What Are the Dangers of Parvo & Distemper Dog Shots?

Vaccine dangers are typically rare.
Vaccine dangers are typically rare. (Image: dog image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com)

Although the canine parvovirus and distemper vaccines are generally safe, potentially deadly side effects are a possibility. While most side effects are minor, they can also be quite serious, causing a dog to become very sick. In most cases, however, the benefits of receiving vaccinations far outweigh the risks. If you are concerned about the potential dangers of the distemper and parvovirus vaccinations, consult with your dog’s veterinarian.

Neurological Symptoms

According to Dr. Holly Nash of Doctors Foster and Smith, neurological symptoms can occur after the distemper vaccine is given. In fact, distemper vaccines are the most common cause of neurological disease because they can cause an inflammation in the brain. Neurological symptoms can include difficulty walking, such as staggering and limping.

Lethargy, Fever and Decrease in Appetite

Dogs that receive the distemper and parvovirus vaccines often become lethargic afterwards. This is due to the live virus that is injected into their bodies, according to the Pet Informed website. The dog’s body tries to fight off this virus, leaving it tired and often listless. Sometimes, the dog will even experience a fever, and may refuse to eat. Most of these symptoms go away within a day or two.

Anaphylactic Shock

While rare, anaphylactic shock is a possible danger of receiving the distemper and parvovirus vaccines. Shock occurs because the dog is highly allergic to a component in the vaccine. Dogs in anaphylactic shock can experience increased heart rates, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, coma, and facial swelling. If the shock isn’t treated, the dog can die. This type of reaction typically occurs within minutes to 24 hours after the vaccine is given. Fortunately, anaphylactic shock occurs in only about one out of 15,000 vaccines administered, states Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin College of Veterinary Medicine.

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