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Lyme Vaccine For Dogs Side Effects

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Everything You Must Know About Vaccinating Your Dog

Dog dies just minutes after receiving vaccination for lyme disease

Dog vaccinations play a critical role in protecting your dog from many dangerous and even fatal diseases. While state law requires all dogs are vaccinated for rabies, there are a number of other vaccinations that can protect your dog from serious diseases that are easily preventable.

At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic we have spent decades educating people about the benefits of dog vaccinations. This includes what vaccines are necessary and how they should be scheduled. Over the years we have been asked every question possible about dog vaccinations and we have compiled some of the most frequently asked ones for you here. This is only meant to be a general introduction dog vaccinations. At your dog’s next veterinary appointment, we will be happy to help you understand the vaccination recommendations for your dog.

What Are The Core Dog Vaccinations

Core puppy vaccinations and dog vaccinations are considered vital to all canines based on a universal risk of exposure, the severity of disease, and the risk of transmission to other dogs, as well as other animal species including human beings.

The American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force considers the following dog vaccinations to be core:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme vaccine

Although these vaccines are not considered Core, they are very important for most dogs who may be exposed to these infectious diseases. At your dog’s next appointment, we will be happy to review which of the above make the most sense for your dog and make the appropriate recommendations.

Rabies vaccinations are required by law in most states, including NJ. Owners must periodically have their dogs and puppies vaccinated against rabies, but the specific time frames for puppy vaccinations and dog vaccinations vary by state. In NJ, puppy rabies vaccine is generally given at 12 weeks and the rabies vaccination is good for one year. For adult dogs, the rabies vaccination is good for three years and should be addressed at the time of the first visit for new patients. For example, a puppy would receive the rabies vaccine at 12 weeks, 1 year and then again at age 4.

Vaccine Typeswhat Vaccines For Dogs Are Out There

In order to understand over-vaccination in dogs, you have to understand the different types of canine vaccines available. In addition to the biggest contenders I’ve already mentioned above, there are plenty of lesser-known puppy vaccines that your vet may suggest on your next visit.

Some of the better known, well-researched canine vaccinations may include vaccines for:

  • Bordetella

Your vet may offer a single vaccine that includes all of these in one shot, but your dog may not need them! Some diseases are rarer then others, and some will only be prevalent in certain areas. For example, Lyme disease is a disease spread only by ticks.

As the linked evidence-based article on NextGen Dog explains, Lyme disease is only prevalent in certain areas of the country, including lower New England and parts of Wisconsin.

In most other states, the chances of getting this disease are very low. It’s even lower if your dog spends most of his time indoors or walking on clear trails. In these cases, you dog doesn’t need a vaccine!

Another example is the bordetella vaccine. Bordetella, or kennel cough in dogs, is a disease often transmitted in low quality doggy day cares, dog groomers, dog kennels and other similar public places. Generally, bordetella disease is not something your dog is likely to catch at home, or even when chilling at the dog park.

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Lyme Vaccine For Dogs: Side Effects

Vaccinations trigger a response from the immune system. Therefore, mild side effects are normal and expected. Expected effects may include a mild fever, lethargy, soreness at the site of the vaccine, and decreased appetite. Just like when you get a flu shot, your dogs response to a vaccine may result in mild, short-lived signs of illness.

Occasionally, more serious reactions occur. Although severe vaccine reactions are rare, they require quick action. These reactions indicate an allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine.

Signs of an allergic reaction to Lyme vaccination include:

  • Vomiting
Merial Animal Health Recombitek® Lyme

While there are slight differences in how these vaccines are produced and their mechanisms of action, all five are comparable in safety and efficacy.

The Rise And Fall Of Lymerix

A glorious debate about the new Lyme disease vaccine ...

Part of the industrys reluctance to develop a new vaccine dates back to the 1990s, when two pharmaceutical companies, SmithKline Beecham and Pasteur Mérieux Connaught , were going head-to-head developing Lyme disease vaccines. A few days before Christmas in 1998, LYMErix won the race and received FDA approval.

It would prove to be an inauspicious time to bring a new vaccine to the market.

Initially, the vaccine fared well, with 1.4 million doses distributed by July 2000. One early issue was that LYMErix required three shots over 12 months and it wasnt clear how long immunity would last. Another was that it wasnt approved for anyone under age 15. And some people felt that it should have been more effective, since it worked in just about 80% of those who got the vaccine.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

Dogs can display several forms of Lyme disease, but the most common symptoms are lameness, swollen lymph nodes, joint swelling, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In addition, serious kidney complications have been associated with Lyme disease in dogs.

Clinical signs of Lyme disease in horses include shifting-leg lameness, generalized stiffness, hypersensitivity to touch, weight loss, and poor performance. Sometimes, the bacteria can infect the central nervous system, leading to neurologic symptoms.

Cost Of The Lyme Disease Vaccine For Dogs

The Lyme vaccine typically costs $20-$40, depending on your location. Remember that your dog will need two vaccines the first year, then one vaccine yearly.

In order to administer the vaccine, your veterinarian will also likely need to perform a physical exam. Exam charges vary by geographic location, but typically range from $40-$80. In many cases, however, the Lyme vaccine is administered at a routine wellness visit, eliminating the need for a separate exam fee.

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What Is The Treatment

Antibiotics such as penicillin, ampicillin, and amoxicillin, are reasonably effective against the acute stages of leptospirosis if begun early. These antibiotics treat the early stages of infection, making the dog feel better, although most affected dogs require intensive care in the veterinary hospital.

An extended course of antibiotics, typically doxycycline, is then prescribed in the recovery period to ensure that all the Leptospira bacteria are cleared and the dog does not become a chronic carrier.

Is It A Good Idea For Dogs To Get The Canine Lyme Vaccine Even If They Already Had Lyme Disease

Dogs can get a Lyme disease vaccine. Why cant humans?

You ask about the benefits of the canine vaccine against Lyme disease. That is a great question. Unfortunately, veterinarians do not have a complete answer when it comes to the vaccines effectiveness. Some research suggests that vaccination appears to be fairly good in preventing infection in dogs not previously exposed to the Lyme organism. I word this carefully, though, because your dog already has been exposed, and theres no known benefit of vaccination after an initial exposure to the Lyme-causing bacteria.

You also ask about the risks of the vaccine. We have a bit more information about that, because veterinarians have been using it for several years. There is a very low incidence of side effects, less than 2 percent. As with most vaccines, reactions might include facial swelling, hives, itchiness, swelling at the vaccination site and, less commonly, collapse.

So what is my best advice? I do not routinely encourage vaccination against Lyme, even though I practice in a region where the disease is endemic. That said, I do not hesitate to administer the vaccine when a pet owner requests it, because I believe it is safe.

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When To Start Puppy Vaccinations

In general, a puppy should start vaccines as soon as you get the puppy and then every three weeks until approximately four months of age when it will receive the final round. Generally, if the puppy’s mother has a healthy immune system, it will most likely receive antibodies in the mother’s milk while nursing. After a puppy has been weaned off of the mother’s milk, vaccinations should begin.

Rabies Vaccine For Dogs

The rabies vaccine is the only dog vaccination thats required by law in the United States. Part of the reason its so important is that dogs with rabies are the main causes of spreading the deadly disease in humans, especially children, in areas where the rabies vaccine isnt given.

rabies, theres a real zoonotic concern because people can get rabies, Dr. Lyon explained.

The rules regarding rabies vaccines for dogs vary from state to state, so make sure you check what regulations are like where you live.

You cant test somebody for rabies before they die, Dr. Lyon said. So we dont mess around with rabies.

Since theres no way to test someone for rabies while theyre alive, if your dog bites someone and he hasnt been vaccinated, he may need to be put down so he can be tested to confirm he hasnt spread rabies to the person he bit.

Rabies also has the highest death rate of any disease in both people and animals 99.9 percent which is why this shot is so important!

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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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Vaccinating All Dogs Yay Or Nay

Lyme Disease Vaccine Side Effects in Dogs

First of all, it must be noted that not all vaccines should be avoided.

The big three most popular vaccines for dogs parvovirus, canine distemper and rabies are extremely important and are proven to be safe. But what about all the other canine vaccines offered by our veterinarians all across the country without a second thought or consideration for side effects?

It turns out, not all vets are aware of the serious dangers vaccines can cause to dogs.

It’s not surprising to me how many pet owners are confused about vaccinating puppies and how to prevent over-vaccination in dogs it’s a complex issue with a lot of misinformation out there. And believe it or not, it can be very easy to over-vaccinate your puppy. This can lead to a variety of health problems, some severe or even fatal.

If you aren’t sure what’s right for your dog, do a little bit of research before you go see your veterinarian. Start by reading through this guide as well as the linked studies and other articles I’ve pointed out about vaccinating puppies. Be open with your vet about your concern of over-vaccination in dogs, and discuss the options with them.

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How Often Is Lyme Disease Vaccine Needed

Initially, the vaccine is given as a series of two boosters . Depending on the vaccineâs manufacturer, this series of vaccines can be started around eight to nine weeks of age.

Some veterinarians recommend boostering this series six months later, followed by another booster in six months, then once yearly after that. Other veterinarians recommend vaccinating yearly after the initial two booster series. When and how often to booster will likely be based on the concern for Lyme disease in your area and your petâs risk for tick bites.

Long Term Side Effects Of Lyme Vaccine In Dogs

The short term side effects of the Lyme vaccine are the same short term effects that are likely from any canine vaccination. There are currently no proven cases of long term illness as a direct result of the canine Lyme disease vaccination. Even so, there is still debate over whether or not the vaccine has more side effects. Indeed The New York Times went so far as to publish an article recommending cautious use of Lyme vaccines.

This warning was based on the work of Dr. Richard Jacobson from Cornell University in 1991. He was concerned that the vaccine may trigger production of certain antibodies that clog up the kidneys and cause renal failure.

However, to date, no firm data, evidence, or clinical trials have backed up this concern. Despite extensive clinical trials, no long term side effects have been proven either by manufacturers of Lyme vaccines or concerned parties. To illustrate the complexity of this subject, VetInfo writes about protecting dogs against Lyme disease and some of the unproven side effects of vaccination. Potential long term effects include the following.

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Can The Vaccine Cause Side

Modern vaccines are extremely effective and safe. Many pets experience mild side effects following vaccination, similar to those that humans experience. Other less common but more serious side effects can occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. Vaccine reactions can be controlled medically, so if you are concerned call your veterinarian immediately.

Vaccine reactions are more likely to occur if many different vaccinations are given at the same time. Vaccine recommendations should always be based on individual pet lifestyle, so speak to your veterinarian to determine whether this vaccine is recommended for your pet.

Reactions to the leptospirosis vaccine usually take the form of lethargy for a few days and possibly loss of appetite. In some dogs an anaphylactic shock-like reaction may occur shortly after vaccination. Miniature Dachshunds and West Highland White Terriers seem to have slightly increased risk for this type of reaction. Other dogs may develop a skin rash , apparent on hairless areas.

“Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people.”

NOTE: Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people, so owners of dogs that may have the disease should avoid contact between the owner’s bare skin and their dog’s urine, and wear rubber gloves when cleaning up any areas the dog may have soiled. Any areas where the dog has urinated should be disinfected. The organism is readily killed by household disinfectants or a dilute bleach solution.

Most Dogs Dont Get Lyme Disease Symptoms Even When They Have Lyme Disease

Scientists Work To Create A New Type Of Vaccine To Combat Lyme Disease | NBC Nightly News

In 2006, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania infected beagles with Lyme disease.

None of the adult dogs showed any signs of Lyme disease even though they had Lyme disease.

The only dogs in the group that showed any signs of Lyme disease were the puppies and after four days of on and off symptoms, every puppy showed no signs of Lyme disease.

This is likely because puppies have immature immune systems. So while Lyme is common, the disease isnt.

But what about dogs who already test positive for Lyme?

Meryl Littman was the lead researcher and explains 95% of exposed dogs dont get sick, but they become Lyme antibody-positive on tests, which may scare people into thinking they need to be treated.

In fact, 70% 90% of dogs in some areas of New England test positive for Lyme. About 40% of dogs in Pennsylvania test positive.

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To Vaccinate Or Not Vaccinate

When deciding on whether to get the vaccine or not, there are different perspectives to consider. While there are potential risks, these are quite rare.

If you live near a forest where ticks are prevalent, you may want to err on the side of caution and take your dog in to be vaccinated. When it comes to Lyme disease, or any other health condition for that matter, you want to protect your pup as well as possible so they dont contract any diseases that could have been prevented.

For further questions on whether you should vaccinate your dog, contact your trusted veterinarian for more guidance.


The Lyme Vaccine For Dogs: 3 Top Reasons To Avoid It. Dogs Naturally Magazine, 25 June 2018, Accessed 9 Dec 2018.

Dog Vaccinations. Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, 16 May 2017, Accessed 9 Dec 2018.

AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force. AAHA, Accessed 9 Dec 2018.

Elliott, Pippa. Canine Lyme Vaccine Side Effects. LoveToKnow, Accessed 9 Dec 2018.

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