Puppies yelp after vaccination because the site of the inoculation feels tender. A pup can also whine when they feel unwell due to their body’s immune response or as a result of a vaccine side effect.
You’re not alone if your puppy yelping after vaccination has caused you to panic. It’s hard to know if it’s a pup is in real pain, having an adverse reaction to the vaccine or if it’s normal puppy behavior.
When is a puppy crying after shots something to be concerned about?
In this article, we uncover what causes puppies to whine after vaccinations, what the common and rare side effects of vaccinations are, and when to be concerned about your recently vaccinated pup.
What Cause a Puppy to Cry After Shots?
Puppies cry after shots because of the pain at the time of inoculation, or because the injection still feels tender. Puppies also whine in response to the shock of the experience, their bodies’ immune response, or due to known mild and severe vaccine side effects.
Injections can hurt. What’s more, it’s a shock for a puppy. The initial shot is a puppy’s first experience of pain at the hands of mankind. Some yelping and whining can be expected.
Puppies can whine for some time after vaccination while processing the event. Some puppies get over it quickly, while others can whine a little every time they recall the event. This shouldn’t last long.
Vaccines prompt an immune response. Their goal is to make dogs immune to a certain disease. There is a possibility that your pup feels unwell after vaccination and whines in response.
Vaccines and medication come with the possibility of side effects. They range from mild illness and discomfort to severe and potentially fatal diseases.
Take your pup to the vet if it experiences side effects that last longer than 24 hours after immunization.
Vaccine Side Effects for Puppies
Common side effects of vaccinations in puppies include redness, tenderness, mild swelling at the injection site, fatigue, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, and, in some cases, sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge. Rarer side effects include anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, skin diseases, and swelling in the face area.
Common Canine Vaccine Side Effects
The most commonly noted canine vaccine side effects include:
- Redness, tenderness, and mild swelling at the injection site.
- Loss of appetite.
- Low-grade fever.
- Sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge after an intranasal vaccine.
Symptoms should clear up in 24 hours. Contact your vet if your dog is struggling with any of these vaccine side effects after 24 hours.
Severe Canine Vaccine Side Effects
Although rare, the following severe canine vaccine side effects have been recorded:
- Breathing difficulty.
- Persistent coughing.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
- Ischemic dermatopathy.
- Urticaria (hives).
- Swollen face (anaphylaxis).
Most of these side effects are self-explanatory, but here are three that are either overlooked or misunderstood:
Related: Dog Shaking After Vaccination
1. Ischemic Dermatopathy
This skin disease is a side effect of the rabies vaccine. It can cause permanent scarring. It is often misdiagnosed because the affected dogs do not seem ill immediately after vaccination. The symptoms can start occurring weeks after the vaccination.
The symptoms of Ischemic Dermatopathy include the following:
- Lesions and scabs.
- Darkening of the skin.
- Lumps at the vaccine site.
- Scarring with loss of hair.
Pups can also develop lesions on the ear flaps, face, elbows, and in the center of the footpads.
Treatment includes the combination of pentoxifylline (a drug used for small vessel vasculitis) and vitamin E.
Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. It is a rare vaccine side effect in dogs.
Symptoms include itching, hives, a swollen face, excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. The dog can have difficulty breathing and have a bluish tongue and gums.
Treatment can include antihistamines or corticosteroids in mild cases or intravenous fluids, placement of a breathing tube, and administration of emergency drugs.
Some dogs develop urticaria (hives) within minutes of receiving a vaccine. A vet can treat the reaction with antihistamines and corticosteroid drugs.
How to Handle Dogs Crying After Shots & Side Effects
If your dog is crying after a vaccination, treat it with tenderness, let it rest, and monitor the recovery process. Contact your vet if your dog is not recovering as expected or you have concerns about side effects.
Common vaccine side effects should disappear in a day or two. Contact the vet if your dog is slow to recover or showing signs of a side effect.
What a vet can do if a dog has a bad reaction to a vaccine:
- Prescribe medications, painkillers, or antihistamines to help a dog recover.
- Make a note of the reaction and vaccine manufacturer so a different product can be used in the future.
- Run a titer test to gauge the level of antibodies before a booster vaccination.
- Give your dog medication before a vaccine to reduce the chance of side effects.
Related: How to Get a Puppy to Stop Whining
What Vaccines Do Puppies Have To Get?
The rabies vaccine is the only vaccine legally mandated in many states and countries. The rest of the vaccines fall into two categories: core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines cover distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus-2, and parainfluenza virus. These vaccines are recommended while non-core vaccines are optional.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association not all dogs need every vaccine.
Core vaccines are recommended, but a vet should only recommend a non-core vaccine if your dog has a high risk of contracting the related disease.
The 5 Core Vaccines for Puppies
The five core vaccines immunize dogs against the following diseases and illnesses:
- Adenovirus-2 (Hepatitis)
- Parainfluenza Virus (Dog Flu)
This is a highly contagious disease that causes fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. This disease is commonly found in wildlife and can be fatal. It is not transmittable to humans.
This disease causes abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. It can damage the intestines and immune system and result in septic shock. It is highly contagious and often fatal. It is not transmittable to humans.
3. Adenovirus-2 (Hepatitis)
This disease cause inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include coughing, retching, coughing up white foam, eye inflammation, and a mild fever. Severe cases include diarrhea, vomiting, swelling of the head and neck, and jaundice. It is not transmittable to humans. .
4. Parainfluenza Virus (Dog Flu)
Most dogs recover from this illness. It is not transmittable to humans. Symptoms include a cough, nasal and eye discharge, sneezing, fever, and loss of appetite.
Leads to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal. This is a zoonotic virus that is transmittable to humans. Symptoms include fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis, and seizures. 
Yelping and whining after a vaccine is normal for puppies. This is due to the pain, shock, immune response, and side effects related to receiving the vaccine.
Most vets will tell you that the benefits of core canine vaccinations outweigh the risks. A puppy whining for a short time after a shot can be a small price to pay in the long run.
Regarding fatal and zoonotic diseases like rabies, vaccinating your dog could save your life and your dog.
All vaccines have potential side effects. You need to know the symptoms of these side effects and monitor your puppy for them after a shot. Prolonged yelping and whining after immunization can be a cry for help.
When in doubt, call the vet. Responding quickly to a potentially life-threatening side effect is critical. A vet can examine and treat a pup suffering from a severe reaction with emergency drugs and life-saving interventions.
In cases of mild reactions, a prescription of antihistamines or painkillers and a good night’s sleep could be all your pup needs to get its bounce back.
Is It Normal for a Puppy to Yelp After Shots
Yes, it is normal for a puppy to yelp after receiving its shots. The pain, shock of the experience, and feeling ill due to the immune response to the vaccine can all make a puppy prone to yelping after a shot.
Can You Protect a Puppy from Vaccine Side Effects?
There is no way to protect a puppy against vaccine side effects. The best you can do is go to a trusted vet, compare disease risks against potential vaccination side effects, decline non-core/non-essential vaccinations, and never vaccinate a puppy if it is unwell at the time.
What Are the Most Recommended Vaccinations for Dogs?
There are five core vaccines for dogs that vets recommend. They protect dogs against distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus-2 (Hepatitis), parainfluenza virus, and rabies.
Can I Give My Whining Puppy Painkillers After a Vaccination?
Yes, you can give painkillers to a puppy after vaccination, but only if prescribed by a vet for the puppy. Never give your puppy painkillers prescribed for another dog or humans. The incorrect dosage could harm or even kill a puppy.
Is a Puppy Crying All Night After Vaccinations Normal?
No, it is not normal for a puppy to cry all night after a vaccination. Contact an emergency vet for advice. Your puppy may be suffering from a vaccine side effect. A vet can prescribe treatment to help it recover.
Do I Legally Have to Vaccinate My Puppy?
Yes, some vaccinations are required by law. Ceratin dog vaccines are legally required in certain countries and states. The rabies vaccine is a legal requirement for dogs in most parts of the world. Talk to your vet if you would like to opt out of vaccines that are not required and the vet deems unnecessary for your pup.