Post-Vax Precautions. 3 Dos and Don’ts After Your Dog’s Vaccination


Getting your dog vaccinated is one of the most important things you can do as a pet owner. Vaccines help prevent many dangerous and potentially fatal diseases like parvovirus, distemper, rabies and more. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), core vaccines are “those that protect from diseases that cause significant illness and spread readily to other animals” (source). Keeping your dog up-to-date on these core vaccines can save their life.

While vaccines provide vital protection, it’s also key to follow proper care instructions from your vet after your dog receives their shots. There are several dos and don’ts to follow during the days and weeks following vaccination to ensure your dog avoids potential side effects and fully builds immunity. This guide will overview what to watch for after vaccination and provide tips to keep your dog comfortable, healthy and safe.

Get Your Dog Vaccinated on Schedule

There are certain core vaccines that all dogs should receive to protect against deadly diseases according to veterinary recommendations. The main core vaccines for dogs include:

– Distemper: Spread through airborne exposure and contact, distemper attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Puppies need a three-dose vaccine series starting as early as 6-8 weeks old with boosters every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks old. After the puppy series, boosters are needed every 1-3 years depending on risk and vaccine type. [1]

– Parvovirus: Spread through contact with infected feces and environments, parvo attacks the gastrointestinal system and can lead to severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Puppies need the parvo vaccine starting around 6-8 weeks old with a series of boosters 2-4 weeks apart until they’re 16-20 weeks old. Boosters are needed every 1-3 years for adult dogs depending on risk factors. [2]

– Rabies: Rabies is transmitted through saliva from infected animals and is nearly 100% fatal once symptoms appear. The rabies vaccine is legally required for dogs in most areas starting around 12-16 weeks of age, followed by boosters every 1-3 years based on risk and vaccine type.

– Other core vaccines like adenovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and bordetella may be recommended depending on your dog’s risk factors and lifestyle. Discuss an appropriate vaccination schedule with your veterinarian.

Watch for Side Effects

dog resting after getting vaccine injection

Possible side effects that can occur after your dog receives vaccinations include lethargy, mild fever, and local reactions at the injection site according to Ruckersville Vets. The most common reactions are soreness or swelling around the injection site that may last a couple days. Some dogs may also experience a mild fever or act lethargic after vaccination.

As noted by Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, more severe reactions like facial swelling, hives, or vomiting are very rare. If your dog has an allergic reaction, contact your vet immediately. Most side effects last no more than a day or two before your dog returns to normal.

Restrict Activity

It’s important to restrict your dog’s activity for 1-2 days after getting vaccinated to allow their immune system to respond properly. The vaccines stimulate the immune system, so [VCA Animal Hospitals]( recommends avoiding strenuous activity that could potentially suppress the immune response. Exercising, playing roughly, or letting your dog run around off-leash should be avoided temporarily. Letting your dog rest will give their body the chance to focus energy on developing immunity through the vaccine.

Some minor side effects like fatigue and decreased activity levels are common after vaccination according to [VCA Animal Hospitals](, so restricting exercise can help your dog recover. Take walks at a gentle pace and limit playtime for a day or two. Your dog may act less energetic due to the immune response, so allowing them quiet time to rest supports their recovery.

It’s understandable to want to continue your dog’s normal routine, but limiting activity and stimulation for the first couple days after vaccination benefits their health. Their immune system is hard at work and needs energy focused on building defenses. Once your dog is back to normal energy levels, you can resume regular exercise and play. Avoiding strenuous post-vaccine activity optimizes their immune response.

Continue Flea/Tick Prevention

It’s crucial to continue using flea and tick medication without any gaps in coverage after your dog receives vaccinations. According to Pet Wellness Clinics, vaccines don’t provide complete protection against fleas and ticks. They simply help your dog’s immune system respond better if bitten. Flea and tick preventatives like Bravecto and Simparica stop infestations before they start by killing fleas and ticks when they bite your dog.

Per Pet Focus Canada, the Lyme vaccine is only about 80% effective at preventing disease. Ticks can still transmit other dangerous diseases like anaplasmosis even if your dog is vaccinated against Lyme disease. Using monthly flea/tick medication is imperative for fully protecting your dog’s health after vaccination. Don’t discontinue any topical or oral preventatives you were using before the vaccine doses.

Avoid Dog Parks

It’s best to avoid taking your dog to public dog parks for 1-2 weeks after vaccination. Even though your puppy has started their vaccination schedule, they are not fully protected until a week or two after their final round of core vaccines. According to veterinarians, taking them into dog parks too soon exposes them to infectious diseases like distemper, parvovirus, and kennel cough before immunity has fully developed.

no dogs allowed sign on fence

Puppies’ immune systems are still maturing, so they are highly susceptible to illness. Canine distemper and parvovirus are airborne and extremely contagious. These deadly viruses can live for months in environments like dog parks. It’s crucial to limit your puppy’s exposure until vaccines have time to fully protect them.

Your vet may recommend waiting until a week after your puppy’s final distemper/parvovirus vaccine to allow immunity to build. Once your veterinarian gives you the green light, you can start socializing your pup at dog parks. But continue monitoring them closely and avoid parks with sick dogs.

Monitor Appetite

It’s common for a dog’s appetite to be reduced for a day or so after getting vaccinated. The immune response triggered by the vaccine can result in mild nausea or general malaise. Don’t panic if your dog refuses his normal food, but do keep an eye on his eating habits.

Try hand feeding your dog small portions of his favorite foods to encourage eating. You can also try warming up the food, adding a bit of low-sodium chicken broth, or mixing in some canned food for extra aroma and palatability. Avoid giving fatty foods, though, as this may further upset his stomach.

If your dog still refuses food after 24 hours, call your veterinarian. They may prescribe anti-nausea medication or suggest other ways to stimulate appetite after vaccination. With some patience and coaxing, your dog’s appetite should return to normal within a day or two.

It’s important to keep your dog well-hydrated, so make sure fresh water is always available. You can also try ice cubes or bone broth ice pops to pique interest and provide hydration.

By monitoring your dog’s appetite and adjusting food as needed, you can keep your pup properly nourished while his immune system recovers from the vaccine. With some extra TLC during this time, his appetite should bounce back quickly.


Relieve Discomfort

It’s normal for your dog to experience some discomfort after getting vaccinated. The injection site may be sore, swollen, or warm to the touch. Your dog may act lethargic or have a mild fever. There are a few things you can do at home to help relieve any pain or discomfort:

woman applying cold pack to dog's sore injection site

  • Apply a cold compress over the injection site for 10-15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and soothe soreness.
  • Give your dog over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help with fever, swelling, and overall achiness. Always follow dosage directions carefully and do not exceed the recommended amount.
  • Let your dog rest as much as needed – the vaccine puts strain on their immune system so extra sleep promotes healing.
  • Limit exercise and stimulation to avoid exacerbating pain and fatigue.
  • Gently massage the injection area to increase blood flow and relieve muscle tension.

With time and rest, your dog should start feeling like their normal self again. If discomfort persists beyond a day or two, call your veterinarian for guidance on providing relief and pain management at home.

Call Your Vet

You should call your veterinarian if your dog experiences any concerning side effects after getting vaccinated. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should contact your vet if side effects last for more than a day or two, or if your dog seems extremely uncomfortable after vaccination.1

While most reactions are mild and temporary, some dogs can have more serious vaccine reactions. Call your vet right away if your dog experiences any of the following after getting vaccinated:2

  • Facial swelling
  • Hives or welts on the skin
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

Your vet can examine your dog and provide prompt treatment for any concerning vaccine reactions. Calling right away gives your vet the best chance of intervening and minimizing any negative effects from the vaccine. Do not wait to see if the symptoms resolve on their own.

Stay Up-to-Date

veterinarian giving vaccine booster shot to dog
It’s important to stay up-to-date on your dog’s vaccine boosters and regularly scheduled vet visits. Vaccines lose potency over time, so dog vaccination schedules recommend administering booster shots at specific intervals to ensure your dog remains fully protected. Most core vaccines like rabies, distemper, parvo and adenovirus have an initial series followed by annual or triennial boosters. Leptospirosis may require boosters every 6-12 months since immunity can wane more quickly. Your vet will recommend the appropriate vaccination schedule for your dog based on lifestyle, age and risk factors. Be sure to keep a record of when your dog receives each vaccine and make a calendar reminder for when boosters are due. Staying current on vaccines is the best way to defend your dog against dangerous but preventable contagious diseases. Protect your canine companion for life by following your vet’s recommendations for timely vaccine boosters.

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