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Cat & Dog Vaccine Side Effects and What You Should Know

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 Argyle 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 to vaccines?

There are always risks associated with veterinary procedures including vaccinations. However, the risk of your pet experiencing a serious side effect to a vaccine is very small. Although it can be frightening for those pet owners whose adorable animal companion does experience an effect.

An estimated 1-10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated will experience a serious side effect to 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 the side effects dogs and cats get from vaccines are short in duration and generally mild making them far less dangerous than the illnesses the vaccinations protect them from. Following we have listed some of the most common side effects pets get after being vaccinated:

Lethargy & Slight Fever

  • Lethargy, a slight fever, and some mild discomfort are the most common side effects pets get from vaccines. This can be characterized by your pet not acting like their usual self. This is a normal reaction to vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and only last one or two days. If your dog or cat isn't acting like themselves in a couple of days, call your vet for advice.

Localized Swelling

  • Lumps and bumps are common side effects in both cats and dogs. Sometimes a small, firm bump will develop at the spot where the needle pierced the skin. This is a normal response however pet owners should monitor the area to make sure that the lump doesn't get bigger or display signs of inflammation, oozing, or infection. The lump shouldn't be painful and should gradually disappear in about a week. If the lump shows signs of infection or hasn't gone away after a week has passed contact your veterinarian.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

  • While most of the vaccines recommended for dogs and cats are administered by injection some are given by drops or sprays into the animal's eyes or nose. Side effects to intranasal vaccines look a lot like a cold and include symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Your cat or dog should recover from these symptoms in a day or two. If your pet doesn't get better within a couple of days or starts showing more severe symptoms, contact your vet.

What serious side effects could my pet get from vaccines?

Most effects associated with 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 to 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 future.

In smaller dogs, the risk of having a reaction to vaccines is increased when multiple vaccinations are given at once. If your pup is a small or miniature breed dog, your vet might suggest getting your puppy's shots done over the course of several days rather than all at the same time.

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

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(940) 464-3231