Monday, January 10, 2011
Are dog vaccines safe?
This is a question commonly asked by dog lovers. They want to do the right thing, protect their dog but at the same time minimize risk of problems to their dog.
Most vaccines are safe and do more good than harm. However, there are three types of reactions that can occur from vaccines. The first are mild reactions, the second are allergic reactions and the third is serious reactions that are associated with immune system problems
Mild Reactions - A small percentage of dogs will feel a little "sore" after their vaccines. This is the exception rather than the rule. Some dogs may run a low-grade fever or just feel a little tired. They may be less active, sleep more and eat slightly less than normal. This is temporary and they generally do fine. It is often hard to tell what of this behavior is from the vaccine or from the stress of going to the clinic to get the vaccine.
Allergic Reactions - Some reactions are mild causing itching, hives, swelling, temporary nausea, and others can be serous anaphylactic reactions that are life threatening. Serious allergic type vaccine reactions in dogs are rare.
Immune System Associated Reactions - Some dogs may develop what is called an "Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia". This is an uncommon condition in which the immune system somehow becomes stimulated to destroy the bodies' own red cells. This is a complex disease and no one really knows the underlying cause. Vaccines are one possible theory as well as many other theories. Many dogs develop this disease without any recent history of vaccination. However, this disease is very serious and life threatening.
No one knows for sure why it occurs – but it is thought that post-vaccine immune stimulation may occur as a consequence of an overzealous immune system reaction to the vaccine. Regardless, they are life-threatening and awful.
So, are vaccines safe?
Many veterinarians feel that most vaccines are safe and do more good than harm if used properly. Each dog should be regarded relative to their risk and given the vaccines that truly protect them.