Canine Lyme Disease Vaccine Side Effects

Learn important information regarding the side effects of the canine Lyme disease vaccine. Lyme disease does not present itself in dogs the way it presents itself in humans. It's important to know how Lyme disease progresses before deciding if your pet needs the vaccine.

Understanding Canine Lyme Disease

Dogs contract canine Lyme disease from the bite of an infected deer tick. The disease became prevalent in the town of Lyme, Connecticut, in the 1980s and has spread to many areas since.

Not every bite leads to Lyme disease. The deer tick must remain attached for at least 48 hours. If you pull the tick off before the two days pass, Lyme disease will not be an issue.

While humans will show a round, red rash, dogs will not. Symptoms will not show up for weeks, even months. At this point, the dog might develop a fever, but the most common symptom is joint pain that is extremely similar to arthritis. Your vet will check your pet's blood for Lyme disease; if present antibiotics are the best course.

Vaccines are most effective in dogs traveling to the east coast where deer ticks are more common. Puppies as young as 12 weeks can receive Lyme disease vaccinations. Boosters are required every year. Some states don't have deer ticks, so the necessity of the vaccine is low unless you plan to travel to states where deer ticks reside.

Vaccine Information Benefits for Lyme Disease

There are a few canine Lyme disease vaccinations available:

  • Fort Dodge's Vaccine

  • Intervet-Schering-Plough's Vaccine

  • Merial's Vaccine

The three vaccines work differently. Fort Dodge introduces dead Lyme bacteria into the system in hopes of building up antibodies. Merial's vaccine creates antibodies that prevent the protein used by a tick to transfer Lyme disease bacteria into the host's blood stream. Intervet-Schering-Plough's vaccine is similar to the Merial's vaccine but goes step farther by killing off the bacteria at the same time.

All three vaccinations prove effective at preventing Lyme disease from a tick bite. Ticks can still bite, but the vaccinations do keep the bacteria from entering the dog's body.

Dangers of the Canine Lyme Disease Vaccination

When testing the vaccines, side effects are usually only monitored for couple of days before the vaccine is deemed safe for use. Cornell University found long-term side effects that paint a different picture of the safety of the canine Lyme disease vaccination.

In some cases, dogs develop Lyme disease anyway. It's believed that the antibodies in the vaccine can develop into Lyme disease. Research finds dogs develop all the symptoms of Lyme disease up to six weeks after receiving the shot. While tests for the Lyme disease bacteria show up as negative, there are many dogs developing all the symptoms. Left untreated more concerning issues develop.

A number of dogs develop rheumatoid arthritis months or years later. However, the development of acute kidney failure is more alarming. Remember that 90 percent of dogs never become sick and that pulling off ticks before 48 hours eliminates any risk. Many vets feel the benefit of the vaccination is often outweighed by the potential risks.