Lyme Vaccine for Dogs

Lyme disease is basically a bacterial infection caused by the Borreliaburgdorferi bacterium. The bite of infected ticks of the Ixodes species (deer ticks) spreads the disease and affects dogs, humans and other species as well. Lyme disease is more common in some specific areas of the United States, including the upper Midwest, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States. Deer ticks can attach to your dog's skin and feed, which will make them infected. Lyme vaccine for dogs is available today to help prevent this disease. Keep reading to learn more about this disease and its vaccine.

Lyme Disease in Dogs

As mentioned above, an infected tick can transmit Lyme disease to your dog through a bite. Many dogs have immune systems healthy enough to fight off the infection naturally. You won't notice any symptoms in this case. However, this may not be the case with every dog, especially if you have a relatively old dog. The disease can cause problems related to the kidneys, heart and joints. It may also cause some neurological disorders in dogs. If not treated in time, Lyme disease can have life-threatening consequences. The good thing is that you can help your dog recover with the help of proper medications.

The Possibility That a Dog Gets Lyme Disease

Not all infected dogs end up developing clinical disease; in fact, the proportion is quite low as compared to what it is for humans. Serological studies show that 75% of dogs in high-risk areas get exposed to infected ticks, but only 5% of them end up developing clinical signs. It is also worth mentioning that there is some breed, age and genetic differences in the susceptibility of dogs to this infection disease.

Lyme Vaccine for Dogs: Vaccination Protocols

The availability of Lyme vaccine has really helped dog owners ensure their dogs don't end up fighting with Lyme disease. It is important to have your dog vaccinated, especially if you're in an area where the exposure to Lyme disease is on the higher side. You should have your dog vaccinated annually to protect from Lyme disease. Vaccination is quite affordable, and is less expensive compared to the cost of Lyme disease treatment. Moreover, your dog may never be free of infection even after aggressive treatment, so it is better to opt for Lyme vaccine for dogs to protect your dog from this dangerous disease.

Your veterinarian will first check your dog's vaccination history and pay attention to risk factors before selecting a vaccination series. In some cases, your vet will give your dog an initial vaccination followed by a booster after a few weeks. It is a good idea to vaccinate your puppies for Lyme disease as part of their puppy shots. You should also vaccinate your dog if you're not completely aware of his vaccination and disease history.

If you have not already vaccinated your adult dog, your vet will first order a test to see if your dog has ever been exposed to Lyme disease. The test involves checking your dog for heartworms in the exam room. You usually get results in 10 minutes or so. The results will determine the treatment plan for your dog. For instance:

  • Your veterinarian will stick to a different treatment plan if the test comes out positive and your dog shows signs of Lyme disease, such as swelling or tenderness in legs, tiredness, and a fever.
  • Your veterinarian may select a specific Lyme vaccine for dogs whose test is positive but he doesn't show any signs of Lyme disease.

Lyme Vaccine for Dogs: Commonly Used Vaccinations

Once you have confirmed your dog has never been vaccinated before for Lyme disease, you should take him to the vet for vaccination. There are three basic types of Lyme vaccine for dogs. Here's a bit more about these types for your understanding.

1.  Fort Dodge's Vaccine

This is standard version of Lyme vaccine that contains a live, but killed version of bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The vet will vaccinate your dog to trigger the immune system response to help develop antibodies that fight off the infection. This particular form of vaccination has certain risks, and in some cases, it leads to an untreatable version of Lyme disease. It also has some other side effects and allergies as well.

2.  Merial's Vaccine

The vaccine provides your dog with antibodies that protect him against the surface proteins called OspA that a tick utilizes to attach itself to your dog's body.

3.  Intervet-Schering-Plough's Vaccine

It is the safest as well as the most effective choice. It provides protection against OspA and OspC, which are the proteins used during the transmission of Lyme disease.

Lyme Vaccine for Dog: Considerations

While Lyme vaccine for dogs will really help reduce the risk of developing the disease, there are certain considerations as well.

1.  Effectiveness

Some veterinarians don't recommend Lyme vaccine because they believe they are not effective against the infection. It is so because some vaccinated dogs still end up contracting the disease. But the studies show that vaccinated dogs are less likely to develop Lyme disease as compared to unvaccinated dogs.

2.  Possible Risks

Some veterinarians believe that the vaccines can cause some ricks, because these vaccines make use of powerful foreign proteins that trigger immune response in dogs. It sometimes aggravates the issue and causes symptoms similar to the disease itself.

3.  Tick Prevention

In addition to vaccination, it is a good idea to take other steps to prevent ticks, especially ifyou are in an area known for ticks and tick-borne illnesses. You may also avoid taking your dogs in areas during times when ticks are active. Make use of insecticides to keep your environment tick-free, and also make use of a good repellent such as Bio Spot on for dogs because it contains an ingredient (permethrin) that makes it more effective.

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