Everyone knows it’s important to vaccinate our furry friends, and most of us take them to the vets every year for their booster without thinking twice about it – but has your dog ever had a reaction or a scare because of the vaccinations?
One of our has and it was a bit scary at the time!
Can Dogs Have Reactions To Vaccinations?
Yes! Years ago, we had a Staffy called Honey, she was a gorgeous brindle & white colour and was excellent with the kids (as all staffies are!)
We took her to the vets for her first yearly booster, everything went fine at the vets, we came home and then about an hour later she was fast asleep in her basket. She didn’t disturb when the kids were making noises like she usually did but I just thought she was feeling a bit sorry for herself because of her jab.
A little while later I dished up her tea and called her over to the bowl, as she moved to get up she squealed really loudly – scaring the crap out of me! She sounded like she was in so much pain I rushed over to her quickly and she just skulked on the ground not moving and looked very sorry for herself.
I felt her all over and she didn’t moan, so encouraged her to sit up, causing her to squeal again. She tried to run to the other side of the room and yelped repeatedly. She was holding her neck at a funny angle and I wondered whether she’s got a bit of cramp in her neck, but then thought maybe it was the vaccination (even though she had never had any probs as a puppy).
I felt her neck and couldn’t feel any lump and there was no blood or anything, she let me touch her neck and so I gently rubbed it in case it was a bit of cramp.
Every time she tried to move, she squealed (really badly) so I picked her up and put her in her basket, with her food.
She didn’t even stand, the pain and sorrow in her eyes was horrible to see and my gut wrenched in sympathy for her.
Getting Professional Advice
I called my hubby at work and told him, he agreed it might be because of the jab so I called the vet. They asked some questions including whether she had ever had any reaction before or earlier on in the day, I said no and so the vet said I could bring her in or give her a few more hours but if she showed any other symptoms such as passing out, sickness, itchy rash, lumps or bleeding then to bring her in asap.
I wasn’t happy about waiting because I was getting quite anxious at her completely different behaviour and the horrible squealing, but the vet seemed reassuring and not too concerned so I decided to wait a while. Another hour later and she hadn’t moved and neither had I! )I kept my eyes glued to her for the next 48 hours lol.)
About 2 hours after I’d tried giving her food and drink in her basket, I tried to encourage her to go outside for the loo. She yelped and collapsed on to the floor – I panicked! – checking her over again there were still no signs of any other symptoms or problems.
She was awake and aware though, so I loved her up again and slowly moved a step at a time towards the door, calling her to me each time, she eventually (painfully) got outside and with a crooked neck managed to use the loo.
Getting her back inside was worse, she just yelped and squealed and then refused to move so I ended up carrying her in, she was whimpering the whole time I carried her so I took her to the vets.
Get to the Vets (Even Out-of-Hours!)
I gave them a quick call to say I was coming in, as it was out of hours now and we didn’t have any insurance or anything I was kind of dreading the cost!!
The vet gave her some liquid painkillers via a little pipette/tube and then looked her all over. The vet was very gentle and really thorough to be fair, we hadn’t seen him before as he was from a different branch.
I was a bit worried that because the vet was new and Honey being in pain, that she might be awkward with him, but she was perfectly fine bless her. She was friendly and gentle and let him do what he needed to. (Another testament to the true nature of a loving Staffordshire Bull Terrier!)
The vet checked her heart, chest, ears, eyes and the usual checks, checked for rashed and lumps and said it must be a reaction to the vaccination. He checked the records to see what vaccination she had been given and said it was the same thing she had been given as a younger pup.
They asked me if I wanted her to stay there overnight – for my peace of mind – and I said no because I didn’t want to be away from her but then I thought it might be best just in case, I really dithered about making the decision and kept changing my mind not knowing what to do for the best!!
The vet assured me she would be fine at home and just to try and keep her still and let her sleep it off and see how she was the next day.
So I bundled her back in her blanket and put her back on the froint seat of the car, her looking sweetly at me the whole time as if she was asking me why she hurt so much. (My heart was melting!!)
Rest, Rest and More Rest…
Once home, we put her in bed in our bedroom with water and food close by and then left her alone, checking on her every hour or so and resisting checking every 5 minutes…
I felt much better when we went up to bed, so we were at least in the same room as her (I did check a zillion times whether she was still breathing or not…).
I (hardly) slept all night with my arm out of the bed touching her cheek and she slept soundly all night! When it came to the morning and going out for a piddle I was dreading hearing that awful squealing again – it sounded like a strangled pig!
She got up slowly and carefully, and started to wag her tail ever so gently, she panted at me and did her usual, gorgeous staffy smile! She didn’t squeal or yelp and just enjoyed a fuss – what a relief!
The relief and happiness I felt was unreal – I love my dogs like my kids and was so worried about her – I had hardly slept all night with worry!
We took her downstairs and she walked down herself and then ran out into the garden. She mooched around for the perfect spot, used the loo and then came bounding back towards us. She ate all of her breakfast and then begged for more, drank a full bowlful of water and then tried to go back upstairs to wake the older kids as she usually did!
Such A Relief!
The vets phoned me partway through the morning to check on her and when I explained they just laughed and said she must’ve been feeling sorry for herself.
I took her back in that day just for a quick check over, for my own peace of mind again and she bounded all over the car all the way there, tried to befriend everyone in the waiting room as she usually did and then licked the vet to death once in the consulting room lol!
She hardly sat still as he tried to look her over and so I knew she was back to her normal staffy self!
A year later and I was dreading having her vaccinated again, I spoke to the vets in advance and the nurses were really kind and understanding of my worry (and almost-paranoia) about it all.
When we went in they were really good at looking after me and fussing Honey (as she demanded), they gave her the jab and she didn’t bat an eyelid!
We waited in the waiting room for an hour afterwards, just because I was worried about any reactions, but Honey just kept trying to make friends with all the other patients while we waited and enjoyed treats from the nurses the whole time.
Honey was never phased or put off going to the vets, even though she was in so much pain and scared after the incident. She never had any other reactions to anything either for the rest of her life.
The vet said she was either feeling sorry for herself and being a bit of a baby over it, or it was just one of those things. They didn’t class it as a severe reaction as she had no other issues or symptoms, but it was put in her notes. The nurses and vets asked about it every time we went for flea, worm and vaccs treatment after that – just to be on the safe side I suppose.
I had never felt so scared for a dog before and it was a relatively small simple thing, and sometimes I do feel a bit silly about it, but that was how I felt at the time – if it ever happened again I think I would be calmer but still worry as much!
Better To Be Safe Than Sorry!
I thought it was a bit scary with what happened to Honey, and it could’ve been much worse, but we ended up having much worse problems with our other Staffy, Henry!!
It just shows that vets and nurses are trained to deal with owners issues as much as their pets! They were fantastic and I will always be grateful to them for humouring me!
If (God forbid) your dog ever has a reaction to a vaccination or anything else – don’t feel silly or think the vets will judge you, take your dog to them. They will check them over and make them better if needs be and if nothing else they will help you understand what has happened and reassure you.
There is no point worrying when you could be informed and reassured by the professionals – our dogs pick up on our stress and worry too remember, so you worrying won’t do them any good either.
Having pet insurance wouldn’t be a bad idea either – we did pay a bit out to the vets for the out-of-hours appointment fee, but it wasn’t much more than we would’ve normally paid really so it was ok. It was worth paying to make sure Honey was ok and for peace of mind.