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Adverse Events Diagnosed Within Three Days of Vaccine Administration in Dogs

George E. Moore, Lynn F. Guptill, Michael P. Ward, Nita W. Glickman, Karen K. Faunt, Hugh B. Lewis, Lawrence T. Glickman 2005

Key Points:

  • Study only includes acute, self-reported reactions, no long-term reactions (eg cancer at the injection site, seizures)
  • Study does not include dogs that died from anaphylactic shock
  • The rate of adverse reactions was ~38 in 10,000 dogs
  • Risk of adverse reaction increased:
    • with decreasing weight
    • for fixed vs intact dogs
    • for dogs between the ages of 1 and 3 years old
    • for multiple vaccines given at one visit


Objective—To determine incidence rates and potential risk factors for vaccine-associated adverse events (VAAEs) diagnosed within 3 days of administration in dogs. Design—Retrospective cohort study. Animals—1,226,159 dogs vaccinated at 360 veterinary hospitals. Procedure—Electronic records from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2003, were searched for possible VAAEs (nonspecific vaccine reaction, allergic reaction, urticaria, or anaphylaxis) diagnosed within 3 days of vaccine administration. Information included age, weight, sex, neuter status, and breed. Specific clinical signs and treatments were reviewed in a random sample of 400 affected dogs. The association between potential risk factors and a VAAE was estimated by use of multivariate logistic regression. Results—4,678 adverse events (38.2/10,000 dogs vaccinated) were associated with administration of 3,439,576 doses of vaccine to 1,226,159 dogs. The VAAE rate decreased significantly as body weight increased. Risk was 27% to 38% greater for neutered versus sexually intact dogs and 35% to 64% greater for dogs approximately 1 to 3 years old versus 2 to 9 months old. The risk of a VAAE significantly increased as the number of vaccine doses administered per office visit increased; each additional vaccine significantly increased risk of an adverse event by 27% in dogs ≤ 10 kg (22 lb) and 12% in dogs > 10 kg. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Young adult small-breed neutered dogs that received multiple vaccines per office visit were at greatest risk of a VAAE within 72 hours after vaccination. These factors should be considered in risk assessment and risk communication with clients regarding vaccination.

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