Certain vaccinations for companion animals are recommended or required depending on where the pet will be living. Just like immunizations administered to humans, pet vaccinations are designed to help pets develop immunities to certain diseases.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation notes that vaccinations are often accompanied by mild side effects. But some pets might experience more serious reactions to certain vaccinations. This can be particularly disconcerting to pet owners who are vaccinating new pets for the first time.

Vaccines remain one of the most important weapons in the fight against infectious diseases in companion animals. But if the vaccine reactions prove to be worse than the disease itself, the ASPCA notes that pet owners will need to work with their veterinarians about the best course of action.

Minor reactions to vaccinations may include local swelling at the vaccination site and some discomfort. Sneezing, mild coughing and low-grade fever also can be common.

More serious side effects generally involve allergic reactions. Such reactions can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Some indicators of vaccine allergies include facial swelling, itching, weakness, difficulty breathing, and even shock. According to the medical team at Petfinder.com, allergic reactions are often treated with antihistamines, epinephrine and supportive care.

In combined vaccines, which are those that administer two or more vaccines in a single shot, it may be difficult to determine which vaccination triggered the allergic reaction, or if the reaction was caused by a preservative or other foreign matter in the vaccine. It may be adviseable to have new pets receive only one vaccination at a time to best monitor reactions.

If an allergy is noted, and the allergy arises again with revaccination or a booster shot, then steps must be taken to reduce the propensity for the reaction moving forward. This may include administering antihistamines prior to the vaccine if it is a mandatory immunization.

Pet owners should speak with their veterinarians about the risks of skipping required vaccines.

Animals can experience mild to serious side effects after receiving routine vaccinations. Pet owners should weigh the benefits of the vaccines with their veterinarians to develop the best health plan for their pets.

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