Original Question: We bought our puppy his first set of vaccines but noticed he had a bump on the back of his neck a week later so we contacted the person that sold us the puppy and he told us it was where he put the vaccine but we are wondering what to do? He said to put ice to reduce the swelling but we are scared! - Luis
A small amount of swelling after vaccination or any injection is completely normal and could last for a few days to a couple of weeks or so. After an injection in a dog, puppy, cat or kitten, you can absolutely put a cold compress on in it for the first couple of days as this will help to reduce any swelling however after about two or three days or so, the cold compress isn’t going to have any benefit. We want to switch to a warm compress because this will encourage blood flow to the area, which will help heal and get rid of the lump.
Now lumps are a side effect of vaccines but what you’re seeing might be the result of an abscess developing. This could be caused by a dirty needle that was used or poor technique. It could also be the result of a skin problem caused by an insect bite, allergy, wound or even cancer although in a young puppy that’s very, very unlikely.
This raises potential issues with non-vet giving vaccines. Some questions to consider would be, what’s their injection technique like? How was that vaccine stored? Are they using clean needles or are they just reusing them on multiple puppies? Do you actually have any proof that it’s even been done? I’m not suggesting that every puppy breeder is going to be dishonest like this but these are all questions to ask.
Now if you get the vaccines done by your vet it is going to be more reliable. There’s going to be more of a record of the supply chain for that vaccine. They’re going to be monitoring the fridge temperatures to make sure that the vaccines are actually still going to work. You’re going to get a fresh needle every time. You’re going to get someone who’s given countless injections every day. So we’re less likely to get things like abscesses and other problems there. As well as vaccination, your vet will also give a comprehensive health check on a puppy. That’s always a good idea before purchase because you’re going to want to know if there’s a heart murmur if there’s an umbilical hernia or any other problems that you might want to consider before getting a puppy that might change your mind about whether that puppy is right for you and your family.
Now with your puppy, if the lump is growing, if it’s irritating them or if it’s been present for more than a couple of weeks, then I recommend you see your vet and have them perform an aspiration biopsy or fine needle aspirate (FNA). You should have them check over this lump just to make sure that there’s nothing else going on, there are no antibiotics that are needed and no other treatment that they might consider.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc