What Can I Give My Dog For Pain After Shots?

Dogs are a beloved member of the family and you can’t watch them in pain. Most vaccines for dogs are extremely effective but many dogs experience mild pain after shots. The injection site is usually painful for up to 24 hours after shots. 

dog in pain after shots
What Can You Give To Your Dog In Pain After Shots?

Vaccines usually contain a slight portion of either a weakened or dead virus. This activates the dog’s immune system to start producing antibodies for that virus. If your dog contracts the virus, its immune system will immediately recognize it and release antibodies to fight it.

Pain after shot usually stems from three main reasons: 

  • Actual physical trauma caused at the injection site
  • Vaccine side effects
  • Allergic reactions

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Related Reading: Dog in Pain Going Up Stairs & How to Help

How can I comfort my dog after shots?

Pain and vaccine reactions can occur within minutes or hours after vaccination. In the first few hours after getting their shot, dogs are particularly sensitive to the pain around the injection site. It’s especially evident if the vet inserted the needle into the muscle

There are a few different things that you can do to help your furry companion feel more comfortable. 

  • Provide your dog with a warm and cozy place to relax and rest. However, don’t force them if they wish to rest somewhere else.
  • Make sure that your dog has access to water and its favorite food. Don’t be alarmed if your fur buddy is not very hungry.
  • Avoid patting or playing with your dog as it may wish to be left alone. Your dog will come to you for attention when it feels like it.
  • Check on your dog every so often, just to make sure it’s comfortable. Try to disturb or bother them as little as possible.

Persistent pain at the injection site can be managed with common pain medication.

There are several over-the-counter medications that a vet may recommend in small doses. Generally, the best options are those specially formulated for dogs. They can undoubtedly be useful in relieving pain. 

Human over-the-counter painkiller medications, such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Aleve, are toxic to dogs even in small amounts. These painkillers might develop blood clotting issues, stomach ulcers, or kidney damage in dogs. 

Some people give their four-legged members baby aspirin. This is also not recommended as aspirin can cause kidney and liver disease and stomach ulcers in dogs.

dog laying down eyes closed with ready syringe held in foreground

Why is my dog in so much pain after shots?

It is normal for dogs to experience mild side effects after shots. These after-effects include:

  • Temporary soreness at the injection site
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

These symptoms generally pass within 24-48 hours after shots. Pain from an injection usually passes after a few hours. If soreness persists for longer, you should speak to your vet to discuss pain relief options.

Some dogs might experience skin irritation or swelling at the site of injection. This should pass within 2 days. If you notice the swelling is not reducing or is getting worse, you should talk to the vet. Swelling and skin irritation are indicators of infection and your dog may need antibiotics.

How to tell if my dog is in pain after shots

Dogs are great at hiding pain until the problem is serious. This is an instinct passed down from their wild ancestors as a way of avoiding predators.

There are a few tell-tale signs that your dog may be in pain:

  • Avoid touch, particularly around the injection site
  • Whimpering or whining
  • Tail tucked between the legs

It is normal for your dog to exhibit these behaviors for a few days after getting its shot. If these symptoms persist after one week, you should contact your vet.

Is there anything safe to give my dog for pain?

Persistent pain at the site of injection can be treated with common pain medication for dogs. 

Diphenhydramine or Benadryl is an antihistamine used to relieve the symptoms of allergies. They work by reducing swelling and soreness. A dose of 1mg per pound of body weight is safe for dogs.

Pet drug companies have worked hard to produce medications that block pain and inflammation while having no impact on other important prostaglandin functions.

The painkillers for dogs have been formulated to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever in dogs, without blocking COX-1 prostaglandins. With these painkillers, your dog is not at risk of developing blood clotting issues, stomach ulcers, kidney damage, or liver damage.

Pet parent tip: Before vaccination, tell your vet if your pet has had any previous vaccine reactions.

How long are dogs sore after vaccines?

Dogs may show a mild response and look off-color for a day or two. This is considered quite normal. You may notice that they resist being handled, have a lack of appetite, and just want to lie around and rest. This is because they are sore or tender at the injection site. 

Pet parent tip: If you suspect your dog is experiencing any ill side effects from its vaccine, talk to your vet immediately. He will determine whether any special care is needed.

dog in pain after shots
Dog in pain after shots

Final thoughts

Vaccines save countless lives and prevent devastating infectious diseases from threatening your beloved dogs.

Keep in mind that pain after vaccination is nothing to be alarmed about. If the response to the vaccination appears more serious or your dog has not recovered within 48 hours, please do not hesitate to talk to your veterinarian for advice.

Always consult your vet before giving your dog any human pain relief medication. Counting on word of mouth from other dog owners is dangerous. Every dog is different and your dog may not be able to tolerate the ingredients in human pain relief medication

If you have any comments, please do let us know. We would be happy to hear from you.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.