How Effective Is Lyme Disease Dog Vaccine?

Lyme disease dog vaccines are a basis for controversy in the veterinary world. When seeking means of prevention against tick bites and Lyme disease, a vaccination may seem like a viable option. Before making the decision to vaccinate your dog against this potentially deadly disease, there are a few points you should keep in mind.

Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is transmitted when an infected tick bites a dog and transfers the virus into the dog's bloodstream. Many dogs with healthy immune systems can fight off the virus naturally and never experience symptoms. If the virus does manifest into symptoms, dogs may experience problems with the heart, kidneys and joints, as well as some neurological disorders. Lyme disease can even be fatal, if left untreated. Treatment options and results vary, but commonly Lyme disease is successfully treated with the proper medication or alternative remedies, and the dog's health can be fully restored.

Lyme Disease Dog Vaccinations

There are 3 types of Lyme disease dog vaccinations available today. There are significant differences among them, and a brief explanation of each may help you to make a more informed decision:

  • Fort Dodge's vaccine - This vaccine is a typical version that contains a live, but killed version of Lyme disease. This version of the virus is injected into the dog, encouraging the immune system to create antibodies against it. This particular form is considered to be the most risky, as it can lead to an untreatable version of Lyme disease or cause significant side effects, vaccine reactions or allergies.
  • Merial's vaccine - This vaccine contains the actual antibodies that protect against one of the surface proteins a tick uses to attach itself to the body of a dog. This protein, called OspA, is potentially blocked from transmission, once the tick ingests the antibody contained within the dog's blood.
  • Intervet-Schering-Plough's vaccine - This is considered the safest and most effective of the available vaccines, as it protects against OspA and OspC, another protein involved in the process of Lyme disease transmission.


When considering whether or not to vaccinate against Lyme disease in dogs, it's also important to note that there are no available vaccinations for other deadly tick-borne illnesses. While you may successfully protect against some forms of Lyme disease, this does not prevent a tick from biting the dog and potentially transmitting viruses such as ehrlichia, Rocky Mountains Spotted Fever or babesiosis.

If you live in an area that is high-risk for ticks and tick-borne illnesses, a vaccination against Lyme disease may prove beneficial, however tick prevention by other means should also be high on the list of priorities. Carefully research the potential side effects of the vaccination you are considering and weigh these factors with the potential risk of your dog contracting Lyme disease. It's also important to consider the overall health of your dog and the potential for a healthy immune system to naturally fight off the disease.