Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rabies Vaccine Reaction

We had a very scary time in December with Stella as she had a bad reaction to a vaccine. I have never been a big fan of vaccines and do only minimal puppy vaccines. BC is a low risk area for many diseases prevalent in other areas of the country. Unfortunately we frequently cross the border and proof of rabies vaccine is a requirement. I needed to give Stella a rabies vaccine as I was considering flying her with me to Clicker Expo in January.  That was her second and it has been over 1.5 years since her first and I had planned for this to be her last and would titre after that.   Guidelines have been very slow to catch up to the new data showing the long term effectiveness of vaccines without need for re-vaccinations.  Rabies shots will now get you a three year certificate but that is only after the initial first shot which is exempt for one year.  Actual studies show that immunity is usually good for a lifetime.

Stella had her shot at around 2pm and appeared fine.  I administered the recommended homeopathic remedy at that time to help support her system and all seemed fine.  That evening about 6pm I looked over at her and her nose was covered in massive hives.  I quickly stuffed some Benadryl in her and called my vet. We monitored her closely at home for any trouble breathing or other symptoms all evening and she got another dose of benadry around midnight.   The hives were very slow to settle down so I administered another homeopathic remedy that showed noticeable improvement.   I had her sleep in the bed with us to watch her and then she puked in the morning around 4 am, again at 5 am and a little bit after that.  I was finally able to get a Pepcid in her and that settled her tummy enough that she was okay for a while.  That afternoon I convinced her to eat a few mouthfuls of canned food and chicken broth so I could get another Benadryl in her.  Unfortunately she started vomiting again after that.  The timing leads me to think the upset stomach was more a reaction to the benadryl than the vaccine but was much worse as her body was stressed.

The upset stomach continued for the next few days.  I fastws her for almost a day initially but she continued to not be able to keep anything down.  That of course meant I couldn't give her anything to help settle her stomach as it didn't stay in there long enough to work.  I ended up returning to the vet where she was given an antacid injection and we all finally got a peaceful night of sleep.  The next day we slowly introduced broth and a spoon of food at a time and kept it very controlled over the next 4-5 days until we returned to a normal feeding schedule.  I continued to supplement her with some herbal remedies formulated to support vaccine reactions for the next month.  She had a bit of residual itchiness and irritated eyes but that settled after a few weeks.

Here are a few useful links for anyone researching this topic:
Dr Jean Dodds Vaccination Protocol
Dr Dodds - Clinical-approaches-managing-treating-adverse-vaccine
Dr Schultz - Rabies Vaccines
Dr. Dobias - rabies-vaccine-holistic-approach
Rabies Challenge Fund - Education

Stella will never have another vaccine as it is likely her next reaction would be much worse.  I will titre in three years when her certificate expires and hope the border agent of the day will accept that when crossing the border.

I am sooooooo grateful I listened to that little voice inside my head who told us to stay home that night instead of going out for dinner as planned.   Things were horrible but they could have been much worse if she had been alone. Through it all her wonderful personality shined. I had to go to the store to get some new benadryl (mine was outdated) and when I got home she greeted me at the door with a wiggling bum and a shoe even though her whole face and one eye was swollen. 

This is actually after the benadryl and is better than when it was at the worst

Normal face for comparison