One of the most important measures you can take is to have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease, especially if you live in an area where exposure to Lyme disease is high. Annual vaccination is an affordable means to help protect your dog from a disease that can be very costly to treat. Many dogs that become infected with Lyme disease are never fully free of infection despite antibiotic treatment. Ask your veterinarian if he or she uses a vaccine that protects against Lyme disease.
Your veterinarian will determine an appropriate vaccination series, depending on your dog's vaccination history and risk factors. Your dog may require an initial vaccination and a booster a few weeks later. Annual vaccination is needed for continued protection.
Vaccination before a dog becomes infected provides the best outcome. Depending on the risk factors for your dog, the following vaccination protocols are often used.
- Vaccinate puppies as part of their puppy shots.
- Vaccinate dogs whose vaccination and disease history is unknown.
- If an adult dog is not vaccinated, test for antibodies to see if your dog has ever been exposed to Lyme disease. This test can be done in the exam room at the same time your dog is being tested for heartworms at his annual exam. It is highly accurate and you'll get the results in about 10 minutes.
- If the test is positive AND the dog has some signs of Lyme disease such as tenderness or swelling in his or her legs, a fever, or he or she seems lethargic, your veterinarian will determine the appropriate treatment.
- If the test is positive AND the dog is NOT showing signs of Lyme disease, it is up to the client and veterinarian to decide what course of therapy to take. One Lyme vaccine has been proven safe in dogs that test positive for Lyme infection.
- One Lyme vaccine has been proven safe in dogs that test positive for Lyme infection. All vaccinated dogs should receive an initial vaccination and a booster at least 2 weeks later.
Annual revaccination is recommended. Ask us about the effectiveness and safety of Lyme vaccines and the best vaccination protocol for your dog (412) 882-3070.