The benefits of having your dog vaccinated typically far outweigh the risk of reactions to the vaccines. That said, some dogs do react to getting their shots. Here's more from our White Settlement vets on the most common reactions to vaccines in dogs, and what to do if your dog reacts.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated?

Ensuring your dog's vaccinations are administered early in life and consistently as adults is crucial for their long-term health and well-being. Pet owners can face significant costs and even the loss of their pets due to illnesses like rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus. Puppies are particularly vulnerable to these diseases, which can be fatal. Vaccinating against these diseases is always better than treating your pet after they have already shown symptoms.

Typically the risk of your dog having a severe reaction to a vaccine is very low, and in most cases well worth the risk. 

Does my dog need all the available vaccines?

Your vet will consider the risk factors facing your dog based on your dog's breed, age, and lifestyle, then advise you on which immunizations are suitable for your dog. 

What are the most common reactions to vaccines in dogs?

Adverse reactions are always a possibility with medical procedures, including vaccinations. It can be distressing for pet owners to witness how their beloved pet reacts to vaccinations. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that most reactions are mild and temporary. To make the vaccination process less stressful for you and your dog, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of a reaction and know how to respond if your dog shows any.


After receiving their vaccinations, dogs often experience lethargy and discomfort. It is common for them to have a mild fever as well. This feeling is often described with the word "off."Your dog's immune system is working effectively and responding appropriately to the vaccine. These minor symptoms will pass in just a day or two. If your dog doesn't start feeling better within a few days, make sure to reach out to your veterinarian.

Lumps & Bumps

Dogs often experience lumps and bumps as a result of vaccinations, similar to feeling unwell. After receiving the vaccination, you may notice a small, firm bump at the injection site. This can make the area feel tender. Your dog's immune system quickly responds to the irritation, causing these bumps to form.

Sneezing & Cold-Like Symptoms

Most vaccines are given through injections, but the Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus vaccines are different. They are administered by drops or sprays directly into the dog's nose. These vaccines can cause symptoms similar to a cold, such as coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose. These symptoms usually resolve within a day or two for most dogs. If your dog experiences more severe symptoms or fails to recover within a few days, it is advisable to seek veterinary assistance.

Serious Reactions To Vaccinations

While most dog vaccine reactions are mild and short-lived, our canine companions can have more severe reactions that require immediate medical attention in rare cases.

Anaphylaxis - This severe allergic reaction can involve facial swelling, diarrhea, itchiness, hives, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. This type of severe reaction will usually occur very soon after your pet receives the injection, (typically while you are still at the vet's office) but can happen up to 48 hours after the vaccine is given.

Shock - The symptoms of shock following vaccines can include a slow heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and generalized weakness. You may also see a gray tongue and pale mucous membranes.

Can I prevent my dog from reacting? 

Vaccines help to protect the long-term health of your dog, and the risk of your dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

That said, if your dog has had a previous reaction to a vaccine, it is important to inform your veterinarian. Your vet may advise you to skip a particular vaccination in the future.

Administering multiple vaccinations at once slightly increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations. This can be a particular concern for smaller dogs. Consider spreading out your dog's vaccinations over a few days instead of administering them all at once. This can help reduce the likelihood of any negative reactions.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

To learn more about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for your dog, contact our White Settlement vets today to book an appointment.