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Lyme Disease Vaccine for Dogs: Is It Recommended?

If you have pets in your family, your primary concern is keeping them healthy, happy, and safe. Doing so means protecting your animals from things like disease, dangerous or high-risk animals, and parasites like worms, fleas, and ticks.
Lyme Disease Vaccine for Dogs

One crucial way to keep your pets safe is through routine health check-ups, vaccines, treatments that fight disease infection, and more.

Not sure which vaccines are most important? The team at Metrovet can help.

This piece covers the importance of Lyme Disease vaccine administration in dogs, especially in high-risk areas in North America or dogs susceptible to direct transmission from deer ticks, which are the primary carrier of Burgdorferi strains.

It’s important to note that Lyme Disease in dogs has been reported in all states in the United States and can be a concern for pet owners regardless of where they live. There are specific areas in North America where the disease is more prevalent (known as an endemic region or regions), including the Northeast, Pacific Coast areas, and the Upper Midwest.

Regardless of your location in North America and whether you’re in Borreliosis-endemic areas, talk to your vet about how to best protect your individual animal from a Borrelia Burgdorferi infection, whether that includes vaccine doses, tick and flea protection, or other recommendations.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme is a disease and infection that can cause an adverse reaction in your pet, including swelling or lameness. The disease is also known as Lyme Borreliosis.

If left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause severe neurological and cardiac problems, kidney disease or failure, and even death. This disease is caused by Bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi or, less commonly, Borrelia mayonii.

Animals who receive disease vaccines to prevent an infection from a tick bite may experience mild side effects or none at all once protected because the vaccine creates a protective antibody response in the individual animal.

Maintaining levels of the antibody can help fight the natural infection that would occur after a bite from an infected tick, which is why administering regular doses of vaccine to fight a Borrelia Burgdorferi infection is critical if you live in North America.


You may notice fever and lameness if your dog is bitten by a tick infected with B. Burgdorferi. Your dog may be more tired or sluggish than usual, and the immune response can also cause lymph nodes to swell.

As with most diseases, the risk of severe health problems is elevated in senior dogs or younger dogs below a few months or weeks of age. In extreme cases, your dog may experience kidney failure, cardiac events, and neurological problems that can lead to death. That is why the Borrelia Burgdorferi vaccine in dogs is so important to protect against these serious health concerns.

If your dog is not vaccinated, but they were exposed to ticks and are showing signs like those listed above, contact your veterinary practice immediately.

Causes Of Lyme Disease

Causes Of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease comes from an infected tick that bites your pet, causing transmission of bacteria known as Borrelia Burgdorferi. Vaccine recipients are better protected against Borrelia Burgdorferi and therefore are less likely to develop an infection from the bacteria.

How much does the Lyme vaccine for dogs cost?

At Metrovet, we understand that keeping your pet happy and healthy is your top priority. And we partner with our clients to do that in a way that is mindful of your budget. We provide input on vaccine doses and options that allow you to select the best plan for your pet.

Call us to ask about the costs of various doses of vaccine, including the Lyme Borreliosis vaccine, and others critical to protecting your dog.

What side effects will my dog have after getting a vaccine?

Getting the proper doses of vaccine can protect your pet from things like Borrelia Burgdorferi and other diseases prevalent in North America. But many pet owners wonder about potential side effects.

Studies of everything from various vaccine formulations to the analysis of antibody response to side effects can leave you wondering if vaccinating your pet is worth any potential adverse events. The answer, in many cases, is yes.

And at Metrovet, we can help you evaluate your pet’s situation and health so you can make an informed decision.

Dog vaccinations’ most common side effects are slight lethargy or a low-grade fever. Both of these side effects typically resolve naturally in about one to two days. Severe adverse events, such as facial paralysis, were reported in less than 12 cases out of 1.4 million.

What breeds are more prone to vaccine reactions?

dogs taking sunbath

While genetic makeup and other factors likely influence whether or not your dog reacts to a vaccine, one study of over one million dogs suggests that small breed dogs are at a higher risk of developing a reaction. Dachshunds, Boston Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas, and Pugs were noted as the top five breeds that reacted more than average. Boxers were also pointed out in the study as potentially more sensitive, the only larger breed to make the list.

Lyme Disease Vaccine Risks, Benefits, and Side Effects

As we’ve outlined above, Borreliosis in dogs is a dangerous, sometimes fatal disease. Understanding your dog’s risk, including where you live in the United States and your dog’s potential for exposure, are important factors to consider.

When it comes to the benefits of the Lyme Borreliosis vaccine, the biggest pro is the reduction of potential infection to your dog when bitten by a tick with the Borrelia Burgdorferi infection.

Risks of the vaccine include potential side effects your dog may experience. According to one study of 1.2 million dogs, administration of the Lyme disease vaccine alone (monovalent bacterin) caused more adverse effects than other vaccines within three days of administration. These events were described as “moderate” and not significant.

Canine Lyme disease vaccines contain outer surface protein A or OspA. This protein attaches to the tick and is expressed on Borrelia burgdorferi while in a tick. This process induces anti-outer surface protein antibodies.

Below are the specific findings that describe side effects that can occur:

      • OspA without adjuvant is a polyclonal B cell mitogen that induces pro-inflammatory cytokines,5 causes arthritis in rats,13 and causes a strong TH1 response in people with HLA-DR4 haplotype, immune-mediated arthritis, and high anti-OspA antibodies after natural infection.14

      • Lyme bacterin as well as OspA alone causes arthritis in hamsters15 and sensitization16 so that more severe arthritis is produced with boosters.17

      • Lyme bacterins were not developed for humans since various Lyme disease antigens appear to have a role in post Lyme disease immune-mediated diseases.18

      • In dogs with suspected Lyme nephritis, immunohistochemistry and elution studies have shown positive staining of glomerular immune complexes for a variety of Lyme antigens, including OspA and others, which are also found in Lyme disease vaccines.5

    The challenge with assessing side effects is that sometimes, inflammation or other effects may show up months after vaccinations. It can be difficult to determine what is related and what may be normal health situations.

    Regarding suspected Lyme nephritis cases, the research showed that 30% of patients had received the Lyme vaccine before the illness, from as little as two weeks to as long as fifteen months. Because an experimental model isn’t available for Lyme nephritis, it is difficult to determine if the vaccine prevents or aggravates this condition.

    The best course of action is to discuss your dog’s overall health, risks, and additional factors with your veterinarian to determine if the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any potential side effects.

    How often is a Lyme disease vaccine needed?

    For puppies that are given a Lyme disease vaccine, the standard protocol for vaccine administration is two boosters given a few weeks apart. Your vet can help you determine your puppy’s risk factors before giving the vaccine, including if you live in one of the endemic regions in North America. An endemic region are geographic regions with heavy exposure risk to tick-borne diseases, such as Rhode Island and other northeastern areas).

    Once your dog has received the initial boosters, your vet may recommend a booster six months later or annually. The recommendation will likely depend on your dog’s risk of encountering disease positive ticks infected with Borrelia Burgdorferi strains.

    Efficacy of the Vaccine

    Studies show that reported efficacies of Borrelia burgdorferi vaccines in dogs are variable. In some cases, protection may be as low as 50% and as high as 100%. Talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s exposure risk and if combating Borrelia Burgdorferi cells and infection with a vaccine is the best option to keep your pet disease negative.

    Why You Should Still Use Flea and Tick Prevention

    Lyme vaccines for dogs are not the only way to protect your pet from a disease agent, such as ticks infected with Borrelia Burgdorferi. Most vets recommend using a topical or oral flea and tick prevention option, in addition to a Lyme disease vaccine (or on its own). That is because avoiding a tick bite is the best prevention against Lyme disease and is more effective than the vaccine alone.

    Ask Your Vet if the Lyme Disease Vaccine is Right for Your Dog

    Ask about flea and tick control options at your next veterinary appointment. Our team would be happy to help you navigate how to supplement healthcare options with essential preventative products.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much does the Lyme Disease Vaccine for dogs cost?

    The cost for any vaccine will vary depending on your clinic. For a Lyme Disease vaccine, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20-$40. Contact us if you need a quote for your pet’s vaccinations.

    What breeds are more prone to vaccine reactions?

    Studies have shown that smaller breeds of dogs such as chihuahuas, dachshunds, and others are more likely to have vaccine reactions. 

    How common is Lyme Disease in dogs?

    While Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted sicknesses in the world, it only causes symptoms in 5-10% of dogs. So, your dog may have it, but not show symptoms. 

    Where do I learn more about Lyme disease vaccines for dogs?

    The best place to start is with your local veterinarian. At Metrovet, we understand that assessing your dog’s location, risk exposure, general health, and more is essential before administering any vaccine. We are happy to help you navigate the best course of action for your pet.

    Click here to book an appointment with our professional team or call to ask questions about the vaccines we offer for your pet. We’d love to be your go-to partner to help you keep your pet happy and healthy.

    Researching Lyme disease and interested in learning more about the medical research or understanding causative agents? We recommend visiting This comprehensive source explains the background and research related to the Lyme disease vaccine.

    The article also helps outline the science and related terms like burgdorferi outer, genus designation, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infections, B. Burgdorferi b31 proteins, bactericidal antibody responses, monoclonal antibodies, immunogenic proteins and Burgdorferi proteins (such as outer surface protein A, outer surface protein C) vaccinal antibody, and more.

    Sources in the article are experts and researchers in the study of B. Burgdorferi infection in dogs, mol microbiol, microbiol immun, and include excerpts from:

    Vet Ther 3, 420–424. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Levy SA, Lissman BA, and Ficke CM (1993).

    J Clin Microbiol 27, 13–20. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Anguita J, Ramamoorthi N, Hovius JW, Das S, Thomas V, Persinski R, Conze D, Askenase PW, Rincon M, Kantor FS, et al. (2002).

    Vaccine 24, 4440–4449. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Grimm D, Tilly K, Byram R, Stewart PE, Krum JG, Bueschel DM, Schwan TG, Policastro PF, Elias AF, and Rosa PA (2004).

    Med Microbiol Immunol 182, 37–50. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Jobe DA, Lovrich SD, Schell RF, and Callister SM (2003).

    BMC Vet Res 14, 312. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Gross DM, Forsthuber T, Tary-Lehmann M, Etling C, Ito K, Nagy ZA, Field JA, Steere AC, and Huber BT (1998).

    Littman MP, Goldstein RE, Labato MA, et al. Littman et al.

    Appl Environ Microbiol 69, 2825–2830. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Hasle G (2013).

    Additional Source:

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