Combating Concerns About Vaccination
There are still some who believe that Lyme disease is not a disease worth vaccinating against or the vaccine causes more harm than good. This is despite the:
- Extremely large number of clinical Lyme disease cases and nonclinical Lyme infections seen in small animal practice in endemic areas in the U.S., including the often fatal syndrome of Lyme nephritis
- Millions of dogs that receive Lyme disease vaccines annually with no data to suggest any resulting harm from the vaccine.
What Are The Three Stages Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
While there is only one type of Lyme disease in dogs, the illness usually progresses through three stagesearly localized Lyme, early disseminated Lyme and late disseminated Lyme. Early localized Lyme is very difficult to detect in dogs, as it typically manifests as fatigue, fever and joint and muscle pain. An infected dog may not actively show any of those signs.
Similar symptoms characterize the next stage but on a more aggressive level. This stage is when your dog may start limping or losing their appetite. Late disseminated Lyme disease in dogs can affect the organs, brain and spinal cord.
Dog parents may also mistake other illnesses as Lyme disease. Tick-borne ailments with similar symptoms to Lyme include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis or anaplasmosis. All these illnesses can cause fever, loss of appetite and lethargy identical to Lyme disease.
What Causes Lyme Disease In Dogs
Dogs contract Lyme disease through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks contain the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a type of organism known as a spirochete.
There are at least four species of ticks in the world known to carry Lyme disease:
In the United States, the most common source of transmission is the Deer Tick or Black-Legged Tick, scientifically known as Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast and Ixodes scapularis on the East Coast. In Europe, the Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus ticks carry Lyme disease.
These ticks are tiny, which can make them hard to see or feel on your dog, and all stages of the tick can carry and spread the disease, although adult ticks tend to be the most infectious. It typically takes 24 to 48 hours after attaching to a host for the tick to spread the Lyme-causing bacteria, although transmission of disease can sometimes occur much more rapidly.
Certain areas are more prone to ticks than others. Wooded or grassy areas and areas with large tick populations pose the highest risk of infection. Ticks tend to be most active in the spring and fall when they are actively seeking hosts, which increases the risk of Lyme transmission. However, recent evidence indicates that ticks are also active in winter, as long as the temperature is above freezing.
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What Is Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease is also referred to as Lyme borreliosis, a bacterial illness that certain species of infected ticks can transmit to humans, dogs and other animals.
Since ticks dont fly or jump, they make contact with their host by lurking on the tips of long grass or bush, then quickly grabbing onto your dog when he walks by. He then crawls on to his body to look for a place to bite.
An infected tick carries the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, then bites a dog or person, transmitting the virus through the bloodstream.
Once its entered the bloodstream, the bacteria can reach different parts of the body and result in problems with specific areas or organs, including joints, as well as general illness. The disease can be transmitted after a tick has been attached to a dog for 24 to 48 hours.
Lyme Disease: Symptoms & Side Effects
Lyme disease is a tick-born illness with over 150 symptoms, usually involving multiple systems. There are three stages of Lyme disease: early localized, early disseminated, and late persistent. If left untreated, it may progress into long-term disabilities. However, it is important to note that Lyme disease can lie dormant in your body for a prolonged period of time, and will invade when your immune system is compromised.
- Irritable bladder
- Upset stomach
- Pain in eyes, or swelling around eyes
- Oversensitivity to light
- Buzzing in ears
- Pain in ears, oversensitivity to sound
- Ringing in one or both ears
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Unexplained fevers
- Continual infections
- Symptoms seem to change, come and go
- Pain migrates to different body parts
- Early on, experienced a flu-like illness, after which you have not since felt well
- Twitching of facial or other muscles
- Facial paralysis
- Tingling of nose, cheek, or face
- Stiff or painful neck, creaks and cracks
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Memory loss
- Confusion, difficulty in thinking
- Difficulty with concentration or reading
- Going to the wrong place
- Speech difficulty
- Stammering speech
- Any joint pain or swelling
- Stiffness of joints, back, neck
- Muscle pain or cramps
- Burning or stabbing sensations in the body
- Weakness or partial paralysis
- Numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
- Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
- Increased motion sickness
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Is There A Vaccine That Will Protect My Dog From Lyme Disease
A safe and generally effective vaccine is available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two- to four-week intervals.
“Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity.”
Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity. Vaccination against Lyme disease will be determined by your pet’s lifestyle and individual risk assessment. Be sure to discuss any questions you may have regarding the type and frequency of vaccination with your veterinarian.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease
The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees, especially cedar trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect an approaching animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.
“Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.”
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In Dogs Treatment Acts Fact
If you’ve ever known anyone who’s contracted Lyme disease, then you probably know that treatment can be a long and complicated process in humans. Thankfully, in dogs, it’s much simpler.
“Generally, and this is I think a big difference between dogs and people, within a couple of days of starting treatment with Doxycycline, they usually go into remission,” Bloom tells CBS News. “And pretty much by the second day of Doxycycline, they feel so much better. They act normally. They have no more fever. They start to eat again and they get better.”
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Show Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can appear anywhere from two to five months after being bitten by an infected tick. Their long incubation period contributes to the confusion that often surrounds diagnosis, as pet parents dont always recall when their dog may have been exposed to areas with ticks. This is another reason to consult your veterinarian as soon as you notice any symptoms.
Once they show symptoms, what happens to a dog with Lyme disease? And how does this disease progress? Left untreated, Lyme disease can be fatal. Advanced Lyme disease in dogs spreads throughout the body. Once it reaches the kidneys, your dog may experience vomiting, weight loss, lethargyand, frequently, death.
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The Decision On Whether To Vaccinate Dogs Against Lyme Disease Remains An Ongoing Debate Two Veterinarians Present Differing Viewpoints
Meryl P. Littman, VMD, Diplomate ACVIM, University of Pennsylvania, & Richard E. Goldstein, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM & ECVIM , The Animal Medical Center, New York City
Despite availability of a consensus statement and up-to-date canine vaccination guidelines , the decision whether or not to vaccinate dogs against Lyme disease remains an ongoing debate among many veterinary professionals.
Todays Veterinary Practice has gathered 3 experts to discuss this topicDr. Meryl Littman and Dr. Richard Goldstein evaluate the benefits and risks of vaccination, while Dr. Richard Ford outlines the current vaccination recommendations.
The Bottom Line On Lyme Vaccine
After slogging through some pretty dense veterinary sites and medical journals, our family has decided our pups will never again receive the Lyme vaccine. The vaccines controversial efficacy among experts, and our deeply negative experience with it, means too much pain and too little gain. We provide this information here so you can come prepared to talk with your vet. In addition, download The Checklists: Tick Prevention and Lyme Vaccine Precautions. These one-page reference sheets will help you avoid the ticks that spread Lyme. Theyll prepare you if you do decide to vaccinate your pup against the disease.
Interested in more health and safety-related information from us? Escape the summer heat and read Biggest Winter Hazards: Protect Your Pup or double-check your travel routine and scan Are You Using A Dangerous Car Harness For Your Pup?
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Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease symptoms in dogs may take 7 to 21 days or even longer to appear after infection from a tick bite.
Common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:
- Arthritis that may affect different joints on different days, possibly causing lameness
Left untreated, canine Lyme disease can damage the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.
Chronically infected dogs may develop a life-threatening form of kidney inflammation and dysfunction, called Lyme nephropathy or Lyme nephritis.
This condition is most likely caused by an abnormal immune response and may lead to kidney failure.
Warning Signs Of Untreated Lyme Disease In Dogs
Both humans and dogs are susceptible to a bacterial illness known as Lyme disease. The illness, which is transmitted by certain species of ticks, can create a number of health complications throughout the body, especially when left undiagnosed and untreated.
Identifying the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can be more complicated than with humans, though, due to the different ways the illness may affect your pets health and produce symptoms. But identifying Lyme disease is crucial to getting your dog effective treatment for this condition. Avoiding doing so may lead to rare but serious health complications that may affect your dogs quality of life or even put their life at risk. Take a few minutes to educate yourself on the common Lyme symptoms in dogs, and what you can do to treat and prevent this condition.
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Features Of Lyme Disease Vaccine For Dogs
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.
- Lyme vaccine designed to target the 2 key outer surface proteins involved in disease transmission for a full level of protection
- Proven to induce borreliacidal antibodies that bind to OspA and OspC, forming a complex that attacks the cell membrane and kills Borrelia burgdorferi
- Proven to help prevent clinical disease such as arthritis as well as at the subclinical level 5
- High level of protection: no serologic evidence of exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi following challenge with infectedI. scapularis ticks
Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Because Lyme disease may not cause any obvious clinical signs but can still be fatal, its important to test your dog every year for Lyme disease if you live in an endemic area, and 4-6 weeks after a known tick bite . Most testing is done based on clinical signs or history.
In the clinic, your vet will test for the presence of antibodies to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This is just a quick positive-or-negative snap test. If the result is positive, this means antibodies are present, and your vet may send a more specific test to the lab to determine the approximate number of antibodies. A high number indicates an active infection is likely, whereas a low number may indicate that your dog was previously exposed . Some dogs may retain antibodies to tick-borne bacteria for several years after being exposed.
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Lyme Disease Symptoms In Dogs
Veterinarians in the Northeast know Lyme disease well. Its symptoms are very noticeable in dogs, says Beverly Cappel, DVM, in Chestnut Ridge, NY. They look like theyre coming down with the flu. They ache everywhere, walk hunched over as though stepping on eggshells, limp, have no appetite, and move in slow motion.
Their necks are stiff, their heads ache, they dont want to look up at the light, and they squint.
Four Safe & Effective Vaccines
Compared to humans, dogs are lucky. There are currently 4 extremely safe, effective, and reliable vaccines7-9 on the market that have all been through the United States Drug Administration licensing requirements for safety, efficacy, purity, and potency.
All available canine Lyme disease vaccines produce borreliacidal antibodies in the dog in response to vaccinal outer surface protein A . These antibodies work in the ticks gut to bind the bacteria during the blood meal, sterilizing the gut of the tick and preventing transmission of bacteria into the dog.
OspC is the main immunogenic protein exhibited by Borrelia in the ticks salivary glands and in the dogs body during natural infection. Three of the current Lyme disease vaccines contain 2 strains of inactivated Borrelia isolates1 OspA producing strain and 1 unique OspC producing strain, which perhaps adds an additional layer of protection.
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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.
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.
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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. www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/lyme-vaccine-dogs/.
Dog Vaccinations. Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, 16 May 2017, Accessed 9 Dec 2018. www.harlingenveterinaryclinic.com/services/dogs/dog-vaccinations.
AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force. AAHA, Accessed 9 Dec 2018. www.aaha.org/guidelines/canine_vaccination_guidelines.aspx.
Elliott, Pippa. Canine Lyme Vaccine Side Effects. LoveToKnow, Accessed 9 Dec 2018. www.dogs.lovetoknow.com/dog-health/canine-lyme-vaccine-side-effects.
Where Is My Dog Likely To Encounter Ticks Carrying Lyme
Lyme disease in dogs has been diagnosed across all states, however, infection rates vary from one state to another. The highest numbers of Lyme disease in dogs are reported in the Upper Midwest, Pacific Coast and Northeast regions of the United States.
Dogs contract Lyme disease by being bitten by an infected tick. Ticks of all kinds, including those carrying Lyme are most often found in wooded and grassy areas including farm fields. Ticks don’t fly or jump. Instead, they find their prey by resting on the tips of grasses, shrubs, and leaves with their front legs outstretched waiting for direct contact with animals or people. As your dog brushes past, the tick simply grabs hold and latches on.
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Can Lyme Disease Be Transmitted From Pet To Pet
Lyme disease is seen in dogs, cats, and humans but thankfully, no, Lyme disease is not contagious, as it can only be transmitted via a tick bite. However, if one of your dogs or cats develops it, youll want to get all of your pets checked for the illness, as they may all be at risk of exposure to the ticks that infected your sick fur baby. You may even want to get yourself checked as well, as people are usually in the same places as their pets.