Lyme Disease Vaccination for Dogs

Lyme disease: Is your dog at risk?
Lyme disease is contracted through the bite of an infected tick and affects humans and dogs alike during warm-weather months. If your dog has potentially been exposed to Lyme disease, there is a vaccine that can help prevent complications.
Caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted from one animal to another through the bite of deer ticks, Lyme disease is most prevalent in the northeastern, northern mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest, and northern coast of California regions of the United States. Deer ticks typically pick up the bacteria from infected wildlife, such as deer and rodents. The ticks that spread Lyme disease are tiny and can be difficult to detect among your pet’s fur.


Symptoms of Lyme disease
Many dogs who are exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria never develop symptoms of Lyme disease. However, when a dog displays symptoms of the disease, he or she can quickly become very sick. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include:

    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Fever
    • Painful joints and muscles
    • Lameness that can come and go and shift between legs
    • Kidney disease in chronic cases


Symptoms of Lyme Disease for Dogs

Complicating the decision of whether or not to vaccinate is the fact that many dogs who are exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria do not develop symptoms of Lyme disease. On the other hand, those that do can become very sick. Symptoms may include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Painful joints and muscles
  • Lameness that can wax and wane and shift between legs
  • Kidney disease in chronic cases

The red “bulls-eye” rash that is a common symptom of Lyme disease in humans is not seen frequently in dogs.

tick bite on dog - compressed

Lyme disease is a permanent condition once contracted, but a long course of antibiotics can make many dogs symptom-free. Some infected dogs do still have low-level infections, even with treatment, and are at risk for future kidney disease. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to Lyme disease, contact your veterinarian immediately and consider getting your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease.
Routine application of monthly tick defense products, such as gels or collars, is the first step in preventing Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. If you and your pet trek outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, comb and inspect your pet’s coat for ticks. Carefully remove any ticks you may find, or contact a professional for help.
Though it is not a guarantee that your pet will not contract Lyme, the Lyme vaccine is another option to consider if you live in a tick-prone area and plan to spend time outdoors in warm weather. Dogs 12 weeks or older should receive two vaccines between 2 and 4 weeks apart, and an annual booster after that.
If your dog develops any of the above symptoms, or you find a tick or bulls-eye mark on your pet’s skin, contact us at Falls Road Veterinary Hospital immediately. It is our goal to keep your pets safe, happy, and healthy so you can enjoy a long life together!

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