Shots! Shots! Shots!

Paper Trained
Scott Sandeman, D.V.M.
          Q.)  My son lives in another state with his 5-year old, 5-pound Morkie, Apollo. The last time my son took Apollo for his shots, they gave him 4 shots, all in the same leg.  The poor dog couldn't walk for 3 days. 
 Can you tell me what the recommended vaccine regimen is for dogs?  
         A.)I feel bad for Apollo-nobody likes to be in pain from something that is designed to protect us-not harm.  Unfortunately, it is a fact that      some patients with some vaccines may have a reaction.  Localized pain is one of the side effects that can occur and in a few pets, the discomfort can be significant.  The good news is that is seldom lasts longer than 12-24 hours and is rarely serious enough to require aggressive treatment.  In the vast majority of cases, the pain can minimized with cold compresses and/or the administration of a dog specific anti-inflammatory medication.  
    Make sure your son’s veterinarian knows about the discomfort from the last vaccination series so that either the offending vaccine can be identified by dividing them up into different trips or anticipating that some pain will occur again and administering anti-inflammatory medication before or at the time of the injections.  In some cases, a vaccine may just need to be dropped if the risks of that disease are minimal but the reaction is repeatable and significant.
   The last point is important as only a few vaccines are considered essential or “core vaccines”.  Rabies or distemper vaccine would fall into this category –they may be required by law or local ordinance or even by a facility or play area that they visit.  Other vaccines like those that protect against leptospirosis can be very important in some locations but carry such a small risk in other places that it could be safely skipped, especially if a vaccine reaction was imminent.   Your son’s veterinarian is the best source of information for his specific area and the vaccines he thinks Morkie should receive.

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