What to Do When Your Dog Has a Vaccine Reaction

Written by Jan on December 2, 2010 – 1:32 pm

IS THIS AN EMERGENCY?  If your dog is breathing heavily, his face is swelling and eyes watering, and/or he’s vomiting, has hives or is having a seizure or collapsing, your dog is having a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY! and start for your vet’s office or an emergency facility while, preferably, someone else drives.  (You do know where the nearest emergency vet is, don’t you?)

Your vet may not recognize your dog’s symptoms as a vaccine reaction and probably won’t want to believe or admit that the shot he/she administered brought on this problem.  If you believe it’s a vaccine reaction, be strong. You know your dog better than your vet does. Above all, keep your wits about you. Don’t be pressured into doing anything that doesn’t feel right. For example, if your dog has her first seizure ever soon after vaccination, she is probably having a vaccine reaction; she probably does NOT suddenly have a brain tumor requiring a $800 MRI!  As they say, when you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras! 

Similarly, if your vet wants to give your dog antibiotics because she may have developed some unknown infection  the day after the shot (rather than a vaccine reaction), question that assumption. Antibiotics given needlessly can lead to antibiotic resistance and even autoimmune disease, and will destroy good intestinal flora which can potentially lead to gastrointestinal problems and allergies. Vets (and medical doctors) too often recommend antibiotics because they don’t know what else to do and feel they should do something.  Insist on a good evidence-based reason for giving any antibiotic.

If you’re having an emergency, read about CPR or scroll down to Treatment.

Pet CPR:  If your dog isn’t breathing, you’ll need to take action fast.  Here’s an instructional video on pet CPR .  Also see these written instructions which you can print out.

Non-immediate reactions:  If your dog has developed any unexplained health or behavioral problem within 45 to 60 days of vaccination, or even longer, it may be a reaction to the shot.  If you suspect the problem may be connected to a vaccine, you’ll likely have to convince your vet. It’s common to hear “it couldn’t be the shot” or “a reaction like that isn’t possible” — even when the reaction is a common one.

Many primary vets believe vaccine reactions to be rare, in large part because severe cases go to emergency clinics, not back to the primary vet.  The World Small Animal Veterinary Association, WSAVA (p. 55), says: “It is generally only the adverse reactions that occur within the first few hours to a day after vaccination that are considered vaccine-associated by most veterinarians or owners. Even when the adverse reaction occurs shortly after vaccination there are many who fail to recognize that the vaccine caused the reaction. Certain adverse vaccine reactions are not observed until days, weeks or even months and years after vaccination or revaccination. The autoimmune disorders and the injection site sarcomas, which are among the rare vaccine adverse reactions, may not develop for years after being triggered by vaccines.”

Even the drug’s manufacturer (to whom you should immediately report the reaction) may deny the connection. (Admitting it may cost them money.)  If your dog got a rabies vaccination plus another vaccine of any kind, make sure you know where on the body the different shots were given and the name and serial number of each shot. This is especially important if your dog got a rabies shot.

Insist on seeing every product’s package insert. Get it from your vet or call the manufacturer and ask if it’s viewable on-line. (It probably is, but they won’t admit it. Note: the Material Safety Data  Sheet, or MSDA, is not the same thing.) Also know that long-term reactions aren’t usually documented or even studied. So persevere! A suspected vaccine reaction, especially one supported by your vet, may entitle you to compensation for medical expenses from the drug manufacturer.

Which dogs are most likely to have reactions?  Small and medium-sized dogs are the most likely, especially when given more than one vaccine at a time. (DALPPC, a common “combo shot,” contains SIX vaccines! If your vet gives rabies or Bordetella at the same time, that’s EIGHT!)  For more about this, read my article about a study published in the American Veterinary Medical Association Journal showing the connection between multiple vaccines and reactions. (Give your vet a copy.) Note: multiple vaccines also make it difficult to figure out which vaccine caused the reaction. Just one of countless good reasons not to allow them!  (Wait at least three weeks between shots and pesticides like heartworm meds.)

Dogs vaccinated when they are not healthy, dogs with previous adverse reactions to vaccines and dogs vaccinated within three weeks of a previous vaccination are also more likely to react adversely. Read this article on Protecting Dogs from Vaccine Reactions to find other ways you or your vet may have put your dog at risk.

How prevalent are reactions?   The USDA/CVB 2008 Report states that “Rabies vaccines are the most common group of biological products identified in adverse event reports received by the CVB.”  In 2007, 6500 reactions were reported for the canine rabies vaccine alone.  Unfortunately, former FDA commissioner David Kessler estimated that only 1% of all drug reactions are ever reported (even for human reactions). Thus, approximately 650,000 rabies vaccine reactions likely occurred.  Add to that more than a dozen other vaccines also causing reactions. Worse yet, long-term reactions are seldom even recognized let alone reported.

What reactions are commonly seen?  Common rabies vaccine reactions, followed by the percentage of reactions reported to the USDA (many of which are also reactions to other vaccines): Vomiting-28.1%; facial swelling-26.3%; injection site swelling or lump-19.4%; lethargy-12%; urticaria(hives)-10.1%; circulatory shock-8.3%; injection site pain-7.4%; pruritus-7.4%; injection site alopecia or hair loss-6.9%; death-5.5%; lack of consciousness-5.5; diarrhea-4.6%; hypersensitivity (not specified)-4.6%; fever-4.1%;, anaphylaxis-2.8%; ataxia-2.8%; lameness-2.8%; general signs of pain-2.3%; hyperactivity-2.3%; injection site scab or crust-2.3%;, muscle tremor-2.3%; tachycardia-2.3%; and thrombocytopenia-2.3%.  (Oddly, they don’t list seizures which may occur after rabies vaccination. Click here for more on seizures.)

Other reactions considered “possibly related to vaccination” included acute hypersensitivity (59%); local reactions (27%); systemic reactions, which refers to short-term lethargy, fever, general pain, anorexia, or behavioral changes, with or without gastrointestinal disturbances starting within 3 days after vaccination (9%); autoimmune disorders (3%); and other (2%).

Also see the chart on page 54 of the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines (which lists seizures.)

What to Do If You Suspect Your Dog is Having a Vaccine Reaction

1.  Get treatment!

In emergencies: Most dogs will get emergency treatment from a conventional vet — often from an emergency facility veterinarian you don’t know.  The vet will likely administer steroids and an antihistamine.  These are the conventional treatments of choice.  Most important at this point is to save your dog’s life.  Note: Unless there is a good evidence-based reason for your dog to get antibiotics, consider whether or not this is a wise course of action.

If you have a relationship with a holistic vet and can get immediate treatment, you will probably be offered homeopathy and/or acupuncture — which unlike steroids and antihistamines have no harmful side effects.

Non emergencies and long-term treatment: If possible, find a vet trained in homeopathy to treat your dog — to “clear” the bad effects of the vaccine rather than just suppress symptoms. See these vet referral lists  If you can’t find a good vet, or can’t afford one, contact me for other experts you can contact.  The rabies vaccine alone can cause blood disease, autoimmune disease and more. Find a list of rabies vaccine reactions here.

Watch your dog carefully for new or worsened symptoms. Report all changes to your vet.  If the symptoms are visual, take photograph or videotape what is happened.

2. Document everything!  Make sure all vets treating your dog record any reaction in detail (even a mild one) in your dog’s file. Ask the vet to sign the notation about the reaction. Vets retire, move and lose files. Keep a copy of the file in a safe place along with any photos or video.

If the reaction was to the rabies vaccine, you’ll want to ask your vet to apply for a medical exemption when the shot is due again.  Ask the vet to write a letter now to use later. If the reaction is to any other vaccine, you may want to get an exemption from groomers and boarders who require  other vaccines — most if not all of which are unnecessary.  (Please read our page on vaccinating before you give another shot of any kind.  And check your state’s rabies law and also your local Animal Control to see if local exemption options differ.)

3. Call the vaccine manufacturer.  Get the vaccine brand, serial number and lot number from the vet who administered the vaccine to report to the manufacturer (who in turn is legally required to report the reaction to the USDA).  Ask your vet to report the reaction but don’t expect that he or she will. The 2006 American Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force Report pleads with vets, page after page, to report reactions — because they seldom do. Vets either don’t link the health or behavior problem to the vaccine … or they can’t be bothered.  Thus, reactions go unrecognized and reported, and dangerous vaccines stay on the market.

If the vaccine can be proven to be at fault, you may be able to recover your expenses from the manufacturer. Reporting is in your best interests.

If, tragically, your dog dies or has to be put down, ask the manufacturer if they’ll pay for a necropsy (autopsy). If they won’t pay, but it’s pretty clear that the vaccine caused the dog’s death, you might want to pay for it yourself (if you can) and then go after the manufacturer for reimbursement. This is especially important with injection-site tumors.

4. Report the Reaction to the USDA  Go to the USDA animal vaccine reaction reporting page  to view information on reporting adverse events. The reporting form can be accessed from that page and submitted electronically, or it can be mailed or faxed to the Center for Veterinary Biologics. Or call the CVB at (800) 752-6255.

Why should you bother?  The only way for the USDA to track drug reactions is by receiving reports from vets, pet owners and manufacturers. Theoretically, if enough reactions are reported, the drug can be recalled.

5. Report your vet.

If your vet didn’t advise you before vaccination about possible reactions, or let you know if the vaccine was even necessary, file a report with your state veterinary medical association.  In some states, they’ll tell you if your vet has a history of negligence. In others, they won’t tell you anything. Filing a report can result in no action being taken, so be prepared to be disappointed. But do it anyway. Multiple complaints can make a difference.

Wait until you’ve gotten everything you need from your vet before filing the complaint. Also, fire that vet and tell him or her why.  Click here to find a list of vets with holistic and/or homeopathic experience to treat your dog in the future.

6. Take More Action.  If your vet’s behavior was particularly negligent and harmful, especially if the vet is with a large corporate practice, consider contacting your state’s Attorney General and/or a local television consumer reporter and/or the Better Business Bureau. Laws are changing because consumers have taken action.

7.  Stop vaccinating unnecessarily. Your vet should have told you before vaccinating that parvovirus (one “P” in DALPPC) lasts 9 years to a lifetime; the same with distemper (D). The L, leptospirosis, shouldn’t be given to a small dog unless there’s an epidemic. C, Coronavirus, is for a very mild, rare disease of very young puppies. It’s often called a vaccine looking for a disease.  A is for adenovirus 2, a disease virtually unknown in North America. Read more about your vet’s duties to get your informed consent.

Additional articles of interest: Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots and see how long vaccines give immunity here under Point #6.
Rabies Vaccination: 13 Ways to Vaccinate More Safely
Vaccinating Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing
Protecting Dogs From Vaccine Reactions
How to Report Vaccine Reactions
Questions to Ask Before Vaccinating

***

Get Our Vaccination DVD: W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Ronald D. Schultz, PhD spoke at our Safer Pet Vaccination Benefit Seminar in March 2010. A DVD of the event is available. Buy it at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/New%20Shopping%20Cart/Check%20out%20page.htm Or learn more about it at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/saferpet. Learn more about rabies vaccination at www.truth4dogs.org and about vaccination in general at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/shots and at http://www.truth4dogs.com.

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Posted under Rabies Shots, Uncategorized, Vaccination, Vaccine Reactions, Veterinarians | 233 Comments » Email This Post

233 Comments to “What to Do When Your Dog Has a Vaccine Reaction”


  1. Jan Says:

    Barb, a vet who denies that it might be a reaction is probably not the right vet to treat the reaction. You need a vet who understands what is happening. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets

    I am not a vet, but I’m not a fan of Hills I/D. If you use it, I suspect canned would be better than dry. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/hills-prescription-diet-id-canine-dry/ If it were my dog, I’d continue the homemade.

  2. Jackie Thrower Says:

    My pup is currently having a reaction to the Lyme Disease vaccine. She has a huge lump filled with fluid on the injection site. Taking her back today and I am scared.

  3. Jan Says:

    Jackie, your dog is likely having an inflammatory response to the injection. If you’re not seeing any vomiting, hives, etc., it will probably resolve. It’s good to show it to your vet and make sure it’s noted in your dog’s file. If you need more advice, write again and I’ll try to help.

    Before vaccinating against anything else, please read http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ If your dog is small to medium in size, also read this: http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/vaccinating-small-pets/ Do not presume that your vet vaccinates using current guidelines. Most are out of date and will over-vaccinate. Your puppy’s future health depends on your educating yourself if you haven’t already.

  4. Beth Howes Says:

    My chocolate lab just received the Lyme disease vaccination and less than an hour later had three grand mal seizures in a row. We rushed him back to the vet where he was in the process of seizing when we arrived. They gave him valium and then came to talk to my husband and I. The first thing out of the vets mouth was I think he was just overly stressed from his recent office visit or this could be the first of idiopathic epilepsy. Ok I’m a nurse and have been a long time. So I stopped her and said no this is a reaction and sure enough she said it wasn’t. I said yes it is call the company. I go back tomorrow to pick up my other dogs antibiotics and I’m going to insist on a copy of the report to the manufacturer. When I asked what to do next she sent me home with a dose of valium and told me if he seizes again to bring him back. Is there anything else I can do to reverse the vaccine???

  5. Jan Says:

    Beth, it drives me crazy. If your dog had seized with the vet’s needle in his hands, he would have thought of an excuse for why it wasn’t the vaccine. It happens all the time. Report the reaction to the manufacturer. Sometimes they’ll pay for treatment. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/

    In my experience, you need a holistic vet to work on the reaction. http://truth4pets.org/vets/ You might also check out http://www.naturalrearing.com They may recommend thuja (thuya).

  6. Susan Says:

    Beth,

    I had a male Corgi who developed seizures less than a week after vaccines. I knew it was the vaccines but the vet said no. They wanted to do an MRI to check for a tumor but I knew he didn’t have a tumor. That first seizure was at age 5 and he lived to be 15 but was on Phenobarbitol his entire life. I don’t think the Valium alone will help. Go to the epi guardian angels website and you’ll get all the help you need. Bless you.

  7. Tiffini Ingram Says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for reading this email. My new puppy (approx 4 mos old and rescued from a homeless couple – red heeled mix) was vaccinated with DAPv and Rabies on 12/27. We had had this puppy for 4 days at this point and he was extremely healthy and was declared so by vet during wellness exam. Approximately 48 hours later puppy became sick and by following day was at another vet (First vet closed) where puppy had 104.9 fever, extreme lethargy and weakness. Given sub q fluids and amoxicillin and send home. Puppy continued to decline (Though fever was brought down with antibiotics, fan, cold compresss and ice chips) and cried out in pain when trying to stand. Early morning brought to ER vet (day 4 after vaccinations). Puppy in lots of pain, 102.5 temp, lethargy and inability to stand. X-rays, CBC, complete blood chemistry, cystocentesis and urinalysis all normal. Sent home with clavamox, tramadol and sub q fluids to administer, brought back following morning with little to no change, new tentative diagnosis possibly panosteitis though additional X-rays negative. Neurological exam good though inability to bear weight, extreme lethargy and pain remain. Sent home with rimadyl in additions to prior prescribed meds to continue.
    Please advise.
    Thank you so much.

  8. Jan Says:

    Tiffini, I have, unfortunately, heard this story many times. Vets give vaccines, refuse to connect vaccines to reactions, then give antibiotics and pain killers and charge for all kinds of tests — which do nothing to help with the reaction. You read my article on what to do and I can’t add to that. Gather info on the vaccine and call the manufacturer. If you can, get a holistic vet involved. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets They will understand what is happening. I wish I could do more.

  9. sheryl kroese Says:

    I have a number of my Scotties that need boosters or their first rabies vaccine… I called several vets looking for the best bargin and I was told that the least expensive vet gave rabvac3 … I have tried to find out if this brand has a more or less adverse reactions…. I had heard fort dodge did at one time… Can you give me some help?

  10. Jan Says:

    Sheryl, look for thimerosol free rabies vaccines: rabvac or merial TF. No mercury.

    Re boosters, experts say most adult dogs that had at least one “puppy shot” after 15-16 weeks of age don’t need them. Read this: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

  11. Sara Says:

    Hello
    I have an 11 year rescue male staffie. I had several calls and letters from my vet to get his booster so I brought him exactly a week ago. He had DHP and L2 vaccinations.
    Within 30 hours he had a massive seizure. He recovered within a few hours. Then 2 days later another. He has had smaller seizures for the past 2 days and today he keeps falling over as his back legs go.

    My vet is still in denial and got me to do bloods. Which were “surprisingly healthy” for his age (this vet has cared for him since I got him 14 months ago and knows he has had 3 operations in The past year)

    I am pro vaccine still but – shouldn’t my vet have told me there was a slight risk or perhaps broken up the dose in two stages not one shot? I’m not happy. Nobivac Is the manufacturer and I will contact them on Monday.

    I believe if seizures continues I must put him on. Anti seizure drugs for rest of his life? Heartbreaking watching this healthy dog struggle to get about. He’s exhausted from the seizures of course.

    Any advise? We are based in London.

    Thanks for a very helpful page here.
    Fingers and paws crossed for all dogs affected
    Sara and Rocco

  12. Jan Says:

    Sara, first, adult dogs rarely require boosters if immunized as puppies. Older dogs are more likely to have adverse reactions. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

    I’m not a seizure expert but I know some people do have luck with acupuncture. Try doing a search on something like natural methods for canine seizure control.

    One more thing: also do a web search on Leptospirosis. It causes lots of adverse reactions and in the U.S. does not protect well.

    Good luck.

  13. Suzanne Reep Says:

    I have a 7 year-old retired greyhound named Gibbs. He is on thyroid meds and has reoccurring staph infections on his body. He also has Pannus. Gibbs had a DHLP when I got him and had not planned on doing any more DHLP vacs ever. His rabies vac expired last spring. Because I live very close to a bayou and woods and also frequent a dog park, I had the vet give him his rabies vac two weeks ago. He was very lethargic afterwards. Two days after the vaccination, he started with some coughing and sneezing and sounded a bit congested. Those symptoms went away by the fourth day. He has no appetite now and is eating about a third of what he should. I took him to the vet yesterday, but my vet didn’t address my concerns. I was worried that he had swallowed plastic or shells so x-rays were done. Also did some blood work. Everything was fine. What can be done with homeopathic supplements? He seems to want to eat, but doesn’t. Is this a symptom of the rabies vaccination. He also being treated for Pannus. I now suspect that during his racing career he had a reaction to the rabies vaccinations. No more vacs of any kind for my boy Gibbs. I typically do not vaccinate my dogs over the age of 8. Suzanne and Gibbs in Gulf Shores, AL

  14. Jan Says:

    Suzanne, make sure the reaction is recorded in your dog’s file so you can get an exemption in the future.

    Lyssin is the usual (nosode) remedy of choice, but a vet homeopath knows more than I do. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets Or visit http://www.naturalrearing.com

    Before even thinking of vaccinating again, please read http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ It’s dogs over 8 MONTHS, not YEARS, that generally don’t need vaccines.

    The lack of appetite and lethargy are likely symptoms. Good luck.

  15. john s Says:

    Our 10 week old female Parti-Color Yorkie (~2.5 lb) started vomiting and convulsing (grand mal) 12 hours after getting her 3rd puppy vaccine. She convulsed 3 or 4 times and then started continuously tremoring side to side and only stopped when she fell asleep or laid down with her chin firmly pushing on the floor. I told my wife she was doing Joe Cocker immitations. I am a pharmacist and immediately gave her 250mg of DHA (1/2 tsp Calson’s Finest Fish Oil) 4 times/day. The next day we went to the vet and she started her on a small daily dose of prednisone for 5 days. Within a few days the tremors stopped. Our vet told us not to sell the puppy. She is now 2 years old and has had no visible effects.

    The vaccine was made by Merial and I talked to the medical staff there who refused to acknowledge that this reaction was caused by their vaccine. I even sent them a video of the dog tremoring back and forth. I was disturbed to find out that all dogs receive the same vaccine – so a St Bernard puppy gets the same dose as a 2lb Yorkie. I would think that at least the vaccine adjuvant would be reduced for smaller dogs. A bad story with a good ending.

  16. Jan Says:

    Hi John. Thanks for writing.

    Why did you use DHA? I haven’t heard of using it for vax reactions. I’m glad it worked.

    Here’s some info on vaccination that might interest you. http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/vaccinating-small-pets/ and http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ I can email you the study on small dogs if you like.

  17. Christin L. Goff Says:

    I have a terrier mix, aged 11–took her in for a check up and shots (rabies booster, distemper–vet said she needed both)…now a week later she will not move or eat. I didn’t think it was related to the vaccines at first (she has hurt her back in the past from chasing squirrels–), but now after reading this thread, I am convinced it was the vaccines (amount? too close together? chemicals?) She was fine before taking her in and now she is refusing all food. I am devastated.

  18. Jan Says:

    Christin, rabies should not be given with another vaccine. why did your vet do this? Why should a senior dog get a puppy shot (distemper)?

    Find a holistic vet. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets Contact the vaccine maker. Raise hell.

    Is your dog having a problem with her rear end coordination?

  19. Molly Mechant Says:

    My six year French bulldog had her rabies shot 6 days ago. The first time she had her shot , 3 years ago she had an allergic reaction; facial swelling. We gave her Benadryl and it went away after a day. This time we gave her Benadryl a hour before getting her shot. She developed the facial swelling again so we gave her another dose and it went away after 24 hours. Since last Friday she’s worse. She wont eat and is lethargic. We have been to the animal hospital 3 times in 6 days. They gave her injections which include anti-nausea, Benadryl, epinephrine and fluids. She is not getting any better. I’m really worried. The vet recommended she be hospitalized for 24-48 hours to flush out her body. I don’t know if they really know what to do????

  20. Jan Says:

    Molly, your dog should have never gotten a vaccine that caused an allergic reaction. If your vet did this knowingly, fire him/her.

    I would contact a holistic vet asap. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets There are a few who will help by phone, like Dr. Loops.

    There is a remedy called Lyssin but it’s tough to find. And this is Friday so getting something shipped will be a problem. Where do you live?

  21. Jan Says:

    Molly, you can find Lyssinum here. http://www.elixirs.com/prodSearch.cfm?ProductName=lyssin&ProductCategory=All+Categories

    You can, in the meantime, you can try thuya (aka thuja)30 C from your local health food store. Both of these are common remedies, but know that I’m neither a vet nor a homeopath.

  22. Bridgett ONeil Says:

    We took our 9 year old beagle Baxter to be tested for Cushions Disease. He was @ vet all day. He was fine when he returned home. This was February 3, 2017. On February 16, 2017, Baxter was in horrible pain. I rushed him to the vet. X-rays of his next N spine showed no ruptured disc or herniated disc. He was sent home with Tramadol & Rimadyl. No comfort. Doctor ordered him on Monday Gabapenten. He started to come around N on Friday, he refused his meds to wake up Saturday yipping. I have been given him massages N putting ice pack N heat on him. We along w/him N the other pups are sleep deprived. I need advice N help. My heart is shattered, I should have never allowed that vet to talk me into allowing him to be tested…I am not sure what the testing injection meds did to my baby…Please Help Baxter Lhuv … He is positive for Cushions Disease but because of No cure, we are against treatment. Please help us help our baby.. Rt

  23. Jan Says:

    Bridgett, get a copy of your dog’s file and see what happened. I wonder if they gave him a vaccine. Or maybe he jerked while the needle was in. Something went wrong. Contact manufacturers for injected dru.

    Lots of dogs live good lives with Cushings. Contact a holistic vet. http://www.truth4pets.org/vets Treatment is tedious but worthwhile

  24. Leila Says:

    I am despondent over my current ordeal with my 7-yr-old pitbull/bulldog, Sparkle, and I guess I am looking for a word of hope. I have an appt with a holistic vet in 5 days which can’t come soon enough.

    In January at a routine check-up, Sparkle got annual boosters for canine influenza and leptospirosis. She was presenting with a new, slight, flank alopecia, and I reported that she’d had a bout of vomiting/diarrhea within the last few days. No warnings offered about vaccinations. Well the bloodwork from that day came back indicating that her albumin already was low — 2.4 — and vet advised us to come back in a month to check it again. In that span after the vaccinations, poor Sparkle’s condition deteriorated significantly and I just SO SO wish I knew then what I know now about the risks! By Feb 21, her albumin had dropped to 1.8, and on Feb 23 she had a clear ultrasound, so we did an endoscopy. Vet also put her on prednisone as of Feb 23. She’s now been diagnosed (through biopsy) with IBD and intestinal crypt abscesses (vet said good news is caught them before reaching point of fybrosis). With this new confirmed diagnosis, Sparkle is being kept on the prednisone and has been prescribed metronidazole for her diarrhea and 4-6 weeks on zeniquin for the abscesses.

    I cannot forgive myself, and I am torn to pieces inside wanting to get on the right course for her …. I am terrified not to give her these prescribed meds, given how quickly her condition worsened, but on the other hand, I also now feel like we’re in territory where I don’t trust conventional protocols. The thought that I could inflict more harm on Sparkle while trying to help her is more than I can bear.

    If the vaccines triggered or exacerbated this condition (which now seems obvious), is it reversible or manageable? I am committed to getting her on a real food diet and proper holistic guidance/treatment/therapy from here on out, and realize this will be a constant part of our lives now. I just hope we can turn it around. Heartbroken.

    I am thinking I will stick with the prednisone and antibiotics at least until my holistic appt in 5 days (won’t start zeniquin for a couple days) …. I realize these meds will only suppress her symptoms, but my hope is that it will at least help to stop/stabilize things from getting worse, without on balance doing appreciable harm. I’m also giving her slippery elm powder and just started a prescribed probiotic called proviable. 🙁

  25. Jan Says:

    Leila, your vet gave your poor dog two vaccines that were likely unnecessary, and both of which are quite reactive; giving them together made it even worse. And giving it to a symptomatic dog is unconscionable. All vaccines say on their label “for healthy dogs only.” I hope your reporter that to hear State Veterinary Association. They won’t likely do anything but you can make the vet think twice before doing this to another dog.

    A holistic that is your best bet. You need to see a vet that knows how to treat a vaccine reaction.

    Make sure that you report the reaction to the drug manufacturer and make sure that your vet does as well. And make sure that the vet recorded the reaction in the dogs file. And get a copy of the dog’s file. Then fire the vet. He or she has likely made an awful lot of money from you, first with the three vaccines that were likely unnecessary and secondly with the treatments that followed. I am so sorry you and your dog are having to go through all this. It is all too common.

    You might try to see if the vaccine manufacturers will help with your dogs treatment but they will likely say that your dog should not have been vaccinated in the first place.

    On my website Truth4pets.org there is some more information. Be sure to read the post on questions to ask before vaccinating. There’s also a lot of links to organizations that tell you a lot about various vaccines. I don’t know where you live, but leptospirosis is for outdoor dogs that play in wetlands and woodlands. It is often ineffective for certain strains. I am not a veterinarian but I suspect that the holistic that will tell you not to vaccinate anymore. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.

    I wish you and Sparkle good luck.

  26. Leila Says:

    Jan, thank you for your response, and correct on all counts. Appreciate the focus on documenting the vaccine reaction, both for the sake of accountability, and also down the road for Sparkle, when we’re faced with the prospect of another vaccine. I hadn’t focused on that yet (right now in triage mode), but I can tell you she’s getting unnecessary vaccine over my dead body.

    I have a long relationship with this vet with other pets, which makes this all the more disappointing. And I am so angry at myself — in hindsight the issue was obvious and I should have been attuned, I am just horrified. I have focused on so many different aspects of Sparkle’s health, comfort, happiness … this was a blind spot, and the only possible good I’m trying to hold onto is that I now see so clearly the importance of focusing on what her body is telling us, being an active participant in her healthcare, and realizing conventional veterinary medicine is not just limited or incomplete — it can be downright dangerous. I just hope I’ve woken up in time to help Sparkle have a full life.

    Yes, the costs are staggering, I’ve haven’t come to terms with that yet either. Documenting things, and will see what I can do, but I believe you’re correct that the manufacturer will cite a significant judgment factor (especially given the alopecia!).

    She seems to be doing better. The IBD is diagnosed as mild, and no other red flags other than the abscesses (which apparently are often caused by something else (e.g., lymphangiectasia or lymphoma), but all other tests and indicators for Sparkle are clear). My suspicion is that she had mild IBD (which even traditional literature says is often treatable with a diet change), and then the vaccines kicked her immune system into over-drive, leading to the abscesses (which are caused by build up of “PNMs”, known as the immune system’s “first responders”).

    Thank you, again, for the support and solidarity in your posts and the comment threads, and for maintaining this website. If there are more notable developments I will report back.

  27. Jan Says:

    Leila, thanks for writing again. I saw one thing that bothered me. There is no such thing as a necessary vaccine for an adult dog, especially a dog who has had a vaccine reaction. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ and http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/titer-testing/

    I wish you and Sparkle all the luck in the world.

  28. Leila Says:

    Thank you for writing again. I have been persistent with Sparkle’s primary vet, and her specialist, about having a reaction documented in her file, and believe me I will NOT vaccinate Sparkle again. Where required by law, will do absolutely everything I can through titer testing and/or getting the right documentation for a waiver. I don’t board Sparkle so really it’s just licensing requirements, so will do the homework to be able to protect her.

    The good news is, Sparkle’s albumin is back to normal at 3.4 — only about ten days after testing at 1.8. I strongly suspect the 1.8 was a combination of her already having a compromised system, then getting Canine Influenza and Lepto.

    Relieved to be seeing a good holistic vet (one visit so far). Looking forward to next visit because I’m confused by her diagnosis/meds. For almost exactly two weeks now she has been treated aggressively for the low albumin and crypt abscesses — prednisone, metronidazole, enrofloxacin. We lowered the pred with her good albumin level, but I’m still confused why she needs all this …crypt abscesses are serious — that must be why — but all her other results and symptoms are mild, so I just don’t get the abscesses, and I’m anxious with her on all these strong meds w/ potential side effects or the possibility of harming her system rather than helping. She’s doing well, and I feel like we should be working on gut health/diet, worried the heavy antibiotics/steroid are preventing her ability to heal. Supposed to be on all this for another month … if this is what we need to do for the abscesses, and b/c of risk albumin will drop again I’ll do it, as I don’t want to risk a worsening situation. Something just isn’t adding up for me.

    Next visit with holistic doctor tomorrow. In first visit (before new blood test result) he was inclined to go with the prescribed short aggressive course of meds (agreed with me though not to accept that it is likely “indefinite”). And maybe we now can revisit. He is obviously more attuned to the role of the vaccinations … it really is enraging that conventional veterinarians push these boosters as if they’re a matter of medical urgency, and then are so dismissive about consequences.

  29. Karen Peres Says:

    I live in Arizona, where 50 dogs have recently contracted Lepto from one dogpark. I’m told that Lepto is extremely rare in our climate. I let my mom influence my decision to get my dog the vaccine 3 weeks ago because we go to that dogpark on a consistent basis.

    Merlin is a 9 year old, 12 lb Papilllon mix in excellent health. Last week, he had an extended reverse sneeze-type attack, which has never happened before, and I wonder if the vaccine is to blame?

    I regret getting the vaccine, and want to cancel the booster scheduled for next week.

    What do you think?
    Thanks in advance.
    Karen
    🙂

  30. Jan Says:

    Karen, I’m not a vet. I do believe that Lepto is a dangerous vaccine for small dogs especially. One vaccine seller used to mention this on their website and I’ve read it elsewhere as well. Did it cause the reaction? It would have affected his immune system. That may, in turn, have caused the reaction. Or not. It’s hard to say. You might read this: http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/vaccinating-small-pets/ and http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

    Know that Lepto has to be given frequently to be effective — if it is effective at all for the local strain. You might want to read this: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-vaccinations-detox/

    Good luck. Make a decision that feels right. That’s all you can do.

  31. Leila Says:

    Chiming in w/r/t Karen —

    I believe the Lepto vaccine was a significant contributor to Sparkle’s recent protein loss and infection in her small intestine. A month after the vaccine, the protein level in her blood dropped to a dangerous level. Also, while Sparkle has always had fairly frequent bouts of diarrhea, in piecing together her history — 2 of the 3 times she has become intensely ill (vomiting/diarrhea frequently over 24-48 hr period) were within a couple weeks of the Lepto vaccine.

    Thankfully with intervention, her blood protein was back to a normal range in 10 days, but she now will be on prednisone and 2 antibiotics for the next month to address crypt abscesses in her small intestine, which we think were the source of the protein loss. From there we’ll have to see where things stand; her conventional doctors believe her condition is genetic and she’ll likely need to be on at least a low dose of medication her whole life. Her holistic doctor agrees there likely was a trigger (such as the Lepto) and therefore sees reason to believe that once we get through this course of meds to address the abscesses, we have a good chance to get her on a healthy track from there — and avoid long term antibiotics/ steroids.

    I cannot stress enough what Jan and others have said — it is critical to find a holistic vet whom you trust. If there isn’t one in your area, perhaps at least a telephone consultation. If my conventional vets had properly appreciated the dangers of vaccinations, Sparkle very likely wouldn’t be in the situation she is in. And they can’t properly treat her if they opt for default, unverifiable explanations (“genetics”) that point them toward harmful solutions (e.g., meds for life).

    Whatever you decide on the booster, you could also research herbal supplements/remedies that help to offset and repair damage from vaccinations (even ones from a long time ago). Speaking purely from my own experience, you may find one that you feel comfortable to use immediately, even before you get to a holistic vet (herbs are generally very safe, but obviously I am not a vet, and my experience is only recent, so please research carefully and as always trust your own judgment).

  32. Dorothy Says:

    Recently we had a 9 week old 18.4 pound Labrador retriever puppy that had an allergic reaction to something three days after receiving his 5-way shot. He went to his new home after having a steroid shot and fast acting antihistamine shot to reduce the hives and itching he was experiencing. He was placed on benedryl for three days. On the third day he was diagnosed with Parvo but recovered completely within 36 hours. None of the other 7 dogs, adults and puppies had Parvo. Precautions were put in place and all dogs tested to be sure. Could the live virus in his system attack him when his immune system was suppressed to help with the allergic reaction he experienced? I am just so confused as to what could have happened.

  33. Jan Says:

    Dorothy, yes, a live vaccine can cause the disease it is meant to prevent.

    The likely reason for the allergic reaction was too many vaccines at once, most of them likely unnecessary. Please read http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ Make sure the drug maker knows what happened. Tell the vet to call them as well. Ask for compensation from the drug maker. Their vaccine shouldn’t cause the disease.

    Find a vet who isn’t so shot happy. Parvo and distemper are necessary. The other ones, maybe not. What were they?

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