Can My Dog Get Vaccines While on Antibiotics?

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

Home » Blog » Can My Dog Get Vaccines While on Antibiotics?

One of the most common questions I get from pet owners is, ‘’Is it safe for my dog to receive vaccinations while on antibiotics?’’. After all, it is important to understand the role of antibiotics and vaccines so you can keep your pet healthy. 

Can My Dog Get Vaccines While on Antibiotics?

Yes, dogs on antibiotics can receive vaccines. However, since there are many risks, it is better to avoid doing it. For example, if the dog is getting antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, it is best to wait until the infection has resolved.

Volunteer wearing gloves while holding down a brown dog while a veterinarian is preparing a syringe

It is also important to take into account the type of vaccine being used. Some vaccines are live attenuated, which means they contain weakened versions of the virus or bacteria. If the dog’s immune system is weakened by antibiotics or other medications, these vaccines might not last long or may be less effective.

In these cases, it may be best to delay administering live vaccines until the dog has completed its dose of antibiotics. Therefore, if a dog is sick, it is usually best to delay vaccination until it has fully recovered. This is because the illness may weaken the dog’s immune system, making it less effective.

Why Do Dogs Need Antibiotics?

Dogs need antibiotics because they kill or slow down the growth of bacteria, which allows the dog’s immune system to fight infections. However, they do not affect viral infections, which cause many common illnesses such as kennel cough and canine influenza.

When I prescribe antibiotics, it is important to follow the instructions. Even if the dog looks completely healthy, antibiotics should not be stopped until the end of the treatment. If not, some bacteria can be left alive, which could lead to a relapse. Worse, the bacteria can develop antibiotic resistance

It is also important to note that antibiotics might cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions. If your dog shows any of these symptoms while on antibiotics, you should contact me right away.

How Do Vaccines Work on Dogs?

Vaccines are very important for dogs, just as they are for humans. A vaccinated dog will avoid many diseases that could put them in danger. They work by stimulating their immune system to start producing antibodies against certain diseases. For instance, the dog will have antibodies when they have parvovirus and rabies. 

Two volunteers holding a brown dog down in a table while they use a stethoscope during its examination

When it comes to the types of vaccines, there are two: inactivated vaccines and modified live vaccines. The first ones are made of the dead version of the bacteria, while the second ones are a much weaker version of it. Here you can see the difference between the two of them.

  • Inactive vaccines often require multiple doses to work
  • Modified live vaccines often require only one dose to work
  • Modified vaccines are more prone to cause side effects. Fever and lethargy are the most common ones
  • Inactive vaccines usually don’t cause any side effects
  • None of them are prone to causing permanent damage to your dog

What Happens If I Vaccine My Dog While It Is on Antibiotics?

Now that you’ve learned if your dog can get a vaccine shot while on antibiotics, you need to learn about the potential risks associated with this. If the dog is on antibiotics for a non-infectious condition such as allergies or inflammation, there are not many risks. Therefore, it is generally safe to give them a vaccine shot. 

Though, in these cases, it is important to monitor the dog for any adverse reactions. All dogs are different. Therefore, it is always best to consult me before vaccinating your pet. I will be able to check the dog’s health and make recommendations based on their situation.

On the other hand, if the dog is receiving long-term antibiotic therapy due to an infectious condition, there are higher risks. For instance, the vaccine might not be as effective as it should be, causing your dog to be unprotected. Also, the dog’s immune system might get overloaded, which can cause many problems.

How Can I Care For My Dog After Being Vaccinated?

One of the best cares you can give a dog who’s been recently vaccinated while on antibiotics is to do blood tests on them constantly. With this, you will ensure their immune system is working correctly. On top of that, you will know if their overall health is good and if there are no side effects.

Although these reactions are unusual, they do occur. For instance, your dog may experience an allergic reaction and an anaphylactic shock. This is why it is essential to monitor your dog closely after vaccination. As a result, if you notice symptoms such as difficulty breathing, diarrhea, or lethargy, reach out to me as quickly as possible.

Volunteer holding down a brown dog while a veterinarian is preparing to administer a syringe

Lastly, keep in mind that vaccines are not an alternative to good hygiene and care. A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and a balanced diet, is important for keeping your dog healthy. After all, if your dog is sedentary, it is more prone to getting diseases.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about vaccines and antibiotics

Do Antibiotics Affect Rabies Vaccine?

Yes, antibiotics can affect the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine, especially if the dog is currently sick. After all, this can overload its immune system, which could cause an ineffective reaction to the vaccine. Therefore, it is better to wait.

Will Antibiotics Prevent Infection in Dogs?

While antibiotics can help the dog’s body fight against infections like UTIs, they cannot prevent them. This is because not all infections are bacterial, some of them come from viruses. Since antibiotics only work on bacteria, they will not be able to prevent virus infection. 

How Long Does It Take for Antibiotics to Work on a Dog Infection?

The effects of antibiotics start to take effect after one or two hours of being applied. However, for the infection to be fully healed, it can usually take from two to three weeks of treatment. Though, this highly depends on how severe the infection is.


Although you can vaccinate your dog while they are on antibiotics, you should avoid doing it. In most cases, it is more beneficial to wait until the antibiotic treatment is done. After that, the dog is safe to be vaccinated.