As much as vaccines are important for your dog, you still have to be wary of the adverse effects it can have on them. As we all know, vaccination carries with itself certain risks and side effects as the body’s way of acceptance of new antibodies. Still, their importance and benefits outweigh the negatives. You may find your dog acting strange or having trouble walking after a vaccine shot from the vet. It is usually a normal immune system reaction from dogs as their body is still adjusting. Some of those recommendations are crucial, however, for some, you should be asking more questions.  

What are Vaccinations For?

Despite the many questions that pet owners will raise when it comes to vaccination. Most of these raised concerns come from conflicting information that dog owners will find on the internet. In simple terms, vaccines are a micro dose of chemicals that allows a dog to develop the antibodies for a specific disease. Equipped with the right antibodies, a dog’s body can have an acquired immunity for microbial invasions. 

The Importance of Vaccinations for Dogs

Vaccines contain antibodies that adds another layer of immunity in the dog’s body. This allows the dog to have a stronger immunity towards bacteria and viruses that they may encounter in the future. Even though vaccines may not exactly prevent your dog from contracting with a disease, it is a way of prevention and it can certainly reduce chances of your dog acquiring the disease that the vaccine is for. This is what makes vaccines incredibly important. If your dog is not vaccinated for a particular disease, and comes in contact with that specific disease, it can become fatal despite treatment. Moreover, the cost of the treatment will also be more expensive since your dog will require intensive care and more advanced treatment procedures. Vaccines shots are essential for younger dogs and pets since their immune system is still developing. This will increase their immunity at their current stage of vulnerability. Hence, your veterinarian will schedule a series of different vaccination when your dog is at a younger age. Vaccinations are also important for some zoonotic diseases which are diseases that are shared between animals and humans.  A good example of a zoonotic disease is rabies since it can transmit from animals to humans. It can potentially be very severe, and if left untreated will become fatal. This why a vet is likely to prioritize a rabies vaccine over the others. 

Vaccines and their Types 

You should not burden your dogs with all different types of vaccines.  Any vaccination program should consider certain factors before prescribing a dog with vaccines. One of the most important risk factor is the local risk of disease.  This entails to the air that your dog breathes, and the most common diseases that are lurking in it. By using this information, the types of vaccines divide between the core vaccines and non core vaccines. Core vaccines are ones that involve severe health implication when one does not take them seriously. A rabies vaccine is one of the most common examples of a core vaccine, along with distemper and parvo. Non core vaccines are usually lifestyle vaccines that serve individual dogs that have unique requirements. For example, Your vet might prescribe your dog with influenza vaccine depending on your region and risk of exposure. 

Rabies Vaccine

A rabies vaccination can truly be life saving for humans. It is a viral infection that is present in the saliva of a host animal such as a dog. Its transmission from dogs to humans usually occurs when a dog bites a person. It can also transmit to a person when the saliva of a dog touches an open wound. However, this occurrence is very rare. A rabies shot can inhibit some of the more intense symptoms of the virus if you come in contact.  Anyone that does not get a rabies shot right after contacting the virus, is likely to suffer from flu like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and headache.  One of the more severe symptoms include issues in the central nervous system like paralysis and psychomotor agitation. Because it can lead to such complications, most states have made rabies vaccination a legal requirement for dog owners who recently adopted a young puppy to their family. 

Why do Vaccines Cause Side Effects?

After you vaccinate your pets, you must let your veterinarian know about any abnormalities or weird behaviors that may occur. Reactions to vaccines is something that every pet owner worries about.  There are two types of reactions that you may see in your dog.  The first is anaphylactic reaction. In some cases, this type of reaction can occur immediately after a vaccination. Second would be a cell-mediated reaction which gradually occurs over time. Most pets will have the same vaccine reactions that humans have, such as a mild fever and sluggishness. Adverse effects occur because vaccines stimulate the immune system slightly, so that the body can develop antigens for the virus.  This stimulation causes the body to react to the vaccine, in the same way that it would react to a certain virus. In few instances, the reaction amplifies to a dangerous level, which begins to scare most people.  As soon as your pet shows signs of abnormalities after a vaccination that is concerning, make sure to take your puppy to the vet immediately. There, the vet will likely prescribe the puppy with some baby aspirin or countering treatments.  Thanks to the advancements in the vaccine technologies and the new findings on subjects such as rabies, transfer factor, and dog immunity, vaccines have now become less frequent for the people making it less overwhelming for owners and their pets. 

Injection Site Sarcomas

You can also find vaccines with reactions that display a tumor at the site of injection in a dog. In this situation, make sure that you take your dog to the vet immediately. This vaccine reaction is more common in cats than dogs.   

Can Dog Vaccines Cause Paralysis or Limping?

Vaccines can induce an allergic reaction in a dog.  As the antigen enters your dog’s body, the body undergoes a negative feedback cycle that raises the temperature of the dog’s body, ultimately causing a fever.  Apart from the common fever reaction, a dog can also display limping and paralysis. The reason why a dog might limp after a vaccine has to do with the injection site. Sometimes, when a vet injects the dog, that particular region begins to hurt. Some inflammation or swelling might also occur, that gives the dog trouble walking.  This is why a dog walking right after a vaccination will display limping.  Furthermore, some vaccine reactions also lead to rear-end paralysis or posterior end paralysis. This condition is most common in dogs that recently got a rabies shot. In rear end paralysis, the hind leg or the back legs of the dog stop functioning. As scary as it sounds, this type of paralysis is not permanent and will improve most probably on the tenth day after it has been observed. The central nervous system is responsible for the rear end paralysis, and due to this implication, the US introduced protocols that restrict a vet from applying vaccination to only one specific injection site on the body. This allows the vets to determine the vaccine reactions of the dogs, and keep a record of the negative health effects so that they can correlate to the specific vaccination and the area on the body.  Even though much of the information on the internet about vaccine reactions is not valid, some evidence put weight on the claim that some rabies vaccine does indeed cause side effects which include limping, lethargy, lameness and hind end paralysis. The best way to prevent these allergic reactions from happening is to vaccinate your dog in breaks and not burden them with all the vaccines together. Since vaccines tend to stimulate an immune response, a high dose can possibly result in an overwhelming response that can lead to rear end paralysis or limping. 

Common Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Some of the common reactions of vaccinations include:

  • Sneezing 
  • Loss in appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Shivering 
  • Stiffness 
  • Fever 
  • Swelling 
  • Laziness 

These are the common reactions that you may not have to worry about. They are all flu-like symptoms that are explained by vets as a normal reactions of the immune system. However, your dog may need vet attention if these conditions worsen which could cause your dog to have trouble walking. The reaction that you should be aware of include some allergic reactions such as:

Severe Reactions: When to Worry 

  • Long Lasting Behavior change 
  • Hair loss 
  • Hives 
  • Facial Edema
  • Trouble breathing (respiratory Problems) 
  • The specific disease that the vaccine was suppose to counter and its symptoms
  • Seizures 
  • Vomiting Non Stop
  • Sarcomas (this refers to the lump at the injected site) 

If the reaction is less severe and only lasts about 2 to 3 days, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if the experience persists over time and keeps getting worse, then you should not wait any long and rush to the nearest vet.  

Using CBD Post Vaccination

CBD or cannabidiol is a naturally existing substance that is the main constituent of the cannabis plant, along with its notorious counterpart, that is THC. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties, making it a safe-to-use substance for dogs facing the symptomatic effects of a vaccine.  If helps a dog recover from the post-vaccine pain and effects because of its natural holistic properties and its correspondence to our endocannabinoid system, which regulates the pain and pleasure centers inside your dog’s body.  In general, if your dog is facing a limp, this is a clear sign of discomfort. CBD has proven to help with bodily discomforts in dogs without inducing any harmful side effects. More importantly, you can find this product in various edible forms, specified for the consumption of dogs.  The best products include dog treats that will help your dog deal with not only pain relief, but also the stress and anxiety that comes with vaccination. In addition, it’s incredible anti-inflammatory properties help with allergic reactions such as swelling of skin rashes. Before you give your dog CBD as a therapy, it is important to consult with the vet. Your vet will guide on the safest ways to give your dog CBD in combination with its regular meal, and prescription medicines.  You must also learn about the correct dosage of the product. 

Our Final Thoughts

Vaccinations are essential for a dog, and the dog owner. However, you must be wary of its effects, and make the right judgments depending on the reactions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog having trouble standing and walking?

some vaccine reactions also lead to rear-end paralysis, or posterior end paralysis. This condition is most common in dogs that recently attain a rabies shot. In rear end paralysis, the hind leg or the back legs of the dog stop functioning, making them unable to stand or walk. 

Is it normal for my puppy to limp after getting shots?

Even though much of the information on the internet about vaccine reactions is not valid, some evidence put weight on the claim that some rabies vaccine does indeed cause effects along the lines of limping, lethargy, lameness and hind end paralysis. 

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Katelyn Son