Dog Lyme Disease

Why it’s Important to Protect Your Dog from Lyme Disease

Dr. Thea Madill

Nov 21, 2023

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Have you ever heard of Lyme disease? Do you know what it is and how dangerous it can potentially be for dogs? Why is it a good idea to get your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease, especially if you live in a Lyme-prone area?

In the article below, we’ll help you understand more about the important reasons to have your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. With the help of this guide, you can consider whether or not this vaccination, as well as, the use of tick prevention, is necessary for your pet.

Reasons to Get Your Dog Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease

Listed below are reasons to get this vaccine for your dog:

Living in Specific Locations

Depending on where you and your dog live, Lyme disease may be more of a risk than it is in other locations. Although Lyme disease is found in almost all the United States and is spreading rapidly throughout the country (and beyond), it is considerably more common in the Northeastern United States.

The Upper Midwest and Mid-Atlantic are also seeing an increasing number of Lyme disease diagnoses annually. In these regions, vets are likely to recommend dog owners pursue Lyme disease vaccination on an annual basis after completing the initial series.

Frequent Trips Outside

The more time your dog spends outdoors, the more likely they are to come in contact with ticks. Although many ticks that find their way onto your dog’s furry coat may not carry any diseases, tick-borne illness is a very real and concerning threat for pets, and their owners!

Lyme disease isn’t the only tick-borne illness your dog is at risk of contracting when frequenting the outdoors, but it can be one of the most dangerous. If you and your dog spend a lot of time hiking, camping, or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors together, tick protection is a must—for both of you.

Acute Lyme Disease Symptoms

Acute symptoms are those that occur suddenly, or very soon after, a tick bite. These symptoms may include pain and swelling at the site of the bite as well as fatigue or loss of appetite. Dogs may also experience swelling of the lymph nodes soon after contracting Lyme disease, which can cause additional pain.

By having your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease in prevalent areas, and (arguably) more importantly, keeping them on an oral monthly tick preventative year-round, you can significantly reduce their odds of contracting the disease.

Chronic Lyme Symptoms

Chronic symptoms are those that take a longer time appear. They are typically seen as early as 2-5 months after infection. Of note, only 5-10% of animals infected are expected to show clinical signs of Lyme disease. In other words, your dog can still be infected with Lyme disease, and not show clinical signs. Unfortunately, Lyme disease can be a long-lasting illness for a number of dogs, and it is not uncommon for pets to experience symptoms of chronic Lyme disease that require indefinite management following a diagnosis.

The most common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease include swelling and pain in the joints, lameness (particularly shifting-leg lameness that appears like your dog is “walking on eggshells”), weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, reduced appetite, neurologic abnormalities, and symptoms relative to kidney dysfunction such as increased thirst and urination. Some dogs may become very hypersensitive to touch, especially in the back legs and other areas of their body more commonly affected by the swelling associated with Lyme disease.

Reducing the Risk of Long-Term Vet Bills

Of course you want to protect your dog from the symptoms and organs affected with contraction of Lyme disease, but it’s also a good idea to prevent yourself from having to pay large vet bills when you have a chronically ill dog, too. If your dog experiences Chronic Lyme disease, you may have to take them to the veterinarian frequently and keep up with treatments such as lifelong medication(s) and/ or physical therapy.

You can significantly reduce the risk of excessive future vet bills by having your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease, with concurrent administration of a monthly oral tick preventative.

Even Indoor Dogs Need Protection

If you live in a Lyme-prone region, even an indoor dog should be protected against Lyme disease. In such areas where blacklegged (deer) ticks are extremely prevalent, your dog could risk coming into contact with these ticks even on their daily bathroom breaks in the back-yard or on the streets of NYC (Yes, that is correct – I have seen dogs infected with Lyme that have never left the city).

Talk to your vet about Lyme disease risks depending on your region. If your vet recommends the Lyme vaccine for your indoor-only dog, this is likely because of a high prevalence of Lyme disease where you live.

Contact VEG for More Information About Dog Lyme Disease

Based on this information, it’s easy to see why Lyme disease can be such a risk for your pet. If you live in a place where Lyme disease is common, or if you vacation or travel to Lyme-prevalent regions, then you should strongly consider pursuing the Lyme vaccine for your dog.

For more information on this disease or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, contact VEG by calling one of our locations. We have locations all over the country that are open 24/7, 365 days a year (including holidays). When you come to VEG, you can be rest assured that your pet will get the proper care they need.