Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can impact both humans and canines. It can cause serious illness in dogs, including fever, loss of appetite, joint swelling and pain, and lethargy. While humans cannot contract Lyme disease from an infected pup, both humans and dogs can be impacted if the Lyme-carrying tick latches on to both parties.
If you live in Georgia, chances are you’ve heard about the Lyme vaccination from your veterinarian or an advertisement, as ticks are common in our area. Mention of the Lyme vaccine and the scary side effects might have you wondering if you should invest in the immunization for your pup. Here’s what we’ve gathered…
Typically canine vaccinations are lumped into two categories: core and non-core. According to PetMD, core canine vaccinations include rabies and distemper and are designed to keep your pet safe from common serious illnesses. Non-core vaccinations can be important but vary depending on the unique lifestyle and environment of each animal. Ticks tend to live in the woods and/or tall grasses and the Lyme vaccine might be recommended in places that contain those types of plant life.
Here’s a map* from 2018:
*Note: these are only estimates
Many of the most common monthly flea prevention tablets have a tick prevention component as well. Veterinarians say this is a first-line defense against Lyme disease. They also recommend checking Fido for ticks that have latched on after hiking or spending time in wooded areas where ticks are likely to thrive. If you do spot a tick, it’s important that you remove them safely with tweezers rather than simply yanking them off. YouTube has plenty of quick how-to videos. Also, while not officially studied, many people suggest using solutions made with essential oils like peppermint oil or neem oil to naturally prevent ticks.
If you do decide to get the Lyme vaccine, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- The vaccination is not 100% effective, so you should still use flea and tick prevention.
- The Lyme vaccine only works to prevent Lyme disease. It doesn’t prevent other tick-borne illnesses.
- Many vaccines come with mild side effects. There isn’t much research to suggest the Lyme vaccination will cause side effects in your pup, but it’s good to be on the lookout just in case.
An important disclaimer: we are not veterinarians nor have we conducted primary research. We have gathered advice and explanations from reputable sources, but as always, we suggest you speak to your vet about your pet’s unique needs.