Vaccinations are a necessary part of maintaining your pet's health. In areas where Lyme disease is highly endemic, particularly the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it is recommended to have your pet vaccinated against Lyme disease-causing bacteria. Several vaccine formulations are available for dogs that provides an additional layer of protection and significantly reduces the chance of contracting Lyme disease even when bitten by an infected tick. No vaccine or repellent is 100% effective, but combining immunization with once-a-month tick preventive treatments provides your dog with the maximum protection possible against tick bites and Lyme disease.
The vaccine, administered by your veterinarian, contains killed Lyme disease-causing bacteria (or better, man-made recombinant bacterial proteins) that boost the body's immune system to help fight off possible infections. Following the initial vaccination and a booster shot 2-4 weeks later, your dog will develop protective antibodies lasting the whole year. To maintain strong immunity against these insidious bacteria, a single, annual immunization is necessary to help keep your dog healthy. So remember to ask your veterinarian about vaccinating against Lyme disease on your next visit.
A good time to boost your dog’s Lyme antibodies is at the end of summer, several weeks before adult deer tick activity begins in October.
**Even if your dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease in the past, they still should be vaccinated. Previous infection with Lyme disease-causing bacteria does not confer protection against future infected tick bites, so get dogs vaccinated today. In dogs with previous exposure to infected deer ticks, the recombinant protein form of the vaccine may be safest – ask your vet to determine which form of vaccine is best for your situation.
There is no scientific evidence that suggests cats succumb to Lyme disease, therefore they do not need to be vaccinated. Although cats don't appear to get Lyme symptoms, ticks that ride in on your cat pose a great risk to you and your family. So apply tick preventive products that are safe for cats and kill the ticks that may come home with them.