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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sore After Vaccines

Something I always try to tell my clients is that vaccines can cause soreness and lethargy. Unfortunately, some people seem to get very upset if this happens. I occasionally have clients who bring their dogs back to me the day after being given vaccines because their pet is just laying around and not eating. In probably better than 99% of the cases, there is nothing to worry about, and they never needed to come back in the first place. So I thought I would spend a little time telling everyone about this so maybe you won't worry about your own pets and won't bug your vets.

When we give a vaccine we are stimulating the immune system. The goal is to create antibodies so that if the pet (or person) is exposed to that disease, their body will be prepared to fight it off. Vaccines stimulate the immune system in a controlled way that should cause antibody formation without causing the actual disease. However, being infected with a disease will also stimulate the immune system. When it becomes active, more happens than just antibody production. The cells that produce antibodies also release biochemicals that cause a cascade of events throughout the body. Some of these chemicals can cause inflammation (locally or systemically), raise the body temperature, and similar effects. Know how you feel sore and drowsy and just "blah" when you have a cold? That's the effect of these biochemicals. The same ones can be released by vaccines, and all it means is that the immune system is working properly.

Each individual's immune system reacts differently with illnesses and vaccines. When getting a tetanus or flu shot some people will be just a little sore at the injection site. Some people will be really sore in their whole arm. And some will run a low-grade fever and feel achy. The same thing happens with dogs and cats. Many have no side-effects whatsoever. But some can feel various degrees of lethargy and soreness for 24-48 hours.

This is not a vaccine "reaction". Instead, it is a vaccine "response", and is normal. True adverse reactions usually cause excessive vomiting, facial swelling, or hives along the body. In a true anaphylactic reaction, the pet (or person) will suffer a very quick reaction and will generally collapse as the blood pressure drops. In 12 years of practice, I have seen this happen 3-4 times out of the thousands and thousands of pets I've vaccinated.

So if your pet is sore or lethargic for a day or two after vaccines, don't worry. This is nothing to be concerned about, and if you just wait another day or so, everything should be back to normal. But if you have any doubts or questions, please contact your vet.

39 comments:

  1. Very useful article.

    One of our cats had his shots yesterday (the other one is due next week as he's a bit under the weather at the mo) and although he had a bit of dinner yesterday he didn't come into the kitchen for breakfast this morning. He has been quite lethargic and has just been dozing/snoozing on his favorite kitchen chair.
    Initially I was a bit concerned, but then common sense prevailed when I remembered how I felt after my last pre-travel shots - a bit lethargic and low appetite. Phew...

    Thanks for posting this reassuring article!

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  2. i gave my dog her shot today for the first time shes only 9 weeks old and dont even weight 1 pound she wants me to pick her up but when i do she yeps really loud like i'm killing her and has diarrhea and kind of looks like blood dont know if it is or its just a radish color just know that it is freaking me out and wish i could do something to help her

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  3. First, I don't recommend that clients give their own vaccines. Most owners don't have the experience to properly judge vaccines or know what to look for. Bloody diarrhea may be an indication of a vaccine reaction, though isn't always the case. Soreness is normal. I would recommend contacting your vet and having her seen.

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  4. My pup is 12 weeks old and 7 lbs. She received her second set of shots the day before yesterday including parvo, distemper, leptospirosis and bordatella. The bordatella was in her left honch. The other was in her right side. This morning I noticed a lump on the right side rib cage. As the day went on the lump grew a little bit bigger but not too big. She also stated favoring her front right leg. She couldn't have injured it because she has been pretty lethargic. She had still been eating dining and going potty like normal though. Would this be affecting her leg? I am taking her in tomorrow, but I am a nervous wreck!

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  5. Vaccines are not normally given on the chest, so I wouldn't expect a swelling there from the shots. Soreness in the limbs or injection sites is normally only for the first 24-48 hours. I wouldn't panic, but I would make sure you have your vet look at it.

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  6. Thank you so much for posting this information. My 1 yr old JRT got all of his booster's today, including Kennel Cough. He was fine for the first couple of hours, still playing and had a good meal when he got home and then about 4 hours after the shots he got really sleepy and has been zonked out ever since. Can barely hold himself up to go outside?? He just wants to lay there and sleep. This is so completely out of character for him and although I kept telling myself it was just a reaction to his shots, hearing it from a professional is very re-assuring.

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  7. Thank you so much for this imformation. i was starting to worry about my cat who go his shots yesterday late afternoon. he was fine untill we got home and ever since he has been sleeping. thankfully i dont have to bug my vet now lol. question though, would it be ok to put a slightly warm heating sock (sock with rice in it) on the sore area.

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  8. My son's puppy just received his second set of shots. Then three times while sleeping the puppy jumped up screaching out in pain and running so no one could get near him. There swelling and a bump at the injection site. If he bumped that while sleeping would it cause that type of pain?

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    1. Hey i know am 2 years late but do you remember if your puppy had any actual problems after that? Same exact thing is happening to my dog and i am getting kinda worried

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  9. It's been 4 days since my 1.5 year old dog receive 4 vaccines ( rabies, Lyme, lepto and dhpp). She is extremely lethargic and sore still, walking very slowly when it's time to got out. She is normally a very active 50 lb pit mix. She is eating ( slowly), drinking and having normal output. Is this type of lethargy and soreness to be expected 4 days after vaccination?

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  10. Thank you I feel better reading this article

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  11. My yorkie has a painful lump after his vaccination for leptospirosis and heartworm. I'm bringing him to the vet to have him checked.

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  12. My 12 week old chi just had booster shots today. She weighs 3.6lbs. Lethargic and avoiding any food/water and just peed on my couch which she knows not to do. I understand puppies have accidents but she's been so good about knowing where to go. Should I be concerned?

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  13. My 12 week old chi just had booster shots today. She weighs 3.6lbs. She is lethargic and not interested in food/water and also just had an accident on my couch. She knows where to go and is good about that. Should I be concerned?

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  14. Thank you so much for this info!!!

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  15. My irish terrior had lyme, flu, and bordetella and she is extremely lethargic and snaps at me if I try an pick her up to help. My vet said give her 1/2 a buffer aspirin for the pain. It's been 28 hrs and I hope she continues to improve. She has an appetite and even went for a short walk around the yard to deficate but is walking very gingerly. Poor baby!

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  16. You just saved my vet a phone call in the morning. They were jam packed today and had technical difficulties with their computer systems so they didn't get to go over the things to expect from vaccines as thoroughly as usual. I'm glad I found your article and didn't have to bug them further with questions.

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  17. My 9 week old puppy who weights 1 lb had his shots yesterday. And today he won't eat, wont play, has diarrhea and vomiting and drinking a lot. He wants to just sleep. And lions when we move him. What is going on with him? Is it something I need to take him to the vet for? Or is it normal?

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  18. Give your vet a call to be sure, but this may be normal.

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  19. We gave our puppy his first parvo shot and since then he seems fine but when he sleeps he shakes and twitches and is a bit hard to wake up. Once he wakes up he seems fine but im not sure if we should be concerned about the shakes and twitching even whimpers sometimes..help

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    Replies
    1. That may just be heavy dreaming since he's normal when awake. Give your vet a call to be on the safe side.

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  20. Is it ok to give your dog Ramadyl after vaccination?

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    Replies
    1. Double check with your vet, as Rimadyl can interact with other medications (but not vaccines).

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  21. Hello,
    My puppy just got his second round of shots and he is exhibiting all the regular syptoms like fatigue, however he is extremely sore where he got the vaccine (upper thigh where I tried to pet him) and he is walking funny on his hind paw. Is this in the spectrum of normal? Should I take him to the vet asap? Thank you !

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    Replies
    1. It is typical to be sore at the site of the vaccine for a day or two. If you're concerned, though, check with your vet.

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  22. Thx for this info I was so worried about my 2 month old mini poodle all he does is drinks and sleeps though.But I'm hoping it's not serious :)

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  23. My boxer puppy's injection site has gone from the size of a grape to her entire shoulder looking like a chicken breast. Not sure what to do . Ice?

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    Replies
    1. That is definitely not normal! Contact your vet right away.

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  24. Thank you for the article.

    My GSD of 14 weeks had her Rabies booster shot 48 hours ago and he is still very lethargic. He is eating as usual and walks around the backyard to defecate and urinate as usual, but since he is still very lethargic even after 48 hours, is there a reason for concern?

    He had a low grade fever, so I gave him 1.5 ml of peadriatic crocin syrup earlier today...his fever had reduced, but I am not sure if I should repeat that dose again if he has fever.

    Thank you!

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  25. Really appreciate this! My labradoodle had his series of boosters yesterday as well as receiving a microchip. He is still acting very sore and tired. Your article was very reassuring. Thank you!

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  26. Hello. Was just browsing through the comments and saw you stated you wouldn't suggest giving your dog vaccines yourself? I gave my girl (who's about 2 years old now) a shot that was recommended by the pet store clerk called a "9 pack". I did it myself because I couldn't afford the vet visit and my boyfriend just got a puppy so I didn't want to chance her getting anything from the pup because she hadn't been properly vaccinated.. last night was when I gave her the shot. Today I am extremely worried :( I could barely get her out of bed and her body is all limp like it normally is when she first wakes up but she doesn't seem to be snapping out of it, she just keeps wanting to go back to sleep.. she ate okay, I'm assuming she has a fever because her whole body is extremely hot, oh and the injection site is pretty sore and swollen.. I can't call her very because they are closed on sundays.. can you please help me?!

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    1. Your vet should have an after-hours emergency line or information for a local emergency clinic. I've never known a vet to not do one of these. If you're that worried, I would take her in to be looked at.

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  27. My cat just got his second set of booster shots yesterday, he was fine for the rest of last night and this morning but now is just laying around. He also acts like his back legs are hurting. He winces when I pet him and i tried to pick him up and he screetched. Ahould i be concerned or should I give him a couple days to see if it gets better

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  28. My 12 year old beagle gets sick every time he gets his shots. He got rabies, distemper, and boadortella 6 days ago and has lost 5 pounds won't eat at all and only drinks and sleeps. He did have vomiting and diarrhea for three days but now only vomits yellow about once a day. He went back for a shot to counter act the vaccination the vet said and also is on a meds for basically acid reflux for dogs. Will he come out of this???

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  29. Great article! My girl is 10, and gets lethargic in the evening every time she gets her boosters. I usually keep her comfy and allow her to have her me-time. But, having this article is a nice reminder that everything's good.

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  30. I took my bully in yo the vet today for a cough a vomiting. While she was being diagnosed with bronchitis we decided that her rabies shot was due. She got the 3 yr shot and is now very lethargic and shivering. The injection site is a little swollen but not hot and she doesn't seem to be running a temp at the moment. My question is should we give her water by syringe to keep her hydrated if she won't drink? And if so, how often?

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  31. Thank you very much for posting this. My vet did say she would be tired, but knowing why really helped me understand. I was going to call her tomorrow, but I'll wait a few days. As long as my puppy eats, drinks, and goes to the bathroom, she'll be just fine...

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  32. I'm not sure it should be classified as bugging the vet. You are compensated for your work and to take five minutes to ease an owners mind doesn't seem unreasonable.

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