Reactions to Vaccines in Dogs & Cats

Any veterinary medical procedure will have some risk associated with it. That said, when it comes to vaccinations, in most cases the benefits far outweigh the risks. In today's post our Flat Rock vets share some common reactions pets have to vaccinations, and what to do if your pet has a reaction to getting their shots.


Why should I get my pet vaccinated?

Vaccinations play an important role in preventing your pet from contracting serious contagious diseases that can threaten your pet's longterm health. Typically the benefits of having your cat or dog vaccinated far outweighs the risk of your pet having a reaction to the vaccines. That said, some animals do react to getting their shots.

How many pets have serious reactions to vaccines?

There are always some inherent risks associated with veterinary medical procedures including vaccinations. However the risk of your dog or cat having a serious reaction to vaccines is very small. Nonetheless, for those pet parents who's beloved pet does experience a reaction, the experience can be very distressing.

It is estimated that between 1-10 cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated will experience a serious reaction to the vaccines. Which means that out of those 10,000 between 9, 990 - 9,999 sail through the process without any serous issues.

What kinds of reactions can pets have to getting their shots?

Most reactions that pets have to vaccines are mild, short-lived and typically far less dangerous than the illnesses the vaccines protect against. Below are some of the most common reactions that cats and dogs have to getting vaccinated:

Lethargy & Slight Fever

  • Lethargy, some mild discomfort, and a slight fever are the most common reactions pets have to vaccines. This can be characterized by your pet just not acting like their usual self. This is a normal reaction to vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and only last a day or two. If your dog or cat isn't back to behaving like their usual self within a couple of days, contact your vet for advice.

Localized Swelling

  • Lumps and bumps are a common reaction to vaccinations in both dogs and cats. Often a small, firm bump will develop at the spot where the needle pierced the skin. This is a normal reaction however pet parents should monitor the area to ensure that the bump doesn't continue to grow or show signs of inflammation, infection or oozing. The lump should not be painful and should gradually disappear over the course of about a week. If the lump shows signs of becoming infected, or hasn't disappeared after about a week, contact your veterinarian.

Sneezing & Cold Like Symptoms

  • While the majority of the vaccines recommended for dogs and cats are given by injection some are administered by drops or sprays into the pet's nose or eyes. Reactions to intranasal vaccines look a lot like a cold, and include symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Expect your pet recover from these symptoms within a day or two. If your dog or cat does not recover within a couple days, or has more severe symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

What serious reactions could my cat or dog have to vaccines?

Most reactions associated with vaccines are short lived and mild but, in a few rare cases more severe reactions requiring immediate medical attention can occur.

Symptoms of a serious reaction will usually occur very soon after the vaccine is given but can take as long as 48 hours to appear. Signs of a more severe reaction to a vaccination include facial swelling, vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties.

Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction that pets can have to vaccinations. Anaphylaxis will generally occur in dogs and cats very soon after the vaccination has been administered, but it's important to note that anaphylaxis can occur up to 48 hours after the vaccine.

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

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

Vaccines play an essential role in protecting your pet's overall health. The risk of your cat or dog having a serious reaction to a vaccine is very low. 

If your pet has had a reaction to vaccines in the past, be sure to let your vet know. Your veterinarian may recommend that you to skip a particular vaccination in future.

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

Is it time for your pet to have their annual vaccinations or wellness examContact our office today to book an appointment for your cat or dog.

Potential reactions to vaccines in dogs and cats, Flat Rock Vet

Looking for a vet in Flat Rock?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Should I get my indoor cat vaccinated? Why and when to do it

Our Flat Rock vets share some insights about why it's a good idea to have your indoor cat vaccinated against a number of serious conditions and diseases.

Renal Failure in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Renal failure (kidney failure) in dogs can have numerous causes. In this post, our Flat Rock vets share some facts about causes, symptoms and treatment of renal failure in dogs.

Cat Urinary Infection & Treatment

Cat urinary tract infections are much more rare than urinary tract infections in dogs. However, cats (in particular senior cats) do frequently experience other urinary tract issues. Today, our Flat Rock vets share symptoms, causes and treatments for urinary tract infections and diseases in cats.

Ear Infection in Cats

Though ear infections are uncommon in cats when they do occur they are often a secondary condition that can lead to serious consequences if not treated for too long. In this post, our Flat rock vets share causes, symptoms and treatments for ear infections in cats. 

(828) 697-7767