It’s no surprise why so many people hate their annual flu shots – they’re uncomfortable, can be time-consuming, and unless you anticipate being around a bunch of sick people, they may seem unnecessary. However, those potentially unpleasant aspects don’t mean that people shouldn’t get vaccinations – It’s easy to understand all the benefits they offer, and they help keep other humans around us safe from illness and disease as well.
Dogs, while very intelligent and loving, don’t necessarily grasp this concept of self-insurance and the greater good. They rely on their human owners to make sure they get what’s best for them, and that means up-to-date vaccinations. In most states, dog parents are required to get, at a minimum, a current canine rabies vaccine for their pup. They often opt for additional vaccines to protect against deadly ailments like canine parvo virus, sometimes called “kennel cough”, as well – it seldom makes the visit any longer and it gives them peace of mind for their dog’s overall health.
Can Vaccines Hurt My Dog?
In short? No. In a little more depth? Technically, but it’s highly unlikely.
Vaccinations are a hot-button issue in the news when it comes to children, and all of that discussion can make even the most level-headed dog owner a little nervous. Sure, vaccines help if there’s ever an exposure to a deadly disease, but can they hurt a dog when they’re injected or inhaled? Being concerned about substances being injected into your four-footed companion is not only natural, it’s a huge part of being a responsible pet parent. Thankfully, vaccines are largely safe, with benefits that far outweigh the minimal risks they have a chance of carrying.
You may feel empathy when your pooch is getting a needle or a dose of intranasal (inhaled through the nose) vaccine, but it’s a routine medical procedure. In fact, with injected vaccines, the vet typically numbs the area with a cream to prevent discomfort before the needle. Dogs also have tough skin, as it needs to support coarse fur and isn’t constantly covered with cloth the way our skin is. Larger, heavily-coated breeds in particularly might not even feel the pinch of a needle if they’re skillfully distracted during the shot.
Possible Dog Vaccination Side Effects: Discuss With Your Vet
After a canine vaccine is administered, there is a small chance that your dog can have side effects from components in the vaccine. This is an important distinction, because it isn’t so much that the vaccine itself is dangerous, any more than peanut butter is dangerous to the average person, but rather the way a dog interacts with vaccine ingredients. Just like peanut butter can lead to anaphylaxis for human individuals with peanut allergies, individual canine vaccine patients with high sensitivity and allergy can have an extremely adverse reaction to an otherwise harmless substance. Therefore, the best way to prevent injuries from these potential interactions is by having a discussion with your vet before your dog’s vaccination appointment.
Preparing for a Dog Vaccination: FAQs For Pet Parents
When it’s time for your dog to get his vaccination, try to make the trip out an enjoyable one for your dog. You don’t want to have to drag him into the car the next time you need to head to the vet! Walk through these helpful frequently-asked questions with your veterinarian or their support staff at the clinic to feel more confident about the vaccination process:
Q: How Often Should I Vaccinate My Dog?
A: Provided your dog has no adverse reaction to vaccination ingredients the first time around, schedule a follow-up appointment. Do it even if it’s months or years in the future – provided your vet office can do that, of course. This will trigger an appointment reminder, a postcard, or a call from your vet’s office to remind you of the impending “booster shot” timing.
Q: Does my dog’s particular size or breed affect the way this vaccine works?
A: Side effects such as canine lethargy, lack of appetite or vomiting in dogs can become serious for smaller animals much more quickly than their larger counterparts. Additionally, certain traits like brachycephalic (“smooshed in”) noses on breeds like pugs can make steady breathing a challenge if there is any respiratory distress as a result of a bad vaccine reaction. If your dog has a particularly thick or tangled coat that will make it difficult to keep an eye on him post-vaccine visit, you might consider booking a grooming appointment beforehand just to be on the safe side. Much like humans, the color and quality of the skin (paw pads) and face (nose) will tell you quickly if anything’s “off” in your canine companion.
Q: Is my dog on any medication that could cause a reaction?
A: When you go to your family doctor, one of the first steps of check-in is a question about all of the medications that you’re currently taking. This is also crucial for canine medical care – even two harmless medications could have a harmful reaction if administered together without proper care. Be sure to list off any and all medications, including medical canine “treats” like joint supplements, before your doctor administers your dog’s vaccine.
Q: Can my dog be left alone at X time?
A: While we’d love to spend all day with our beloved furry family members, obligations like work unfortunately pull us away. Ask your vet if it is safe to leave your dog home alone, or in his crate, after his appointment. If not, ask them how long your pup should stay in view for safety’s sake – this will help you plan your day a little more easily and arrange for alternative caregivers if need be.
Q: Can my dog participate in X activity?
A: Depending on your dog’s overall health, your vet may want to limit his physical activity and association with other animals for a day or two while his body adjusts to the vaccine. This is normal and a great way to ensure your dog is getting the best protection from his shot. If you have multiple pets in the home, set up a quiet, comfortable, isolated area for your pup post-vaccination to keep his stress levels at a minimum.
Q: How can I help my dog through the vaccination process?
A: Ask your vet directly what you can do to help your canine companion through the vaccination process. Pet him softly and reassuringly while the shot is being administered, or keep a hand on his side throughout the examination and vaccine administration to ensure he feels supported and safe. Afterwards, be sure to follow your vet’s instructions and precautions to the letter to avoid well-meaning accidents.
What To Expect After Your Dog Has Received A Vaccination
The most serious, though rare, complication from a dog vaccine would cause anaphylaxis, a sudden swelling of the throat and nose tissues. Thankfully, if your dog is one of the rare ones that is allergic to a vaccine ingredient, he will begin showing obvious distress before you even leave the vet’s office. Other symptoms, however, can be a little trickier. Watch for: