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How to administer a vaccine to a dog

Though discouraged by many veterinarians, there are a few things you should consider before choosing to vaccinate your own dog (or cat). First, any animal can have an adverse reaction to any vaccine. The probability is small, but if it happens, your pet could be in big trouble — fast! To see an actual case of a vaccine induced urticarial reaction in a Dachshund, look here.

Adverse reactions from vaccinations are rare but do happen. The worst case scenario occurs when the dog or cat has what is termed an anaphylactic reaction. These hypersensitivity reactions cause a number of physiologic disturbances within the body that result in low blood pressure, slow heart rate and depressed breathing rate. Because the brain is starved for oxygen due to the low blood pressure, unconsciousness can occur.

In thirty years of vaccinating pets nearly every day (over 200,000 doses administered!) I have witnessed three of these anaphylactic reactions. They are very scary and require immediate life-saving measures to prevent an unpleasant outcome.

Fortunately for my three patients the reactions occurred right there in the animal hospital and I was able to reverse the shock. Had these reactions occurred at someone’s home where no anti-shock medications and fluids were immediately available, those three pets would certainly not survived.

Some animal hospitals will sell vaccine to breeders, physicians and nurses, and other pet owners who wish to vaccinate their own pets. A release form may be required to be read and signed prior to selling vaccines. (NOT including Rabies vaccine. This is always administered by a veterinarian and should never be sold or distributed to anyone for use by someone other than a licensed veterinarian.)

Read the sample release form below and you will have a better appreciation for the variables that you should be aware of prior to making the decision to vaccinate your own dog (or cat).

Release Form – Vaccinations

I have read and understand the following (9) points relative to vaccinating my own animal(s). I fully accept all responsibility for the use and effects of the vaccine(s).

Date:
Name:
Vaccine:
1. A severe, life-threatening anaphylactic reaction can occur after a vaccination. The reaction may require rapid medical intervention to save the animal’s life.
2. Improper handling of vaccines or syringes can result in infections at the injection site as well as post-vaccine fibromas.
3. If a vaccine intended for subcutaneous administration is accidentally delivered intravenously, or an intra-nasal vaccine given parenterally, a life-threatening reaction may occur.
4. The vaccine may not be effective for any of the following reasons:
(a) It is outdated
(b) Left unrefrigerated too long
(c) Mixed with diluent and then not promptly administered
(d) The syringe has residue or contaminants in it
(e) Alcohol is swabbed on the skin prior to vaccinating
(f) Vaccine is exposed to sunlight, heat, or freezing
9. The proper route of administration is important. If the vaccine is administered in the skin rather than under the skin when the subcutaneous route is indicated or if given in or under the skin when the intra-muscular route is indicated . the vaccine may not be effective in inducing immunity.
5. Some brands of vaccines are more effective than others.
6. No vaccine manufacturer guarantees that every animal vaccinated will produce protective antibody. There is a wide range of responses possible to each vaccination.
7. If you vaccinate your own animal for rabies, state public health and law enforcement officials do not recognize your vaccination as valid. You and the animal will be treated as if NO rabies vaccine was administered. To be recognized as a legal and valid vaccination, Rabies vaccine must be administered by a currently licensed veterinarian in accordance with established state protocol.
8. If you vaccinate someone else’s animal and they pay you for the favor, you are considered by state statutes to be in violation of the law. Only a licensed veterinarian may legally receive a fee for administering vaccinations.
9. Syringes and needles are considered hazardous waste and may be disposed of only in accordance with local or state regulations. They may NOT be disposed of with ordinary garbage nor in a landfill.

As your pet’s primary guardian you must make an informed decision whether or not to vaccinate your own pet or to have your veterinarian do it in a medical environment. There are many advantages for you and your pet to have the vaccines administered within an animal hospital setting — from a record keeping standpoint, physical examination by the veterinarian prior to vaccination, convenience of picking up medications and supplies, being updated by the animal hospital staff about new products and procedures, and the availability of life saving medications in the event that an anaphylactic reaction results from a vaccine injection.

Opinions differ over the necessity of some dog vaccinations and the timeframe for vaccinating your dog. Consult your vet about your dog’s vaccinations.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) made headlines in 2003 when it published its vaccination recommendations. It suggested that a few vaccines are absolutely necessary, but some are only required in unique circumstances, and others should not be given at all.

The AAHA also recommended moving the “annual” vaccine to every three years. In 2006 they reconfirmed these recommendations.

The AAHA panel agreed that four core vaccines should be administered to every dog:

  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Adenovirus

The AAHA assigned parainfluenza, bordetella, and Lyme disease to the noncore group. These are only to be used where exposure to the disease is likely.

If this weren’t controversial enough, they stated that some vaccines are not recommended. For example, too few dogs succumb to coronavirus to justify vaccination. Even when the disease does occur, it is mild and self-limiting.

Leptospiral vaccines have a low efficacy (less than 75 percent), and most do not provide protection against the strains that currently cause disease in dogs. Giardia vaccines are also not endorsed by the AAHA. Though they may prevent shedding of the organism in the urine, they do not prevent infection.

Frequency of revaccination has been a hot topic for several years. The requirement for rabies has not changed. They are usually given once to puppies, boosted a year later, and then administered every three years.

The distemper combination vaccines are different. Some veterinarians are uncomfortable extending the vaccine interval past the traditional one year. Others embrace the AAHA recommendation to give the vaccine every three years.

Protection from bordetella only lasts 9 to 12 months, so it should be done annually or more often if there is a high risk (such as attending dog parks or doggie day cares).

Vaccine reactions! They are such a scary event. In fact, vaccination-induced reactions create anxiety not only for the pet owner but the patient and veterinarian too.

Here is one example of a dog with a vaccine reaction to a rabies vaccine. The vaccine was manufactured by a reputable and professional veterinary pharmaceutical company and administered subcutaneously as recommended. Twelve months prior to the rabies vaccine given in this example, the dog (a three-year-old Dachshund) was vaccinated with a multivalent vaccine containing Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Corona, and Parvovirus antigens. A mild reaction occurred to that vaccine administration. It is unknown to which fraction of that vaccine the dog reacted.

Prior to this incident, the owners were fully informed about potential vaccine reactions and what to do if another one occurred. They requested a rabies vaccine only (they decided against giving further multivalent vaccinations) in order to conform to local ordinances and to ensure against possible infection from rabies due to the abundant wildlife present in the dog’s environment. The vaccine was administered after a discussion of potential good and undesirable effects of a vaccine.

Two hours after the Rabies vaccine was administered the dog was readmitted for itching and head-shaking, and the presence of “hives” on the dog’s face and head. These eruptions on the skin, called an urticarial reaction, are rounded swollen raised areas of skin tissue that have responded locally to the administration of a substance to which the dog is allergic.

Hives are caused when the body releases histamine from a cell called a mast cell. The histamine then causes leaking of fluid into the surrounding body tissues from the small blood vessels and stimulates the nearby nerve endings producing the itching sensation. The dog was breathing normally but was uncomfortable. Fortunately, the vast majority of vaccine reactions in the dog are similar to this case where the targeted tissue is the skin.

Though rare, the tracheal, laryngeal and bronchial tissues can swell, causing a constricted, spastic airway and breathing difficulties — all of which can have life-threatening consequences.

Click on an image below to see a full-sized view

Treatment for Vaccine Reactions

For non-life-threatening reactions such as are confined to the skin, antihistamines and cortisone are generally completely and rapidly helpful. In severe cases where immediate relief from life-threatening distress is appropriate, epinephrine may be administered by a veterinarian.

Shock is also seen with some vaccine-induced reactions where the patient’s heart rate is slowed, blood pressure drops and the patient weakens and will collapse. Pale mucus membranes and grayish appearing tongue also are evident.

These cases of vaccine-induced shock can be very dangerous and often require immediate medical assistance. They usually occur immediately after a vaccine is administered and the patient becomes distressed while still in the veterinarian’s office.

Trained personnel will administer appropriate intravenous fluids and medications to restore vital signs and assist with the patient’s recovery. Epinephrine and cortisone are also administered in most cases. Fortunately, the adverse reactions due to vaccines are often reversed after proper treatment—sometimes even in a brief amount of time.

Revaccination

Revaccination with the same substances after any post-vaccine episode may result in one of the following three situations:

No evidence of any inappropriate reaction or adverse effects and the animal will increase its immunity to the disease(s) for which it is being protected.

A similar vaccine-induced reaction to the original reaction.

A more severe and potentially fatal vaccine-induced reaction.

As you can see it is extremely important to consider the risks versus benefits topic with your veterinarian whenever a vaccine is administered. When a reaction does occur, revaccinated for the same diseases may be hazardous.

When legally mandated by your county, you can ask your veterinarian to be an advocate on behalf of you and your pet and write a statement on animal hospital letterhead stating that the animal has the potential for a life-threatening reaction to another dose of vaccine.

Great question! It’s one I almost never get asked. Rather, I’m often told I must administer only half the recommended dose (one cc) because that’s what the breeder, friend, relative, or Dr. Google says veterinarians should do. Which almost invariably makes most veterinarians roll their eyes…

…because everyone knows that the drug companies perform extensive tests on Great Danes and Chihuahuas and everything in between so that it’s crystal clear who needs what and why. Right?

Well … not exactly…

Truth be told, there’s only so much testing a biological (vaccine) manufacturer can be reasonably expected to undertake. Mostly, they need only to prove their vaccine is safe and effective in the species for which the vaccine is intended. The fact that extreme variation within the species exists, however, throws a significant monkey wrench into the works.

So it is that most canine vaccines are tested on “average” dogs. And average dogs are well … average sized. They’re not usually Yorkies, Maltese, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, or any other sub-ten-pound breed or breed-mix.

Which is perhaps why a greater percentage of small dogs suffer vaccine reactions. Here’s a detailed explanation from a 2005 study on this which appeared in JAVMA:

The risk of a VAAE (vaccine-associated adverse events) in this study population was inversely related to a dog’s weight. This weight-response relationship was previously suggested by results of a [2002] study in which dogs of toy breeds had significantly more suspected VAAEs than other dogs, although body weight was not evaluated. The manufacturers’ recommended dose for all vaccines administered in our study was 1 mL regardless of body weight, and all vaccines were from single-dose vials. Vaccines, in contrast to virtually all veterinary pharmaceuticals, are prescribed on a 1-dose-fits-all basis, rather than by body weight. Prelicensing clinical trials investigate the safety of vaccines with doses in excess of label directions but only in a limited number of dogs. The results of this study suggest that trials in dogs that weigh > 10 kg underestimate the expected VAAE rate in smaller dogs.

Prelicensing clinical trials also investigate the safety of vaccines in several hundred dogs at multiple hospital locations, but specific breeds may be under- or overrepresented. Mature weights of dogs of different breeds may vary by 5 to 10 times and occasionally by > 50 times. Therefore, a 1-mL vaccine dose results in a ratio of vaccine volume received per kilogram of body weight that can vary widely.

Ultimately, in this retrospective study evaluating 3.5 million full vaccine doses administered to 1.2 million dogs, 38.2 adverse vaccine reactions were observed for every 10,000 dogs. Which is not a big number of vaccine reactions. What was surprising, however, were the following observations:

The VAAE rate decreased significantly as body weight increased. Risk was 27% to 38% greater for neutered versus sexually intact dogs and 35% to 64% greater for dogs approximately 1 to 3 years old versus 2 to 9 months old. The risk of a VAAE significantly increased as the number of vaccine doses administered per office visit increased; each additional vaccine significantly increased risk of an adverse event by 27% in dogs ≤ 10 kg (22 lb) and 12% in dogs > 10 kg.

So it is that — as I think stands to reason — the injection of multiple vaccines at one time is likelier to yield adverse vaccine events. Moreover, it confirmed (and this time quantified) a previous study’s finding on the higher risks in smaller dogs. Then it went one further with the unexpected timing of greater reaction risk (more for 1-3 year-olds than for 2-9 month-olds), and, the most surprising finding of all (I think), that the risk was higher for spayed and neutered dogs.

So what’s the upshot of all this? Do we not spay and neuter? Do we forego vaccines from 1-3 years of age? Do we alter the timing of vaccines? Do we administer half doses? I think these findings are interesting as a basis for greater study.

By themselves, these numbers do little to alter my already highly individualized take on recommending spays and neuters in my patients. Forgoing vaccines at 1-3 is also a recommendation I’d never consider. Splitting up vaccines so no one gets more than one vaccine per visit is something I’m already jiggy with. But on the half vaccine thing?

1. While I do firmly believe that a half dose is likely to be less adverse vaccine event-inducing when administered to any dog, I can’t be sure that a half-dose will be effective in every dog. It’s simply not been investigated.

2. While vaccine manufacturers have not necessarily studied the safety of their vaccines in every size of dog, by now the sheer numbers of vaccinated dogs should serve as a powerful basis on which to assume safety in a wide variety of dogs at the recommended dosage.

So what will I do when the next client in search of a half-dose comes knocking?

  • I’ll explain all of the above. (Maybe I’ll even print it out and give them a few minutes to read it before popping back into the exam room.)
  • If they won’t relent I’ll make a note of it in their chart after administering the half-dose vaccines. All vaccines, that is, except the rabies vaccine.
  • The rabies vaccine will be administered at the full recommended dose. Because — guess what? — I risk my license when I don’t comply with the law on administering the rabies vaccine at the manufacturer’s recommended dose and schedule.

I’d like to think I’m pretty malleable for the most part. I’m willing to take lots of unsolicited advice from my clients and investigate its true worth and make concessions even when I don’t believe the science is there. But I do draw the line at putting my license at risk as some clients have demanded I do.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

In the photographs below, the dog’s nose is pointed to your right.

Variations on these instructions exist.

Your veterinarian will tell you if your dog’s medication(s) can be given with food or if it must be given on an empty stomach. If the tablet or capsule can be given with food, you may make a “meatball” by placing the medication in the center of a small ball of canned dog food or cheese. Always give a test “meatball” to your dog to make sure she is willing eat it and also to see if she chews it or gulps it whole. Dogs are more likely to gulp the “meatball” without chewing. If they do chew the “meatball” and spit out the pill, the tablet or capsule will partially dissolve and become very hard to handle. If the dog bites into the tablet or capsule, which will leave a bad taste in her mouth, she will be harder to medicate on the second attempt. So, you will have to decide what works best with your dog.

The following instructions are presented to help you give medications if you cannot give the medicine in a “meatball”. Use caution when giving a dog oral medication to avoid a bite. A dog’s mouth contains many bacteria. If you are bitten by your dog, clean the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention.

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

Medications for oral administration may be in pill, capsule or liquid form.

W hether you give your dog vaccinations at home or you have to give him an injection of medication, it’s likely that you’ll need to know how to give a dog an injection at some time or another. It’s cheaper to learn how to give your dog a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection than it is to bring him to the vet every time he needs one.

Some required vaccinations, like the distemper vaccine, are available for purchase at pet supply stores. You can purchase these vaccines for just a few dollars, instead of paying more than $100 to have them administered by a veterinarian.

Giving shots at home will also help to reduce anxiety of pets that need frequent injections. Dogs that require insulin, frequent shots of arthritis medication and other injectables may get stressed out with repeated visits to the vet’s office. Learning how to give a dog an injection would not only save you money, but keep Fido happy too.

Subcutaneous injections are the only type that you should give your dog. If the injection needs to go into a muscle or it is a nasal injection, it’s best to leave it to a professional. Go over the proper procedure of how to give a dog an injection with your vet before trying it on your own.

How To Give A Dog An Injection

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

When preparing to give your dog his injection, be sure to have everything ready beforehand. It’s also best to have another person to help restrain your pet, especially if it’s the first time you’re injecting him.

No matter what type of medication or vaccine that you’re administering, it’s smart to wear gloves. This prevents any type of contaminate from entering the injection site. Wipe down the syringe with rubbing alcohol before you begin. This will also reduce the chance of contaminates entering your dog’s system.

If you’re just learning how to give a dog an injection, you need to take a few precautionary steps. You’ll want to do a “practice poke” so you know how your dog is going to react when you stick him. As they say, practice makes perfect, and you want to be sure you know what’s going to happen before you waste an injection because your dog pulls away from the syringe.

Let your dog get used to the syringe. Fill it with a dose of the medication or vaccine and let him sniff it. Be careful not to let him poke himself with the needle. You may not be able to smell the liquid, but you better believe your dog can! Allowing him some time to get used to the odor will remove one more variable from the equation.

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

Once you’re sure that Fido is going to behave himself, it’s time to prepare the injection. Put on your gloves and fill the syringe to the required dosage level. You’ll want to inject the medication or vaccination right between your dog’s shoulder blades.

It may be easiest to have your dog lie down or you may prefer to stand and straddle him. Just be sure that standing over him won’t cause his anxiety to increase. Whichever way you choose, be sure you have direct access to the top of your dog’s back. As you’ll see in my video guide above, our chocolate Labrador (Saddie) was less than cooperative.

In between your dog’s should blades, pinch the excess skin of the back together to form a small valley. You’ll inject the medication or vaccination into the middle of this valley. Press the needle in and pull it out slightly. You don’t want to remove the entire needle.

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

If you see any blood leak out, you know you’ve hit a vein. This isn’t likely, but it’s best to check just in case. If you see blood, let go of the skin and begin again. If you don’t see blood, you can inject the liquid into your pet.

Be sure to do some research or speak with your veterinarian about common side effects with the medication or vaccination that you’re administering. You need to know what to be looking for in the days to come.

Common mild symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • low fever
  • low appetite
  • lethargy

Typically, these symptoms won’t require a trip to the vet. Severe reactions will usually occur within 30-60 minutes after administering the injection. If you notice any serious symptoms you’ll need to take seek veterinary assistance right away.

Serious symptoms to watch for include: lameness, seizures, collapse, vomiting and diarrhea. Again, if you notice any of these symptoms you need to rush your dog to a veterinary hospital. If you have to go to the vet, bring the packaging of the medication or vaccine you administered with you. This way the vet will know exactly what was given.

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

I’m often asked if I think it’s a good idea for a dog to be given a homeopathic remedy prior to being vaccinated, with the intent of preventing any kind of reaction. Personally, I believe it’s difficult to know what remedy might be effective in this regard, unless:

a) A constitutional remedy has already been established for that particular dog, i.e. has proven to help with ongoing symptoms the dog has exhibited in the past. In this case, it can be a good idea to give that specific remedy a day or two before the vaccine in order to boost the dog’s immune system overall.

b) The dog has reacted to a vaccine in the past. In this case, I would be inclined to give the dog the remedy that normally would be used to that specific reaction before the vaccine is given.

Many people automatically give the remedy Thuja after a vaccination, but it’s not the only remedy indicated for vaccine reactions. Silica is also a very important remedy in this regard. However, it’s important to remember that treating a reaction to vaccines is no different from treating anything else with homeopathy – the best homeopathic treatment for vaccine reactions to give is the one that matches the symptom picture the dog is displaying.

Taking etiology into account (i.e. the factors which predispose the dog toward a certain disorder) is always a part of proper casetaking. If we look up Generals, vaccination after in the Complete Repertory, 41 remedies are listed. Looking at the most prominent of these, and disregarding those that are more specific to vaccines that are NOT received by dogs – like smallpox – we are left with: Ant Tart, Apis, Arsenicum, Belladonna, Malandrinum, Medorrhinum, Merc Sol, Mezereum, Psorinum, Silica, Sulphur, Thuja, Tuberculinum. So, as you can see, it’s not exactly a cut and dried choice based on etiology alone. The choice of remedy should be based on the symptom picture, which can manifest anywhere between several hours and several months – or even several years – after vaccination.

Common Vaccine Reactions

That said, the vaccine reactions that dogs commonly experience often indicate Thuja or Silica. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Generals, convulsions, vaccination after: Silica, Thuja
  • Mentals, anxiety, vaccination after: Thuja
  • Eye, inflammation, vaccination after: Thuja
  • Stomach, nausea, vaccination after: Silica
  • Rectum, diarrhea, vaccination after: Silica, Thuja
  • Respiration, asthmatic, vaccination after: Thuja
  • Cough, vaccination after: Thuja
  • Extremities, paralysis, lower limbs, vaccination after: Thuja
  • Extremities, swelling general, upper limbs, vaccination after: Silica, Sulphur, Thuja (in dogs, this generally corresponds to a lump at the injection site)
  • Skin, eczema, vaccination after: Mezereum (thick, hard scabs), Sulphur (red, itchy eruptions)

Other Homeopathic Treatment For Vaccine Reactions

When treating reactions to a rabies vaccine, Belladonna and Lyssin (also known as Hydrophobinum) should be considered. Belladonna can be indicated if the dog suddenly develops a high fever, especially if he/she has glassy eyes with dilated pupils. This is also a remedy to consider if the dog develops aggressive or compulsive behaviour (e.g. turning in circles repeatedly), or seizure activity.

Lyssin (also known as Hydrophobinum) is the first remedy to think of if the dog develops a fear of water (which can manifest as refusing to drink) or is agitated by the sound of running water.

It may be a good idea to have Apis on hand, in case the dog exhibits facial swelling, or if there is any other indication that the dog is having an allergic reaction to the vaccine (e.g. swelling of the airways that impedes breathing).

Never be in hurry to leave the vet after your dog has been given a vaccine, as a severe reaction requiring emergency medical attention is always a possibility.

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

Vaccines are parts of viruses or infectious bacteria that are known to stimulate an immune response in your pet. After the puppy or kitten booster series is complete, the immune system has a “memory” of these virus or bacteria parts and thus will mount a swift response when the animal is challenged with the disease later on.

Many pets feel tired for a day or so after receiving a vaccination. This is because the immune system is working hard to make those antibodies and memory cells for the future.

Some pets will have a little bit of soreness at the injection site. Local pain or soreness and lethargy for approximately 24 hours are very normal responses to vaccination.

What are Signs of Allergic Reaction to Vaccination?

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

While pets infrequently suffer from an allergic reaction to vaccination, it’s important for pet owners to be aware that if an allergic reaction takes place, it can happen immediately or up to 48 hours after vaccines have been administered.

Usually, if an allergic reaction is to occur, it is not with the very first vaccine but rather with boosters. That is because, again, the immune system must have a memory of this disease in order to generate a response.

An allergic reaction is an aberrant response to the vaccination or, rather, an over-reaction to the vaccine. Signs can be vomiting and/or diarrhea within the first few hours after administration of the vaccine. Puffiness may be noted, especially around the eyes, muzzle and ears.

Another potential symptom is hives, or bumps, all over the body. If any of these signs are noted, or if at any time you are concerned with how your pet is acting after vaccination, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Very rarely, anaphylactic reactions can occur in which a pet may collapse or even die moments after vaccination. Again, this is extremely rare.

How is an Allergic Reaction Diagnosed?

Typically, no formal tests are needed. The veterinarian’s exam findings combined with the knowledge of very recent vaccination are enough to diagnose a vaccine reaction.

How is an Allergic Reaction Treated?

Your veterinarian will determine the best approach for your pet. Mild or moderate cases may be treated with an injectable antihistamine and/or a cortisone injection whereas more severe reactions may also require epinephrine and aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and support.

What’s the Prognosis for a Dog or Cat Suffering From a Vaccine Reaction?

The prognosis is good. It is extremely rare for an animal to die or suffer long term effects from a vaccine reaction.

Are Some Vaccines More Likely to Cause Reactions Than Others?

In the past, the Leptospirosis vaccine component present in some canine distemper combination vaccines was implicated in causing increased vaccine reactions. Recently, new information suggests that this may no longer be true, however, many veterinarians still avoid this vaccine component.

In some cases, cats may have a localized inflammatory reaction and develop a subsequent sarcoma due to FeIV or Rabies vaccine. While this is not classified as an allergic reaction, it should also be monitored and treated should a lesion occur at the injection site. Talk to your veterinarian about what’s right for your pet.

Are Some Pets More Likely to Experience Vaccine Reactions than Others?

How to administer a vaccine to a dog

While there are no particular breed predispositions, it has been found that the greater the number of vaccines administered at one time, the greater the risk of vaccine reaction. This is especially true for small dogs or cats. Large dogs seem to be able to tolerate receiving multiple vaccines at once whereas small dogs appear to have an increase in the chance of vaccine reaction.

To help avoid this, often vaccines are administered at different times, perhaps a week apart, rather than all at once. Some have suggested that half the normal dose of the vaccine may be more appropriate for small animals; however, this is not true. While it may seem odd that a small dog and a large dog are both to receive the same volume of vaccine, the immune system doesn’t see things that way.

A good analogy is that of one with a peanut allergy — ingesting half a peanut rather than the whole peanut is not less likely to cause a reaction.

Should Pets Still Receive Future Vaccines if a Vaccine Reaction Has Occurred in the Past?

Your veterinarian will determine if your animal is still a candidate for vaccines. Typically, your veterinarian will have notations in the record noting that your pet is reacts atypically to vaccines to avoid future reactions.

In some cases, a vaccine component might be avoided in the future or your pet may be pre-treated with anti-inflammatory drugs prior to vaccination. To maintain compliance with local and state rabies ordinances, you may still be required to have your pet vaccinated against rabies virus unless a rabies exemption is permitted by the public health officer in your area.

Remember: An allergic reaction to vaccination is not common. It’s always wise to be not any changes in your pet’s behavior after any vaccinations have been administered. If you have any concerns prior to vaccination, discuss with your veterinarian. Based on your location and your pet’s lifestyle, your veterinarian will determine the appropriate vaccine protocol for your pets.

Dr. Hawkins received her veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis and practices in Orange County, Calif., where she also works at local animal shelters. In addition, she is an advisory faculty member for aspiring veterinary technologists at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. Dr. Hawkins is an active member of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association where she served as president on the Board of Trustees.

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