Should I Vaccinate My Pet
Vaccinations are very important for both cats and dogs because it protects them from many common diseases that are both serious and highly contagious and can threaten your pet’s longterm health and wellbeing. In most situations, the benefits of getting your dog or cat vaccinated highly outweigh the risk of them developing any side effects. Although, occasionally some pets do experience side effects.
Six Strong Arguments Against The Lyme Vaccine For Dogs
In working to update this article about Lyme vaccine side effects in small dogs 2022, I again scanned veterinary journals and university research sites.
In my search for the latest research on the safety and effectiveness of the Lyme vaccine for dogs, I found a very strongly worded opinion piece from two respected researchers published in the August 2021 journal Frontiers In Veterinary Science. These researchers arguments have cemented my decision for this year: I will not give my small dogs the Lyme vaccine in 2022.
Nadine A. Vogt of the Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, and Christine Stevens, Department of Philosophy, Kings College London, present the many reasons Lyme vaccines are inadvisable. Ive summarized their reasons below:
1. Lyme is a disease of low clinical significance
In other words, most dogs do not exhibit symptoms and, according to Vogt and Stevens, the vast majority of dogs appear to exhibit a kind of natural immunity to Lyme borreliosis.
The small percentage of dogs who do suffer symptoms usually only face a type of Lyme arthritis, which eases after the first several days of antibiotic treatment. More serious complications involving the kidneys and heart have been reported, but they are rare. We recommend reading the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Small Animal Consensus Statement on Lyme Disease in Dogs for an in-depth understanding of Lyme disease in dogs.
It certainly did us.
I Was Poorly Prepared For Discussion About Lyme Disease
When it came time for Phoebe and Scouts annual check-ups last year, I suffered a fit of temporary stupidity. June was proving this would be a banner year for ticks, I hated to be giving the girls internal tick medicine, I always minimize chemicals around the house, and I knew wed be outside all the time this summer.
So, instead of doing the exhaustive refresher research Im known for , I spoke briefly with our long-time vet about going ahead with the Lyme vaccination. And so, both Phoebe and Scout received the two-shot series.
I should have reviewed the medical research again first, and then asked my vet specific questions about the pros and cons of Lyme vaccine for small dogs. Had I done so, I would never have agreed to the shots. But, I didnt do so. I blame my dangerous lapse in attention on other family health challenges and fourteen months of pandemic-brain.
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What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, primarily, and sometimes Borrelia mayonii. The Merck Veterinary Manual says that in the United States, these spiral-shaped bacteria are most often transmitted to dogs through the saliva of deer ticks , also called black-legged ticks, in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The western black-legged tick is the primary type of tick that transmits Lyme on the West Coast.
Merck explains that dogs infected with Lyme disease may not show any signs of illness but can experience symptoms like:
A veterinarian who knows your pet’s history and lifestyle is in the best position to advise you on whether or not your dog is a good candidate for the Lyme vaccine. “While it’s rarely a bad idea to get this vaccine if living in an area where the disease is prevalent,” Bailey explains, “dogs who have a history of vaccine reactions or autoimmune diseases who don’t live in a high-risk region of the U.S. may not need the shot.” However, the American Animal Hospital Association adds that the vaccine may be indicated in dogs traveling from low-risk to high-risk regions of the country.
What Is The Lyme Disease Vaccine
Although the syndrome now known as Lyme disease was first identified in human patients in 1975, Borrelia burgdorferi was not identified until 1981. The first canine Lyme vaccine was introduced in 1992 .
The Lyme vaccine for dogs is available at most veterinary clinics, especially in areas where Lyme disease poses a significant threat. Even in low-risk areas, many veterinarians carry this vaccine in order to protect dogs traveling to Lyme-endemic areas. If your veterinarian does not carry this vaccine, they may be able to obtain it for you or direct you to another clinic where you can receive it.
This vaccine does not require a specialist visit and can often be administered with your dogs other vaccinations at a routine wellness visit.
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Antimicrobial Therapy And Vaccination
7. Should an oral or intranasal vaccine containing Bordetella Bronchiseptica be administered to a dog that is concurrently receiving antibiotic therapy?
Doing so is not recommended. Because B. bronchiseptica vaccines administered onto a mucosal surface contain living bacteria, vaccination of a dog that is concurrently receiving antimicrobial therapy may culminate in the inactivation of the live bacteria. This could result in a reduced or no immune response to the vaccine.
Efficacy Of The Vaccine
These vaccines are extremely safe and, in conjunction with tick removal and control, prevent B burgdorferi infection and clinical Lyme disease, including Lyme nephritis.
The anecdotal evidence for this fact is overwhelming, but it has also been shown prospectively in multiple controlled studies in experimental infection and in the field. Following are just a few of many examples of such evidence in the field.
- Levy showed excellent field efficacy of canine Lyme disease vaccination in 2003.10
- In 2010, Hebert and Eschner proved the efficacy of the Lyme disease prevention protocol, including vaccination in a large Rhode Island practice.11
- In a population of guide dogs in New York, implementation of strict tick control and mandatory Lyme disease vaccination regimen reduced the number of Lyme nephritis cases from approximately 10/year to less than 1/year over 7 years.12
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Schedule More Vet Visits With Fewer Vaccines
Research has shown that the risk of mild vaccine reactions in dogs does increase when multiple vaccines are given at the same time, particularly in dogs that are young adults, small breeds, or neutered.
One study also found that these mild vaccine reactions are more common when the leptospirosis vaccine has been given. Note that severe, life-threatening vaccine reactions in dogs do not occur more commonly with multiple vaccines nor with the lepto vaccine.
More vet visits with fewer vaccines per visit may reduce the risk of the mild vaccine reactions. Only you can decide if the added cost, time, and stress of multiple vet visits is worth the reduction of risk.
The Gathering Storm: The Fda Meets
With lawsuits pending and questions from the public and the media, and facing an increasingly complex and explosive situation, the FDA reconvened its advisory panel on 31 January 2001 to discuss the future of the Lyme vaccine. The participants included the FDA scientific advisors, the LYMErix manufacturer, independent experts, practising physicians, the vaccine victims and their lawyers.
This panel, described by one participant as raucous and riotous , provided a forum for all of the stakeholders . In support of the vaccine, the FDA summarized the VAERS data and concluded that the evidence did not support a causative association. The vaccine manufacturer, now GlaxoSmithKline following a corporate merger, assured the assembled parties that the LYMErix vaccine did not cause harm to its recipients. They reviewed the status of their phase IV post-marketing surveillance. Practising physicians spoke of vaccine efficacy by describing the dramatic reduction in Lyme disease cases in their own practices.
Others raised concerns about the vaccine’s safety. Scientists argued a potential role for genetic susceptibility and OspA-related autoimmunity in vaccine complications. Poignant presentations by several vaccine victims described in detail their suffering. The prosecuting lawyers for the largest class action suit claimed that manufacturers suppressed reports of adverse events from the licensing trial and provided inadequate warnings to genetically susceptible individuals.
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What Does The Lyme Vaccine Do
I tell owners the Lyme vaccine is belt-plus-suspenders for dogs with heavy exposure to deer ticks. The belt is a spot-on product that kills deer ticks, and the Lyme vaccine is the suspenders, says Dr. Betsy Brevitz, DVM, a vet in Fanwood, New Jersey and author of The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook.
Vaccine Adverse Events More Likely In Small Dogs
- According to a 2005 study published in JAVMA, reactions within 72 hours of ANY vaccination are exponentially more likely in small breed dogs.
- Neutered dogs are 27% to 38% more likely to suffer reactions.
- And, adverse events are 37% to 64% more likely to occur in dogs ages 1 to 3 than in dogs 9 months or younger.
- That left our two-year old, ten pound, spayed Scout at vastly increased risk of an adverse reaction. And we had no idea.
I summarized these bullet points about small dog vaccine reaction data from Adverse Events Diagnosed Within Three Days of Vaccine Administration in Dogs published in JAVMA, Vol 227, No. 7, October 1, 2005.
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Why Should I Vaccinate My Dog
Its best to have your dog receive their necessary vaccinations on schedule, early in life, so they get off to a good start and have a chance at great long-term health.
Diseases, including parvovirus, rabies and hepatitis can quickly cause serious health issues, and even be fatal – especially in puppies.
Vaccines will help prevent your dog from developing these conditions in the first place, which we always prefer to treating them once your pup starts to exhibit symptoms – both because these diseases negatively impact your pets health and because treatment can be expensive.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Tick control and prevention methods significantly reduce the likelihood of infection. Maintaining antibodies against B. burgdorferi through vaccination can further protect your animal. Antibody amounts and duration of vaccine antibodies can vary in individuals. Verifying your animals antibody response to vaccination helps to assure durable protection.
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Lyme Vaccine For Small Dogs: What To Know Before The Appointment
Fifteen Minute Read
We get it. Everyones pretty tired of talking about vaccines, at least when it comes to COVID. But bear with us, because this discussion is important too. Its the story of our small dog Scout and the extreme pain and temporary lameness she suffered after her Lyme vaccination for dogs.
And were not alone in nursing our Havanese through an adverse vaccine reaction. So many other small dogs have suffered similar reactions from the Lyme vaccine. And last year, we learned, too late, that small dogs are more likely to have adverse vaccine reactions. Were pretty upset with ourselves for having gone ahead with Lyme vaccinations, when for years we resisted doing so even though we live in an area where disease-carrying ticks are common.
The Lyme vaccine for dogs is actually pretty controversial, with few veterinarians recommending it wholeheartedly.
Dont make the mistake we did. We assumed this long-time vaccine was now widely accepted and that giving it was the right thing to do.
Were not saying dont vaccinate for Lyme. We are saying know the many downsides, give the vaccine only if you absolutely must, and be prepared to support your dog if she experiences an adverse reaction.
Before we delve into the side effects of Lyme vaccine for small dogs, lets talk briefly about the disease itself.
Can An Animal Get Infected Despite Being Vaccinated
Yes. This has been observed that some animals can still get infected after Lyme vaccination. This can be due to a low immune response of the respective animal and/or a very high exposure rate or Lyme prevalence in the area where the animal lives. A yearly check of the OspA titer is recommended for a vaccinated animal to ensure that the animal responded with high OspA antibodies to vaccination. Please indicate the name of the vaccine and when it has been last applied on the accession form.
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Lyme Disease Vaccine Side Effects
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 30, 2022.
Applies to lyme disease vaccine: intramuscular suspension
Along with its needed effects, lyme disease vaccine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking lyme disease vaccine:
- skin rash, itching, redness, swelling, or other sign of irritation not present before vaccination
- puffiness or swelling around eyelids
- shortness of breath
Some side effects of lyme disease vaccine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- pain in joints and/or muscles
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease Or Other Tick
Recommendations on preventing ticks include these from AKCs Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein:
- Inspect your dogs and yourself daily for ticks after walks through the woods or grassy settings. On dogs, look especially on the feet , on lips, around eyes, ears , near the anus, and under the tail.
- Remove ticks stat. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. Learn the proper method of tick removal. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers used for this purpose. If you are unable to do so, consult with a veterinarian.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam. Theyll be able to find any you may have missed.
- Prevent ticks from jumping on your dog with one of the many veterinary-approved flea and tick preparations available on the market. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best and most appropriate product for your dog.
- Keep grass mowed as short as possible. Refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas if you can.
- Get your dog vaccinated. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. They may not be appropriate for some dogs, so discuss with your vet.
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Should You Get The Lyme Vaccine For Your Dog
I cant tell you what to do although there are a lot of folks who try to
If you visit the Pets & Parasites website, youll see some pretty scary things like this
The folks at Pets & Parasites arent the most creative bunch, because here was their 2017 forecast
And their 2016 forecast
Pets & Parasites deliver the same message every year and just change the date. How can Lyme disease be that scary when most dogs will never get sick? Even when they test positive for Lyme.
Why all the fuss about Lyme if it doesnt really affect dogs? Companion Animal Parasite Council publishes The Pets & Parasites website. And this council is sponsored by companies who make tick products they want you to buy.
You might think Im biased when it comes to vaccines and that would be true but Im nowhere near as biased as the huge corporations that make billions of dollars off dogs and cats each year! And dont think theyll share my little secret that 95% of dogs with Lyme disease will NEVER develop any symptoms theres no money in that message.
But they will try to scare you and your vet every year, so youll run out and get their spot ons and vaccines.
But now I hope you know better than to get caught up in the propaganda.
So, will you vaccinate your dog for Lyme this year?
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Risks Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria most commonly passed from ticks to their hosts. The disease causes sudden onset arthritis, painfully swelling of the dog’s joints and can cause lameness around two to five months after exposure to the tick. In rare cares, Lyme disease may cause heart block, kidney failure, neurological changes, seizures and aggression. While the symptoms are serious, only about 5 percent of dogs exposed to the disease will catch it. Removing the tick within 12 hours of it latching on reduces the risk to almost zero. In addition, most dogs respond very well to antibiotic treatment, although some may have a recurrence of symptoms after recovering.
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How Is Leptospirosis Diagnosed
Because the clinical signs are variable and easily confused with other diseases, definitive diagnosis can be difficult. There are two tests that can be used for the diagnosis of leptospirosis.
The DNA-PCR test looks for the presence of genetic material from the Leptospira bacteria in the blood or urine. The MAT looks for the presence of antibodies that are formed against leptospirosis. Each of these tests has its own unique benefits and disadvantages.
“Single test finding of Leptospira antibody may not mean that the dog has leptospirosis…”
A single test finding of Leptospira antibody, even if the blood level is high, may not mean that the dog has leptospirosis because infection with less harmful serovars can still result in high antibody .