Ahhh….Spring! It is a time for planting the garden, planning the summer vacation, and bringing Fido or Fluffy to the veterinarian for vaccines. We bring our pets to the veterinarian for vaccinations to keep them healthy, but few of us realize the potential risks associated with vaccines. An article published in the October 1, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association gave an overview of adverse reactions noted within three days of vaccine administration in dogs. This article will summarize the information in the journal.
Vaccines must be proven to be safe and effective prior to being used. However, no vaccine is 100% effective or completely safe. Adverse vaccine reactions do occur. These reactions can be seen as early as a few minutes following vaccination, to as long as 30 days after vaccination. However, the journal article study only covered those reactions happening within three days of vaccination.
The study analyzed 1,226,159 dogs that had received vaccinations and found that 4,678 of them had a reaction within three days. Stated another way, there were 38 reactions/ 10,000 dogs vaccinated. This may seem like a small number, but the study revealed some interesting facts. Certain breeds of dogs, but small dogs in general, along with dogs that received multiple vaccines at the same time, were more likely to have a vaccine reaction.
In the study, dogs that were less than 20 pounds were more likely to have a vaccine reaction, with Dachshunds (121 reactions/10,000 dogs vaccinated), Pugs, Boston Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, and Chihuahuas having the highest rates of all dogs. Rottweilers (13 reactions/10,000 dogs vaccinated), German Shepards and Chow Chows were the least likely to experience an adverse reaction. Vaccine reactions increased as the number of vaccines given at the same time increased. Each additional vaccine given at the same time increased the rate of an adverse reaction by 24%. The three dogs that died in the study had all received four or more vaccines at the same time.
At the Holistic Veterinary Center we recommend creating a customized vaccination plan based on
the risk of the disease and exposure to the disease, especially for small breed dogs. We also recommend
having vaccine titer tests run (See Informational Article: Vaccine Alternatives For Your Pet) and to
give only one vaccine at a time (See Informational Article: Canine Vaccine Recommendations and Feline
Vaccine Recommendations). Vaccine reactions can still occur, but this approach reduces the likelihood
of a reaction.