Lyme Vaccine for Dogs

Lyme vaccine is an immunization that helps prevent Lyme disease from being passed to your dog. Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacterial strain called Borrelia burgdorferi that passes to your dog through the bite of certain types of ticks.

Lyme Vaccine

There are several Lyme vaccines on the market, the majority of which only adhere to the A variety of outer protein surfaces (OSP) in order to produce antibodies and kill the bacteria. A newer vaccine that adheres to both A and C varieties of OSP, produces the appropriate antibodies and allows the vaccine to kill the Borrelia at varying times during the infection process. The vaccine kills the spirochetes in the tick’s mid-gut, as they travel from the tick’s mid-gut to the salivary glands and as they enter the dog’s system, providing multiple opportunities for the bacteria to be killed.

Argument Against Lyme Vaccination

While it may seem that vaccination would be an ideal situation, many veterinarians argue against vaccinating for Lyme disease. Because the vaccine promotes activity in your dog’s immune system, it can cause adverse reactions to the shot. The vaccine can also prompt an incurable variety of Lyme Disease to develop. Compare these risks to the fact that Lyme disease can be effectively treated with an aggressive round of doxycycline. Treatment typically lasts a month or more, based upon the current health of the dog. While a dog can live with Lyme disease essentially symptom-free, it is still important to treat with doxycycline. As with most diseases, the earlier the disease is detected, the easier it will be to treat.

Testing for Lyme Disease

Your veterinarian can test for Lyme disease using the C6 SNAP test, a diagnostic tool that not only tests for the C6 antibodies to Lyme disease, but also tests for ehrlichia canis, another tick borne disease, and heartworm disease. Once the disease is confirmed, an appropriate schedule for doxycycline treatment can be established, not only treating the Lyme disease, but also treating other tick borne co-infections.

Tick Prevention

You can take a proactive approach to preventing ticks from biting and infecting your dog. The following methods can help keep your dog and his surroundings tick-free.

  • Use a method of flea and tick control for your dog. There are a variety of flea and tick products, both topical and internal, that can make your dog less attractive to ticks.
  • Keep your yard and trees trimmed so sunlight can reach the ground. Ticks like living in these areas because the long grass makes it easier to pass onto a host animal.
  • Treat your yard with a tick killing spray to get the tick population under control. Because ticks don’t crawl, this will keep the tick population down unless another animal brings it into the yard.

While Lyme disease can be passed to your dog, Lyme vaccine typically is not recommended unless you live in an area with a high tick population. Treatment for Lyme disease is easy and relatively inexpensive, compared to the complications your dog is exposed to if vaccinated against the disease.