visiting our website.