- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Deadly reaction to Rabies Vaccine

October 18th, 2005, 06:50 PM

I just wanted to share my story with you all. On Saturday, I took my 5 lb. Chihuahua for his annual vaccines. He had a bad reaction to his vaccines last year, so this year the vet decided to split them and give him a shot of Benadryl in advance to prevent any reaction. So we went for the first set, and everything went well - no reaction of any kind. The vet had suspected that it may have been the Leptospirosis that he had a reaction to, so that one was eliminated this year. So when we went in for his last shot on Saturday, all he was to get was the injection for Rabies. The vet NEVER suspected the Rabies vaccine. Apparently, the most common vaccine to cause a reaction on small dogs was the Leptospirosis.

Well he was given the Rabies vaccine without the Benadryl, and within about 15 minutes the injection site started to show signs of swelling. I pointed it out to the nurses and they brought him back in for the vet to give him the Benadryl injection. Within minutes after that, the swelling went down but he started getting very agitated. I brought it to the vet's attention and he said it was probably because he was nervous about his environment and that he should settle down once I got him home. In my gut, that didn't sound right, but I don't have a medical background so I went with what I was told. I took my dog in my arms and brought him to the car, where as soon as I put him down, he went into massive seizures. I ran with him back into the vet's office screaming "HELP ME, SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!".

It took 2 vets and 3 nurses to hold him down and administer life saving treatment. He almost didn't make it. It took over 3 hours to get him stable enough to insert an I.V. but his tongue was still hanging out and his head still twitched. And then I had to transport him myself (in my hysterical condition) to the 24 hour emergency hospital for overnight observation. It was the longest drive of my life. For the transport, they had to close off the I.V. drip, and I quickly noticed during the drive, that he was deteriorating again without it, so I put my hazard lights on and drove like crazy to save his life. Luckily, the vet had called ahead and they were expecting me. They quickly took him from me and re-started the I.V. drip. I didn't get to see him after they took him from me. I had to go home without my little baby, and I didn't know if I would ever see him again or hold him. They didn't know IF he would survive, and if so, if there would be any permanent brain damage. He would never get another vaccine of any kind for the rest of his life if he did pull through - the vet promised me that.

There is (so far) a somewhat happier ending. I was able to take him home, his little body covered in bruises from how they had to handle him to save him, and he is getting stronger by the day. And there are no signs of any brain damage. They tell me I have to take him back in for bloodwork to check his kidney and liver functions, but I have to be honest - I'm afraid. I'm afraid of ever bringing him back there. It may sound silly, but I can't help it.

I didn't write this to discourage anyone from getting their pet vaccinated. I am a very responsible pet owner and would never dream of telling another pet owner that I know better than anyone else, but I guess I wanted to share this, in a way to warn anyone who's pet may have even a mild reaction that the next one could be deadly to your pet. Please share this story, and discuss it with your vet. Benadryl saved him once, but did nothing for him the second time around. To me, the risks no longer out-weigh the benefits for my little guy. And from now on, he will only be allowed out in my yard and will not be allowed around other dogs. That's no guarantee that he won't get any illness from other animals that have been in my yard, but that's a chance I'm going to have to take because for him (and I'm speaking only for HIM) he has a 100% chance of dying from a vaccine, and most likely a very minimal chance of dying from catching something from another animal.

That's my story. Please pray for my little baby.

October 18th, 2005, 06:59 PM
How awful to have to go through that with your puppy. I am glad that he is okay but am with you. No more vaccines. I wouldn't take a chance.

October 18th, 2005, 07:27 PM
I am so sorry to hear about your experience. And I your feeling is perfectly understandable. I am a doctor and I still worry when I take my kitties in for vaccinations - usually YY only gets a lump (which is very visable in her white fur) and is lethargic for a day. But I have heard so many horror stories.

(Having sad that, I must say all the stories about human vaccines are utter nonsense - some conspiracy theorist thing.)

I do agree it would be wise for you not to have your baby vaccinated. I hope your next vet visit is a good one!

doggy lover
October 18th, 2005, 07:33 PM
My moms dog had a reaction to the rabies vac. 2 years ago and now the vet just doesn't give it to her anymore. She didn't get as bad as your dog though, her vet said that the older a dog gets the more likely to have a reaction.

Lucky Rescue
October 18th, 2005, 08:11 PM
OH that's awful! I'm so sorry for both of you!:(

I don't believe in annual vaccinations, and the law only states that your dog must have rabies vaccs every 3 years.

October 18th, 2005, 08:22 PM
I get distemper every 2 years and rabies every three. You never know what could happen. For your doggy it was a vaccine that did it, but to another dog, it can be a bee sting. They are like kids, we have to be careful.

I'm so glad he survived. I hope he feels better soon. :fingerscr :grouphug:

October 18th, 2005, 09:27 PM
I've had a bad experience with vaccinations as well. It was actually due to over vaccinating and now my little boy has to be on pred to due it :sad:

October 18th, 2005, 09:41 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about what you had to go through. I'm keeping my :fingerscr that your little Chihuahua recovers 100%! Something very similar to that happened to my friend who has Italian greyhounds.... Scary stuff.

I don't believe in annual vaccinations either and I frankly think that there's a lot of harm done to our pets because of them. I would speak to a holistic vet and he/she may be able to provide you with some alternatives so that you'll feel safer venturing out of your yard with your pooch again.

October 18th, 2005, 10:06 PM
I'm very sorry to hear about your awful experience and hope that your puppy will recover without consequence.
I want to thank you for posting your story here, and appreciate that it may have been very hard to put it all in words.
I am going to re-think the blind faith I had in annual vaccines and pay closer attention to behavioral changes after vaccinations.

November 8th, 2005, 12:11 AM
I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. We had a similar thing happen with our chihuahua. Her face swelled after her first vaccination and we had to rush her to the e-vet. We experimented with the next round of vaccines by seperating them and giving her Benadryl. Still, her face swelled. We also had a 7 year old chihuahua at the time. Needless to say, we do not vaccinate our animals anymore. Our dogs are not regularly exposed to other dogs and if we ever get another dog, we will not vaccinate it either. Research is being done with cats and vaccination but I don't think any has been done with dogs. Our new vet has told us that the companies that make the vaccines have not researched how long the vaccine stys i nthe dogs system and therefore, it could stay for years and yet people are re-introducing the vaccines to their animals everyyear. I have also hear that auto-immune disorders are becoming more and more common due to vaccinations.

You are not a bad pet owner for feeling this way. You are, instead, better than most.

November 8th, 2005, 08:04 AM
It's nice to know that I am not alone in no anual vaccines. Harley will only be getting his rabies every 3 years. And Heartworm meds. I try everything naturally before I decide to give hime any drugs, unless he REALLY needs it.

November 8th, 2005, 08:09 AM
What a heartbreaking experience!! I hope your little Chi will be ok..
Thank you for writing about your experience.
For all the years I have had cats,they got all their shots every single year.
I believed a vet,who obviously should care about her patients,would not do anything not neccessary,but it was not before I joined,I found out different.
It was not until I questioned her that she suggested every 2 yrs for Rabies and now it's every 3 yrs.

November 8th, 2005, 10:22 AM
Oh what a scary story. How is your little Chi now?

I'd never really thought about not getting vaccinations before. Is this only for small dogs or do I have to worry about my 70lb baby too? I just got a call that her vaccines are due soon too.. So everyone here only gets rabies once every 3 years?

November 8th, 2005, 11:20 AM
I'd never really thought about not getting vaccinations before. Is this only for small dogs or do I have to worry about my 70lb baby too? I just got a call that her vaccines are due soon too.. So everyone here only gets rabies once every 3 years?
Here's some interesting info, Kayla:
Also, just try googling "dog vaccine dangers" and "jean dodds", you'll find lots of info.

November 8th, 2005, 12:17 PM
Kayla,you are not alone,I never questioned anything the vet said before either,but it's the same as with your own doctor,you question any procedure.
Vaccinations is a big moneymaker for the vets.Not that I begrudge them making money,but I also don't want my cats over-vaccinated.
My 3 earlier cats all got cancer,mind you they were 17,18 and 19 years old and one was diabetic,but they had their shots every year.

November 9th, 2005, 09:51 AM
I can't imagine what you've gone through. It makes me cry to think about it, and I hope things are going better for you now.
Just this morning my BF noticed a lump between Lulu's shoulders. She just had her twelve week shots last Tuesday. She's not sore, and there appears to be no heat coming from the area. At first I wasn't alarmed, but the more I think about it, the more nervous I get. I called my mom (who knows everything about dogs possible, and what she doesn't know she asks her boss, the president of a Yorkie rescue). My mom says as longs as she's not in any pain she's ok, to just massage the area a little. I trust my vet, they are one of the few in the area that don't push vaccines on their patients. But she is a little dog, a shih tzu/poodle mix, so I worry about her reactions to these drugs. Am I worrying for nothing? I am currently doing research on over-vaccination. My parents have a GSP that has seizures and they believe it is related to his heartworm meds. He's 49lbs, so their vet recommended the 50lb+ one. They are now connecting the dots with some research and making some changes. I haven't had a puppy in nine years. It's amazing how much things have change in the world of vet medicine. Pet owners are becoming more aware. I love it!

November 9th, 2005, 10:11 AM
My vet has started giving the shots in the back-leg the way it used to be done.She mentioned something about some animals having trouble with having it in the neck.

November 9th, 2005, 10:13 AM
Good to know. Now that you mention it, I remember that is where my lab used to get it done. Thank you!

November 9th, 2005, 01:40 PM
My vet only does leg vaccinations (or nose where called for) due to an abundance of animals (cats and dogs) having reactions at the neck sites, so perhaps that theory is catching on?

November 9th, 2005, 04:21 PM
My vet too does leg vaccines - and someone recently reminded me about how as humans we only get vaccines about any 7-10 yrs or so and that is prob fine for pets as well. I wish someone would clarify it all. Do a long term study - like the recent one done on children to quell those silly notions making the rounds about childhood vaccinations and autism (complete bunk!). I have no intention of doing annual vaccines for YY - maybe every 3 yrs. Not sure but not every yr, definitely!

November 9th, 2005, 04:59 PM
If anyone is interested in the possible dangers of vaccines, read this:

"Effects of Vaccination on the Endocrine and Immune Systems of Dogs, Phase II", Purdue University, November 1,1999, at

"The Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF) was formed in November 1996 in response to the increased incidence of soft tissue sarcomas occurring at vaccination sites." Their website is

November 9th, 2005, 05:04 PM
Such a sad and scary story.. I'm so sorry you and your dog had to go through this!!

And great thread guys - lots of interesting links.

November 9th, 2005, 05:11 PM
What about dogs that come in contact with all kinds of dogs on a regular basis? SHould they be done annually or not at all?


November 9th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Im so sorry about your dog, I hope hes okay now!

And Sarah Lynn- the answer is yes.
Your dog could get any number of illnesses from other dogs, including rabies and distemper.

Also I want to share something,
Last year we got a huge case of distemper with the cats(I work and volunteer at a local Humane Society). We had to start giving them all shots, rabies, distemper, and many more. 1 died from the rabies shot, 3 went into comas (mind you we had over 800 cats come in, in those 5 months), 6 had went into shock and more than ten had seizures. With the distemper, 2 had adverse reactions and had distemper symptoms (but did not have d/t.)
more than 3 of them died and over 9 of them went into coma's, none were reported to have seizures, though some had tremours.
The reason this happend was because they were allergic to something in the medicine. We didnt know how to test the animals, and still dont, so its very hard to tell. Out of those animals over %90 were under 3 months.

The same type of thing happend with our dogs, we got a case of something (cant remember what, it happend b4 I came there) and 22 died from shots.

November 9th, 2005, 05:48 PM
Very sad about all the kitties with distemper. I remeber hearing about them in the news.:sad:

August 14th, 2006, 12:13 PM

Hello Diana, sorry to hear about what happened to your Chihuahua. Yesterday, 8/13/06 I took my little 2 year old Chihuahua Pogi-chi to get his rabies and bordatella shots and he had a reaction. His face started to swell and then he threw up yellowish bile!!! I felt terrible and I rushed him back to the vet. He then gave him benedryl and some other shot (dex - something) . It was awful to see my little one throw up and swell.

When He woke up that morning, he was his usual happy self and then I took him in for his shots and he just became ill. If I knew he would have such an awful reaction I would have second thoughts in bringing him in. I was really
spurred into taking him in after reading about the 500,000 dogs :rip: killed in china due to a rabies outbreak on the Wall Street journal. Did anyone read that? I was so outraged by how they killed the animals instead of vaccinating the animals. :frustrated: that I thought I would take my dog in because he got a postcard saying it was time to take him in for his Rabies shot.
But to see my dog react to the vaccine was extremely heartbreaking, he is feeling better today and luckily I have my boyfriend at home watching him. :candle: I am not sure I will ever take him in to get vaccinations in the future. I mean to think about it, he is only a 4lb animal and the his body has to metabolize the these vaccines. He may have been given the dosage of a bigger dog, I just don't know. I try to trust my vet, but again I am now even more wary of the whole thing!!! Good luck with CHI!!!:pawprint:

August 14th, 2006, 01:16 PM
This is slightly :offtopic: so I'll apologize in advance.
There are some vaccines that need to be given by manufactures recommendations. There is a rabies vaccine that is licensed for every three years, there is a Distemper/Parvo/Adenovirus combo that is licensed for every 2 years (I think it's only in Europe though, but the company gives you a certificate incase any Health Canada situations arise).
You can always do titres to see if your animal is still protected as well. Health Canada recognizes titres as proven protection.
I worked for a homeopathic vet that used nosodes instead of vaccines. We did have a client that had titres done, they were low and the dog needed protection again. She did all the nosodes properly and at the right intervals, we did another titre at the appropriate time, and the titre hadn't gone up, I believe it actually dropped again. Nosodes haven't been proven to be effective (yet).
But I strongly recommend doing titres instead of vaccinating every year.
It's one of my biggest fears to have one of my animals die because of something that I could have protected them against easily (ie parvo or distemper).

I'm really sorry about what happened to your baby. Vaccine reactions are on the rise and yes, the lepto vaccine is usually the culprit. We have a couple dogs that have severe reactions that we keep them all day with an IV catheter in (they were puppies and had no immunity so we had to vaccinate them to protect them).

August 14th, 2006, 04:36 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your little dog. Make sure your vet keeps an eye on your little dog. Each reaction my dog had got worse. The first time, it was a little swelling on the nose. The second time, it was his whole head that got so swollen that his eyes were completely swollen shut (he looked like a Sharpei dog), and the third time nearly cost him his life because that time the Benadryl didn't work and he went into massive seizures. In no way am I suggesting you don't get your dog vaccinated - that is a decision you will have to make with your veteranarian. But if you feel uncomfortable in any way with his/her recommendation, you should consider getting a second opinion.
If your dog has already had a reaction, chances are pretty good that he will continue to have them - to what degree is the question.

I hope your little baby is ok now though - having gone through the same thing, I know how hard it is to see them suffering! Good luck to you both! :fingerscr