Lyme disease is caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria
Borrelia burgdorferi. It causes similar symptoms in dogs and in people
including fever, lethargy, joint pain (often characterized by pain
moving from one joint to another), and infection and inflammation of the
kidneys. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to kidney failure and
death. Dogs are not typically plagued by chronic Lyme disease like
people. Typically treatment once resolves the active infection in dogs.
How can my dog contract Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is passed by ticks. The most common type of tick
associated with Lyme disease is the deer tick. The tick must attach to
the dog and feed for approximately 24 hours to transmit the disease.
Many dogs are exposed to Lyme disease but their immune system can fight
off infection without medical treatment.
About the Lyme disease vaccine:
There is a vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease in
dogs. The Merial Recombitek Lyme is the most effective; however, no Lyme
vaccine offers 100% protection. Some studies have reported efficacy as
low as 60%. The vaccine requires 2 initial doses given 3 weeks apart. It
is then boostered annually.
Does my dog need the Lyme vaccine?
The vaccine should be considered for dogs at high risk.
High risk areas of the United States include the New England and
Mid-Atlantic regions. Discuss the use of topical tick preventative along
with the risks and benefits of the vaccine with your vet.