What Are Vaccine Reactions and Sarcoma in Dogs?
Vaccine reactions in dogs can occur in a number of ways, including immediate reactions as well as long-term responses. Recognizing the signs of a reaction or other vaccine response is the key to preventing health issues. The most common vaccine reaction occurs shortly after a vaccination has been given.
Dogs may experience symptoms, such as swelling or redness at the injection site or pain when touched in the area. Long-term reactions may progress to full body or facial swelling, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. These may be life threatening, depending on the location of swelling.
Vaccine reactions occur when the body has an overactive immune response to the vaccine. Many vaccines are given as either a live strain or killed strain, which may cause the body to react in different ways. The body then mounts an immune response to the location of the vaccine, much like it would for a bug bite or sting. The body swells as cells filled with histamine reach the area. Vaccine reactions can be life threatening, especially if the swelling is near the face or throat, blocking the airways.
Sarcomas are a long-term cancerous reaction to a vaccine. The exact mechanism as to why a sarcoma may appear is unknown; however, it is less common in dogs than in cats. Sarcomas are a tumor that appears at the site of previous reactions and can be deadly if allowed to spread to other parts of the body. The most common vaccine associated with sarcoma in dogs is the rabies vaccine.
How Can I Prevent Vaccine Reactions and Sarcoma in My Dog?
Several things can be done to help prevent a vaccine reaction from happening in your dog. Usually, these measures are taken after an initial reaction has been spotted. Dogs that react to vaccines are usually given an antihistamine 15-20 minutes prior to their set of vaccines to prevent the body from reacting. Owners are then advised to watch out for any signs of a reaction.
Sarcomas are not as preventable, mainly due to their unknown mechanism; however, some steps can be taken to minimize the spread. Many vaccines are now given in a specific site, such as a limb, with the rabies vaccine usually given in the right hind thigh. This is beneficial for tracking what vaccines cause sarcomas as well as for their removal. A leg with a sarcoma can be amputated to prevent the spread of cancer if a sarcoma appears.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Vaccine Reaction or Sarcoma in My Dog?
Minor vaccine reactions can be given an over-the-counter antihistamine to help stop swelling. Your veterinarian can provide the dosage appropriate for your dog’s size. Major reactions should be brought into a veterinary clinic or emergency clinic for care immediately to prevent or stop any life-threatening reactions. Most vets will administer an injectable antihistamine that works more quickly than oral medications and may provide any life-saving techniques, such as CPR, oxygen, or other medications, in the event of a severe reaction.
If a growth appears in the location where your dog has been vaccinated, it is best to bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. Your vet will most likely perform some tests, such as a skin scraping (to check for bacterial causes), or may aspirate or send the lump for biopsy if a tumor is suspected. These tissues are then sent to a lab for analysis. If the tissue is found to be a sarcoma, your vet can suggest several options including removal of the sarcoma itself, or possible amputation if the tumor is spreading. Your vet will also examine the rest of the body to make sure the tumor has not already spread. If the tumor has spread, more aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy, may be recommended.
Natural Remedies for Treating Vaccine Reactions
Sweet Violet and Red Clover can be used as herbal remedies for minor vaccine reactions in pets. The two herbs help to detoxify the body and clear it of histamines that cause the reaction. German Chamomile can also be used to soothe the body and heal any skin irritation from vaccines. Natural antihistamine remedies may also be useful if given prior to a vaccine; however, your veterinarian should be alerted if they have been given prior to any vaccines. Many naturalists also recommend the use of a killed-virus vaccine rather than a modified-life to reduce the chances of a reaction.