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Revisiting Adverse Dog Vaccine Reaction Incidence Rates

Recently, we shared what (little) scientific research we could find about the incidence of severe neurological adverse vaccine reactions similar to Lilly’s. The short story is that is rare … really rare. At our appointment last Friday, I chatted with our veterinary neurologist about the data I found. He made a good point — the reporting of such issues isn’t mandated, so it often isn’t done.

In other words, there could be a whole slew of cases that never show up in the data or in public discourse.

Of sad / interesting note, we received a blog comment last week from a family whose dog got very sick, in the same way Lilly did, recently. Here is snippet of that story …

From Jen:

“On February 20, my chocolate lab went in for her one year appt. She received her bortatella, rabies, and distemper. The next day she started having massive seizure. Emergency Vet, Neurologist, MRI, Spinal tap, and three months later, we are still having issues with our sweet baby girl.”

Sound familiar?

So, there is at least one other case so far in 2012.

Though, it’s complicated, I’m sure by the fact that this 1-year-old Lab received 3 vaccines at the same time.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Pamela - July 8, 2012

My vet tells me these kinds of reactions are very rare. And yet, she spaces out Honey’s vaccinations so we’re not giving her a bunch of shots at once. And we talk about non-mandated shots before making a decision.

I’m so sorry you and Lilly are so long going through this. I hope you see some relief soon.

Do you think there’s any correlation between Lilly being so sensitive to stimuli and her reaction to this vaccine?
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    Roxanne Hawn - July 9, 2012

    I doubt it, Pamela. Some herding dogs have a gene that makes them more sensitive to certain meds. I talked to our neuro about testing Lilly for that gene last time we saw him, and he didn’t think it’d be worth it. That gene mostly affects heartworm med and some chemo meds.

melF - July 6, 2012

Sounds extremely familiar to me, only my dog was a Collie/Shep mix. This is exactly what happened to Indy. She still had seizures a year later. I am so sorry for that family. It’s one of the reasons I don’t allow the rabies vaccine to be given to ANY of my dogs along with any other shots. Period. The 3-shot thing is what eventually killed Indy.
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