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Lyme disease and lepto vaccine?? Do you give it to your dogs?

18 posts in this topic

Took my two labs into the vet for their spring checkup and shots yesterday, the vet was giving me the hard sell on the lyme disease vaccine. Do you give it to your dog? Have you ever heard of a dog getting lymne disease?

He was also pushing a 'lepto' vaccine, its something to do with bad, swampy drinking water. Somehow it causes kidney and/or liver failure. Have you heard of this?

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I give both. Yes, in is not uncommon for dogs to get lymes. If you do a search, you will see it has been discussed on here quite a bit. Good friend of mine's dog had lymes this fall. Took a while for the dog to recover, even with agressive treatment. No guarantees with the vaccines but I think it is worth it.

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Heard of them both... seen a dog with Lymes once. Neither are a disease you want to deal with.

With that said, I haven't vaccinated my dogs for Lymes since the 1st (2) years they've given the vaccination. I know there were major questions on the effectiveness of the vaccination. In the interim, I've always treated my dogs that had confirmed deer tick bites with anti-biotics. That is still the protocol taken even if you do vaccinate... so I wasn't seeing the advantage to giving the vaccination. I talked to my vet last fall and he says the vaccination has undergone improvements over the years and is more effective than the earlier stuff. I haven't had a chance to get another opinion on that yet. If it's true, I will probably begin vaccinating them for it again.

I could be wrong, and will have to check when I vaccinate this summer, but I think my Solo-ject 7 way vaccine that I administer myself to my dogs covers lepto... The only vaccine I have the vet do anymore as of right now are the puppy shots and rabies (required in the state of MN for a vet to administer). All the others I do myself. I buy the vaccine in Hudson at Fleet Farm... It covers 7 diseases... distemper, parvo, (I think lepto) etc... It costs under $5 for the dose. You can also buy all the vaccinations on line from big reputable companies and adminster them your self and save a lot of money. I have 4 dogs right now and I can vaccinate all four for less than just one at the vet.

Good Luck!


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Labs, what you said jives with what my vet was saying last night. He said that the lymes vaccine has improved since it came out.

Your treatment of your dogs right away with antibiotics has me concerned since when I was killing time in the vet waiting room, I picked two ticks off one of my dogs. When the vet looked at them he said 'deer tick'. The warm weather last weekend must have gotten a few of them moving!! I will be putting the One-spot tick stuff on them later when I see more ticks but I was wondering whether she might have a problem...

As far as the lepto goes, when I was looking at my bill, one dog had the combo shot with parvo, lepto, etc and one had the straight lepto. She explained it that the parvo combo is every other year and the lepto is every year.

I need to look farther into the shots myself, I'm not even going to tell what my bill was for two dogs last night, especially when I added on the heartworm and tick stuff.

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My golden had Lymes. Made him lame in his back legs. Antibiotics and 2 vet trips cured it but it was tough to see him in so much pain. The vaccine is well worth the cost compared to getting it treated.

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Even with 'impovements' I need to check into the effectiveness of the vaccine and what steps are taken if they are still bitten before I will administer it and pay for it. If a regiment of anti-biotics is still administered as 'prevention', what is the vaccine doing? Vets probably make the majority of their profit on vaccines and other preventitive stuff...

So far, Frontline or bio-spot, and heartguard have kept all the diseases (Lymes, rocky mt. spotted fever, heartworm etc.) at bay in my kennels. (If I remeber right the deer tick has to be attached for 24 hours before the disease is transferred... they should be long dead by then), Along with the previously mentioned anti-biotic rounds...

Not saying one way or another if anyone should get them or not, those are decisions that each person needs to make for themselves.

Good Luck!


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Does anyone carry the Lyme vaccine?

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O.K., I had a moment at work where I could do some research... this may get to be a long post, but you will be able to decipher what you will from it...

Canine Lyme Disease:

Prevention, Diagnosis, Vaccination, and Treatment Issues

By Christie Keith

There are few areas in which my own thinking has undergone more change in the last few years than on the subject of tick borne diseases. I lost a dog to acute renal failure probably caused by a disease known as Lyme nephritis, and diagnosis of Lyme disease has become much more useful and sophisticated in the last couple of years as well. Furthmore, recent research suggests that Lyme is a more serious disease in dogs than previously (and still frequently) believed.

I used to say "no" to treating asymptomatic Lyme titers, and a lot of vets still do say "no." This is because early research indicated that most Lyme positive dogs never have any symptoms of the disease. I have cited this research myself (Why I Don't Use Lyme Disease Vaccines, Meryl P. Littman, VMD, ACVIM; Department of Clinical Studies School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian, November 1997). All but around 5-10 percent of dogs appeared to contract it and then fight it off and be fine. Clinical observation put this number higher, more like 15-25 percent, but still, most antibody-positive dogs did not show signs of disease. For this reason, most vets, including specialists, did not recommend "treating a titer." They reserved treatment for dogs showing clinical signs of the disease, and frankly, this seemed very sensible to me.

More recent research is suggesting, however, that this approach may not be the best, and I now do believe in treating a titer (as long as it's from the new C6 test that can distinguish between infection and vaccination antibody, if the dog has ever been vaccinated for Lyme).

In a 2005 study of 62 beagles who were infected with Lyme, 39 of the 62 dogs showed some symptoms of Lyme disease. 23 did not. This is substantially more than the 5 percent shown in an earlier study, also with beagles.

On necropsy, almost all the dogs had some signs of Lyme disease in the form of synovitis (inflammation of the joint lining) - including the asymptomatic dogs.

14 of the 62 dogs had very severe signs of Lyme infection, including inflammation of the blood vessels and nerve sheaths. Some dogs had lesions resembling those found in human Lyme disease. (Histopathological Studies of Experimental Lyme Disease in the Dog, J Comp Pathol. 2005 July, Summers BA, Straubinger AF, Jacobson RH, Chang YF, Appel MJ, Straubinger RK., Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.)

Although this is just one study, and I have some questions about how they controlled for the possibility of co-infection with other tick diseases those ticks might have been carrying, and how the asymptomatic dogs' necropsies compare to the necropsies of dogs not exposed to Lyme, I still think this tips the scales in the direction of treating exposed dogs even if they are asymptomatic.

Diagnosing Lyme in Dogs

There is a new test for Lyme disease in dogs, known as the Canine SNAP 3Dx or the C6 SNAP test, which tests for C6 antibodies to Lyme disease, and also tests for heartworm disease and ehrlichia canis, another tick borne disease. It is done in-office and is extremely accurate in detecting Lyme in dogs. That is because the C6 antibodies are only present due to actual infection, not as a reaction to the vaccine - very helpful for dogs who have been vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.

If you get a positive on the C6 SNAP test, a follow-up test should be done, called the Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody Test. This has to be sent out. This will establish the baseline values you'll want to see affected by treatment, making it a useful tool for therapy and not just diagnosis.

These tests are only available through IDEXX laboratories.

Treating Lyme in Dogs

Lyme, when caught early, is surprisingly easy to treat in dogs. Some cases become chronic and entrenched and may become incurable, but if you treat most canine cases appropriately and use the C6 quantitative assay test to monitor that treatment, you should be able to return your dog to normal health.

Conventional treatment for Lyme in dogs is an aggressive course of doxycycline or amoxicillin. Most knowledgeable practicioners prefer doxycycline because it will also treat several other tick borne diseases that may exist as undiagnosed co-infections. This website is about holistic care of dogs so I won't linger too long on this approach other than to say this: When I use allopathy, I use it aggressively. There is no point in half-measures. If you decide to use antibiotics, use the highest recommended dose your dog can tolerate and give the longest suggested course your dog can tolerate. Most failure to treat Lyme is the result of too low a dose given for too short a time.

Can Lyme be treated with alternative medicine? Yes, it can be, but it should be treated by a holistic veterinarian with experience treating it. Do not think that this serious infection can be treated at home. It requires expert care.

After treatment, whether with antibiotics or holistic alternatives, you would expect to see a 50 percent or better decrease in antibody levels on the C6 quantitative assay to be able to feel treatment was effective (combined, of course, with a cessation of all symptoms during the treatment itself, if the dog was symptomatic.)

Lyme Vaccination for Dogs

OK, you say, you're convinced me. This is a serious disease. Should I vaccinate my dog for it?

Unfortunately, there is no real nexus between the seriousness of a disease and the effectiveness or safety of a vaccine for that disease. In my opinion, the Lyme vaccine does not actually provide enough benefit to outweigh its substantial risks, despite the seriousness of canine Lyme Disease.

The Lyme vaccine can cause an untreatable form of Lyme disease and, like all bacterial diseases, provides short term immunity. It is not recommended at any of the vet schools in the United States. The human Lyme vaccine was withdrawn from the market. For all the reasons, I think that it's best avoided. But I have one more, very compelling reason.

There are other tick borne diseases that are much more serious than Lyme, for which we have no vaccines. So even if a very safe and effective Lyme vaccine were developed for dogs, having your dog vaccinated for Lyme isn't going to lessen the need for tick prevention. So it's hard to make the risk vs. benefit analysis for Lyme vaccination come out on the benefit side, no matter how you work the math.

New Principles of Immunology-Canine

Immunity is not controlled entirely by antibody levels as we once thought. Immunity is controlled by memory cells. Memory cells are B and T lymphocytes. These are white blood cells which stand ready in the body to respond with protective antibodies when challenged by a disease agent. Memory cells, once programmed, persist for the lifetime of the animal. Therefore it is possible to have low antibody levels (or titer) and still have protective immunity. Although memory cells cannot be measured, their presence can be demonstrated by challenge studies. (23)

Dogs' & cats' immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus (MLV) vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (i.e. canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper)(15- p35, 20, 21, 23) Modified live virus vaccines must replicate to stimulate the immune system. If another MLV vaccine is given, the antibodies from the first vaccine block the replication of the new virus. The actively acquired immunity in effect neutralizes the antigens of second vaccine, and there is little or no effect. (8,15,16,19,23a,23c) The titer (level of immunity) is not "boosted" nor are memory cells expanded.

Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary (6), they subject the pet to the potential risk of adverse reactions like allergic reactions, Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (4, 21) (a disease where the dog rejects its' own blood) and Injection Site Fibrosarcomas for cats.

The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents has stated: There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of modified live virus vaccines.

Puppies receive antibodies through their mother's milk (colostrum) the very first time they nurse. This natural protection can last up to 8 - 14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should not be vaccinated at less than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine & only a few (0 -35%) will be protected(6, 7, 11, 13, 20, 21, 23). Unfortunately, taking this unprotected baby out of the house and to a veterinary clinic will expose it to parvovirus without protection. Vaccination at home by a breeder at 6 weeks may provide protection for some puppies (0 -35%) It is the not the vaccination at 6 weeks that is objectionable, but the increased risk of exposure to the Parvovirus you are trying to protect against. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine.

Vaccination of dogs for Distemper at too young of an age has been shown to cause Hypertropic Osteodystrophy, especially in Weimaraners. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system (6, 27, 23).

A series of vaccinations is recommended starting at 8 weeks and given 3 - 4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another MLV vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year & 4 months) will provide lifetime immunity (15, 20, 21, 23)

Current Recommendations for Dogs

Distemper and Parvovirus In 1994, Ft. Dodge marketed a new high titer Parvovirus vaccine (RF11). Testing by Dr. Ron Schultz demonstrated that this vaccine and a new high titer vaccine from Immunovet (Proguard) provided much better protection than all other vaccines against canine parvovirus (19,23). When studies by Dr Schultz demonstrated that the new high titer vaccines by Fort Dodge and Intervet were much more effective, Meriel improved their product to match. Pfizer came out with a high titer vaccine, Vanguard puppy. Pfizer and Biocor still market the old vaccines, Vanguard 5 and Biocor.

The frustrating experiences we had prior to 1995, with vaccine breaks were largely resolved by the new improved vaccines. Attempts to improve the efficacy by more frequent administration of the vaccine are no longer necessary.

According to Dr. Schultz in the Journal of the AVMA Aug. 15. 1995, when a vaccination series given at 2, 3, and 4 months and again at 1 year(>6m0) with a modified live virus, puppies and kittens program memory cells that survive for life, providing lifelong immunity for diseases like Parvo and Distemper.(6, 15, 20, 21,23).

Dr. Leland Carmichael at Cornell University and Dr. Schultz have studies showing immunity against challenge at 7 years for canine distemper and 7 years for parvovirus; and immunity by serology out to 15 years for distemper. (22,23 B). Studies for longer duration are pending (5, 13, 14, 15, 18, 22,23 b, 23c.) *A copy of Dr Schultz's study is in our pet care library for your convenience.

Adverse events from canine distemper vaccine include vaccine induced distemper, vaccine induced folliculitis, and HOD (hypertropic osteodystrophy). HOD is most common in Wiemaraners.

Virus drift There are no new strains of parvovirus as some would like to suggest. Parvovirus vaccination provides cross immunity for all types.

Dogs will not get Parvo from the vaccine, but when the vaccine is administered at a vet clinic to 6 wk old puppies only 30% will respond to the vaccine with any protection while all will likely be exposed. It is likely some of them will come down with parvo which they caught at the Vet Clinic. For this reason we do not start the initial series of vaccinations until the puppies are 8 wks old and are better able to respond to the vaccine.*** It is not the vaccination at 6 wks that I object to but the increased exposure to the virus at the Vet Clinic at an age when maternal antibodies will interfere with the response to the vaccination. I would encourage breeders who have a problem with Parvovirus to vaccinate puppies at home with Parvo, but not Distemper, and only at 6 weeks and no younger, to aid in cutting losses.

Hepatitis (Adenovirus)- (CAV2) is one of the agents known to be a cause of "kennel cough." Only vaccines with CAV-2 should be used as CAV-1 vaccines carry the risk of "hepatitis blue-eye" reactions and kidney damage. Hepatitis (CAV1) in dogs is a very rare disease. I see several cases per year of "blue eye" from CAV 1 Vaccine purchased at a feed store. I have never seen a dog with hepatitis.

Bordetella - Parainfluenza Commonly called "kennel cough," the Parainfluenza vaccine is recommended only for those dogs boarded, groomed, taken to dog shows, or for any reason housed where exposed to a lot of dogs. The intranasal vaccine provides more rapid onset of immunity with less chance of reaction (23). Immunity requires 72 hours and does not protect from every cause of "kennel cough"

The vaccine does not contain the serovar of bordetella that a dog would likely be exposed to. It is the parainfluenza portion that is of benefit. Unfortunately an intranasal vaccine for parainfluenza without bordetella is not available.

Rabies Although there have been no reported cases of rabid dogs or cats in Harris County, Montgomery County, or Ft. Bend County, there have been rabid skunks and bats, so the potential exists.

If a dog or cat bites someone and is not vaccinated, it must be quarantined in a licensed facility. Rabies vaccine is highly recommended for your pets protection. This is a killed vaccine. Killed vaccines provide a shorter duration of immunity than MLV (19). Duration of immunity for rabies vaccine has been shown to be at least 7 years.(23b)

In Texas, rabies vaccination is required to be administered at four months of age, one year later, and then every three years for dogs. To help prevent injection site fibrosarcomas, a one year duration of immunity non- adjuvanted vaccine, Purevac, has been approved for cats. This vaccine must be administered annually. A three year license is pending.

Canine corona virus is only a disease of puppies less than eight weeks of age (15- p20). It is a rare, self-limiting disease (i.e. dogs get well in 3 days without treatment)(3). Corona virus does not cause disease in adult dogs. Cornell University and Texas A&M University have only diagnosed one case each in the last 7 years. For a veterinarian to make a diagnosis of Corona Virus based on clinical signs is highly presumptive. Only electron microscopy of feces can verify the presence of canine corona virus. This is only done at places such as Texas A & M Diagnostic Laboratory, and they report no positive tests. The presence of the virus does not indicate it is the cause of disease. Dogs over 8 wks of age cannot and have not been experimentally induced to exhibit disease from corona virus. This is age related immunity.

Immunologists have reason to believe that the vaccine does not work. Mucosal secretory IgA antibodies would be necessary to protect a dog against this disease & an injectable vaccine will not provide this type of protection.(13, 19- p18, 21) I see no justification for the use of corona virus vaccine.

In 1985 a significant number of dogs (>189) died from encephalitis caused by Corona Virus vaccine, combined with the Rockborn strain distemper. (3, 21) An unfortunate & heartbreaking catastrophe caused by an unnecessary vaccine.

Leptospirosis vaccine is a common cause of adverse reactions in dogs ranging from life threatening anaphylactic reactions to mild facial swelling and urticaria.

Leptospirosis is an infection of the kidneys and liver. Dogs and people get it from contact with urine from rats, raccoons, cows and pigs. The risk of contagion from dogs to humans is very low.

Most of the clinical cases of leptospirosis reported in dogs in the U.S. are caused by serovars (or types) L. grippotyphosa, L. pomona and L. bratislava.(1, 9, 15-p20, 21) The most commonly used vaccines contain different serovars-L. canicola & L.icterohaemmorrhagiae. Cross protection is not provided and protection is short-lived (6 - 7 months)(19) New Vaccines recently introduced by Fort Dodge include L. grippotyphosa., and L. pomona .

Although Leptospirosis in dogs seems to be increasing in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New York, this disease is rare in Texas. Records at Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab show an average of 12 cases of Leptospirosis in dogs in Texas per year. In 2000 the TVMDL recorded L. Icterohaemorrhagiae -3 cases, L. canicola -2, L. pomona -2, L grippotyphosa -1. Texas A&M University reports 31 cases in 21 years. Although this is a serious and life threatening disease, in a state with an estimated dog population of over 7 million, I do not think the risk justifies routine vaccination, with two vaccines twice per year.

This vaccine should not be given to puppies less than 16 weeks of age as it is very immunosuppressive. It can interfere with immunization against parvo & distemper. Reactions are common. Deaths due to immunosupression can occur.

Lyme Disease is a tick born disease which can cause lameness, kidney failure and heart disease in dogs and people. Ticks transmit the disease to humans. Eighty five percent of Lyme disease cases in dogs in the USA are found in nine New England area states Michigan and Wisconsin.

We do not have Lyme disease in Texas. In the N.E. U. S. Ixodid ticks acquire the Lyme disease organism from the deer mouse. The Ixodid tick in Texas feeds on lizards which do not transmit Lyme disease.

Confusion as to the occurrence of Lyme disease in Texas exists due to three things. #1. In Texas we have a disease that closely resembles Lyme Disease, Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness or STARI cause by Borrelia lonestari and spread by the Lone Star Tick. ( Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdoferi and spread by Ixodes scapularis.) #2.Lyme disease testing with the most commonly used test can give a false positive reaction to normal spirochete organisms in a dogs mouth. #3 Manufacturers of the vaccine and the test exaggerate the incidence of the disease in order to sell their product.

Texas A&M University has never seen a case of Lyme disease in a dog from Texas.

The advent of a new ,more accurate Lyme disease Test (Snap Test by Idexx) in 2000 will hopefully give us better information about the non-existence of this disease in Texas.

The average dog in Houston would be at very no risk of contracting Lyme disease. If you travel to endemic areas with your dog, you may still want to consider the safety & effectiveness of Lyme disease vaccine. Dr. Jacobson, Cornell Diagnostic Lab, reported a temporal relationship of 327 dogs which developed polyarthritis after vaccination with Lyme disease vaccine. These dogs did not show antibody titers suggestive of Lyme disease infection. Other causes of arthritis were ruled out. Lyme vaccine has been demonstrated to cause arthritis in hamsters. There is a class action suit in human medicine for failure to warn people about the possibility of developing polyarthritis from human Lyme disease vaccine.

The main antigen displayed by the Lyme disease organism inside the dogs body is Outer Surface Protein B- OSP B. Newer PCR vaccines by Muriel and Schering only contain OSP A antigens. The importance of OSP B & C antigens were discovered after the new vaccines were developed (2, 11)

Theoretically OSP A antibodies in the blood of an immunized dog are ingested by a tick. This prevents the bacteria from reproducing within the tick and therefore from being injected into the dog, if antibodies are in high enough concentrations.

Most Colleges of Veterinary Medicine do not recommend Lyme Disease vaccine.

Lyme disease prevention should emphasize early removal of ticks. Ticks must be attached to the dog for 24 hours to transmit the disease. Amitraz (Preventick) collars are more effective than Frontline as Amitraz paralyzes the tick’s mouth parts preventing transmission of disease (11). Amitraz tick collars should be used with extreme caution, as they are toxic if chewed on or swallowed by a dog or children. Frontline takes 24 - 48 hours to kill ticks, allowing for the possibility of disease transmission. This is an important aid in tick control, but will not prevent the transmission of tick born diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Babesia or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Vaccinating pets against Lyme disease does not provide any protection for the owners.

Copyright © 2003. Dr. Robert L. Rogers. All rights reserved

This is an exerpt relating to the human Lymes vaccine (which is in essence the same for your dog)

On February 26, 2002, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of the Lyme vaccine "LYMErix", pulled the vaccine off the market, blaming poor sales. However, many vaccine victims, Lyme patients and advocacy groups believe the reasons for its withdrawal are much more complicated. Research continues toward a new vaccine, and currently there is no vaccine available. While an effective method of prevention is important, given the concerns about the previous vaccine, LymeInfo urges caution in the event that a new vaccine becomes available.

Here's an article that started me thinking if Lymes vaccinations were prudent... It's from the New York Times. It is rather dated, but so far other articles and resources (as in the above first two articles) still are leaning against vaccination.

June 22, 1991

Caution Is Urged on Lyme Disease Vaccinations for Dogs


A shield to protect humans against Lyme disease is not at hand, but a vaccine to protect dogs became available last summer. Hundreds of thousands of worried dog owners around the country have already flocked to their veterinarians to obtain it.

Some leading veterinary scientists, alarmed by the rush for a magic answer to what they feel is sometimes an inflated fear, have urged that the vaccine be used sparingly until more is learned about its effectiveness and long-term safety.

"I won't give the vaccine unless I know that it's a reasonably healthy dog and it faces a serious risk of exposure to the disease," said Dr. Michael Garvey, chief of medicine at the highly regarded Animal Medical Center in New York. Dogs Are Easily Cured

Lyme disease is increasingly common in dogs that romp in tick-infested vegetation, mainly in the same regions where human Lyme disease is concentrated -- the Northeast, the upper Great Plains and the Pacific Coast. In dogs, even more than in humans, the disease is usually cured easily with antibiotics.

The new vaccine uses killed Lyme disease bacteria to induce a dog's own immune system to produce antibodies to the disease. In laboratory studies, dogs injected with the vaccine and later injected with active bacteria were found to be far less likely than unvaccinated dogs to develop lameness, fever, anorexia or other symptoms of Lyme disease. No serious side effects were noted in these studies.

With the aid of aggressive marketing, the vaccine found a ready public. Since last July nearly two million doses have been sold, according to the manufacturer, Fort Dodge Laboratories of Fort Dodge, Iowa, a subsidiary of American Home Products Corporation of New York.

The vaccine has been a boon for both the manufacturer and the veterinarians who administer it for $15 to $30 a dose. Dogs receive a sequence of two doses, then an annual booster.

The United States Department of Agriculture gave the vaccine a one-year conditional license last summer, meaning that the Department found that it was safe and had a "reasonable expectation" of being effective, but that more studies were needed.

The decision caused the kind of controversy that often surrounds new drugs for humans. Concerned about the lack of published data, the Nation al Association of State Public Health Veterinarians declared in February that it was against use of the vaccine "until questions of its safety, efficacy and need are resolved."

Fort Dodge, after releasing more test results and inviting several outside scientists to review its data, had hoped to receive an unconditional license this year. Instead, on June 14 the Agriculture Department renewed the conditional license for a year "to allow collection of additional data on the performance of the product under field conditions of use."

The department also said, "In deciding whether to use this product, we would encourage veterinarians to consider the comparative risk to each dog." The risk factors include the local incidence of Lyme disease and how much the dog is outdoors in the Lyme disease season.

Many veterinarians in Lyme-ridden regions are dispensing the vaccine freely, saying, in effect, "It can't hurt and it might help."

Others are more cautious. Days or weeks after being vaccinated, a few dogs suffer temporary Lyme-like symptoms, Dr. Garvey of the Animal Medical Center said. While this is seldom serious, he said, he is reluctant to use the vaccine in elderly dogs or those with chronic disease.

Scientists have also raised concerns about possible longer-term dangers. Evidence is growing that some ill effects of Lyme disease in humans are not caused by the bacterium directly, but by the responses to it of the body's immune system -- autoimmune effects -- said Dr. Richard H. Jacobson, a veterinary scientist at Cornell University. In theory, he vaccine might promote similar effects over time, he said. Fort Dodge scientists respond that laboratory studies and monitoring of the thousands of dogs receiving the vaccine have shown no evidence of such an effect.

The choice, as Dr. Jacobson sees it, is between administering the vaccine despite possible risks, or taking the chance that an unvaccinated dog will get Lyme disease and then treating it. "My point is, since antibiotic therapy is so effective, why not go that route?" Dr. Jacobson said.

Many scientists are wondering about the vaccine's effectiveness under field conditions, where dogs are often repeatedly infected by ticks in contrast to the injections of live bacteria in the Fort Dodge studies. It is also unclear how much protection is offered to dogs that were previously infected with Lyme disease.

To document effectiveness in the field, the company is sponsoring data collection by three veterinarians in high-risk areas. Independently, Cornell scientists, whom many veterinarians look to for advice, are testing the vaccine in laboratory dogs who will be infected via ticks. They have also asked veterinarians to report vaccinated dogs that develop the disease.

The scientists hope that by next winter, after this year's prime Lyme-disease season, some tentative answers on effectiveness will emerge. DOCTORING YOUR DOG IN ADVANCE

Spread to dogs, as to humans, by infected deer ticks, Lyme disease may cause fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, painful joints and lameness. Symptoms may not appear for weeks or months, and many infected animals do not become ill.

Accurate diagnosis in dogs is difficult; veterinarians usually consider both the pattern of symptoms and the results of a blood test for Lyme antibodies. But the test is not completely reliable and is useless in vaccinated dogs because they all carry the antibodies.

There is no evidence that the infection can spread from animals to people, but a dog or cat can bring infected ticks into the house. For all dogs, vaccinated or not, the first defense should be prevention: tick sprays, dips and repellents; avoidance if possible of the woods, brush and high grass most likely to harbor ticks, and careful inspection of pets and removal of ticks. There is evidence that a disease-carrying tick must be on the host animal for 12 to 24 hours before the Lyme bacterium enters the host.

Cats, too, get Lyme disease, but infrequently, in part, some speculate, because these careful groomers may often remove ticks before getting infected.

I'm learning more and more about vaccinations as I go... I personally do not do more than one vaccine at a time. It will over burden your pets immune system and at times the body will 'fight' off the cross immuniztion and may at that point destroy one or more of the vaccinations leaving the pet unprotected.

I'm also learning more about annual boosters and the potential that they do more harm than good. I have reputable sources who have taught me that modified live viruses only need to be administered once for a lifetime of protection (much the same as humans). Killed virus vaccines need to be given more frequently. My now 12 1/2 year old dog has not had a booster (other than rabies and bordatella) since she was 4 years old. Since then I've been giving my dogs their puppy vaccines, 1 year booster and another booster at 3... I may still be over doing it according to some... (my vet still recommends the traditional vaccine schedules). I only do the Rabies and bodatella at the clinic. (I am very conservative in all vaccination / medicinal measures). I make no stand that my method should be your method... it is up to you and your vet.

One other point to consider in the Lymes vaccination that I've found in the last couple hours of reading... Even in the best - most 'pro' vaccine study done by the manufacturer, it gives it an 80% effectiveness rating... most others have that cut by at least half (and some more)... if it is not totally effective and some other measure will be required to treat an infected pet, what is the purpose of the vaccination?

Also the more I read into this matter, many studies show most dogs will naturally fight off the disease with their own anti-bodies... only a percentage of dogs exposed to the disease will have the onset of clinical signs of the disease.

I am not a vet but only a guy who needs to make the same decisions as the rest of you. I openly discuss this matter with my vet (and other bredders) and will show him these latest articles to get his perspective. I know he recommends Lymes vaccinations, but he also knows that to date I am not doing them... It is best that each of you make your own informed decisions and follow the protocol you are comfortable with. I just won't blindly vaccinate and believe my pets are covered and will be safe. One thing I find compelling is that many articles state that most vet schools do not recommend that dogs be vaccinated for Lymes, yet the vets they turn out do...? HMMM

One other fact that I've mulled over for years is this... if Lymes is so frequent of a disease that it will manifest itself through a constant exposure of deer tick bites, every wolf, coyote, lynx, bobcat and even deer would have the disease. While I'm not saying the disease is not real and that it does not infect some animals, I am becoming a bigger believer that it is not based on if you vaccinated or not.

Do not take what I write as gospel, but rather more info to form your own opinions...

Good Luck!


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You definitely can save some $$ administering the vaccine yourself. I used to do that also but ran into problems whenever we would kennel our dogs for travel reasons, kennels all seemed to want a vet documented cert. So I stopped doing it. Maybe I need to look harder for a more friendly kennel? Also, similar issue if you take your dogs and hunt in Canada with health certificates and the vets not wanting to certify that I gave the vaccinations. On the lymes, reason I vaccinate anyways is that I think it is difficult to always confirm the tick bite. I check my dog over like everyone else (any maybe my vision isn't quite what it used to be?) but sometimes you can miss something. The few friends of mine whose dog has had lymes, none of them had confirmed tick bites. It was uncovered based upon symptoms and then further testing.

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The last three years i have had my seven year old lab in for spring check up he has tested positve for the lymes bacteria.

He was always vactinated for it starting from a pup.They have put him on medication each spring and did not seam to have a problem untill late last summer.He started to not eat and vomit green liquid,no energy,after about two months of trips and mediction from the vet we still could not come up with a cure.I decided to stop the medication and the trips after he seamed to get better on his own and i got tired of the $300.00 dollar a trip office visits.He still is some what fussy when eating wich he never was before and still has some vomit problems.Moral to my story it seams like there are alot of unknows about the disease and not much in the way of expertise in dealing with it,have talked many other vets on this subject with out much help.Going on friday for check up it should be interesting.Burl.

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Remember this Burl... once vaccinated they will ALWAYS test positive for the Lymes titer... That is one of the drawbacks to the vaccination. I would never treat a dog based on his titer counts... was he showing clinical signs of Lymes? I treated based on confirmed bites, but my 'new' threshold may be only on outward signs, I still have some more reading to do... I have been lucky that I rarely find a deer tick on my dog(s) and even then when I do I feel I get them pretty quick as I am vigialntly checking them through the spring and fall tick seasons...

Good Luck!


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I have a second Brittany now so vet bills are double now.

It is one more yearly expense, but an important one. The vet

told me there is another disease carried by misquitto, but no vacine yet available. It is heartguard and frontline season now. Cheaper to buy online. My two cents

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I enjoyed reading your responce,learned more from this web site than from talking to my vet.I know when i go in they will be pushing the one month of antibiotics,not sure what to do now.I thought of going to a different clinic but not sure it is a good idea due to the work that already has been done.I do know our dog has not been them same since last fall.He has shown signs of no problems but then the symtomes will show back up.Thanks,Burl.

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My lab went through a bout with lymes about 1.5 years ago. It was actually Thanksgiving day, when I let her out of the kennel and she was limping (lameness is a common sympton, the limping might switch from one leg one day to the other leg the next), no sooner than I noticed this she had a seizure (not a common sympton, but difficult to watch happen to anyone let alone a dog). She tested positive for Lymes and had not been vaccinated. She was treated with a heavy dose of antibiotics for at least 6 weeks. It was tough on her and she wasn't herself, low energy and poor eating habits. She was finally able to go for a couple short pheasant hunts after Christmas. During this long process I was able to learn some information about the disease and now I have a vet that I can trust. He does push the vaccination for lymes, but does now reccomend it because it supposed to be about 70% effective should be used in conjuction with Front-Line.

Burl, my dog made a full recovery, but she also developed some poor eating habits. I have to coax her into eating at times, but she doesn't have the vomitting.

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I'm not trying to be a vaccine basher but I am going ot try to diseminate as much info about this subject as I can find... everyone will have to choose their own course.

and now the rest of the story...

I read the report from Cornell University, Their findings are that once you factor in the dogs that contract Lymes disease from the vaccination and other vaccine factors, they still do not recommend vaccinating for Lymes. The benefit to risk ratio does not sway it in favor of doing it. They are working on a new vaccine that is promising, but is still years away from being given. If people want to read it, I will find it again and post it. I'm going to a wedding tonight so it won't be until tomorrow.

I also read a report on how Vets in school are taught to vaccinate. It is totally different than what is being practiced. I also read another report stating 40-50% of a clinics income is made on vaccinations... maybe that is the reason why they push them. Again none or almost none, of the university's that teach Veterinary Science recommends Lymes vaccinations... then why are all the vets in practice pushing them. A lot of it comes from the vaccine manufacturer pushing it on the vets and the public. It is no different than the pharmacuetical companies inundating us with prescription advertising. We all want the golden sword...

Again with the additional reading I've done this week, there is no logical reason for me to decide that vaccinating for Lymes gives me or my dogs any benefit and therefore I will continue to not do it. I am going to bring all the pages I've read to my vet and see what he thinks. I know he will be honest with me... Even at 70% that is not enough coverage... Rabies isn't 70% effective, distemper isn't 70% effective, parvo, boretella etc. Oh and the 70% effective rate is from the manufactuer, not any independent study... which generally run at 30-40% effective, but that is not factoring the dogs that actually contract Lymes from the vaccine.

I think we as guardians of our pets owe it to them to study if what we are giving them is prudent. If all of a sudden your Doc said to bring your kid in for his measle and whooping cough and polio vaccination every or every other year would you do it? Or would you look into it and see if it was truley nessacary. To many times the excuse I hear is, it doesn't cost that much and it can't hurt him, but might help him... would that be the tact you take with your children.

If you are comfortable doing the vaccinations, by all means continue. I'm not advocating that everone stop in their tracks and quit vaccinating, but I think you owe it to your pets to inform yourself as much as possible that you are taking the proper route in their care. As I stated this is my route and it has worked. I am conservative in all medicinal matters. I am open with my vet, and am just trying to share another side of the story which most never hear....

Good Luck!


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Labs, thanks for the info. Sometimes we tend to take everything from our vets at face value. At a minimum, I wil do more research on the subject. Thanks again

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The trip to the vet on friday was interesting.My lab tested positve for the lmyes bacteria again but not a real high count.They pushed for the antibiotics and the lmyes shot even after we dicussed the some of the information i brought up.The vet seemed real defensive when i did not agree with her.I will keep a close watch on the dogs health and most likely be looking for a new vet to bring him to if something does happen.The gal kept saying the dog would develope kidney failure and not be able to be saved.She also recomended fish oil tablets for his coat and profesionaly cleaning his teeth.I never did anything like this to the last two labs i had and did not have any problems.Seams like they are just trying to pad up the bill.Burl.

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I have decided that for now Maggie gets the Lymes vac. Due to the amount of time we spend in Deer tick areas. The info. on this site has been great and after I reading more of it I will rethink Maggie continueing to get the Lymes vac.

With regard to professional teeth cleaning. I am for it. We did this once and there was an amazing differance in Maggie's breath. If anyone can give me tips on cleaning a a 60 lbs. labs teeth without going to a pro. it would be great. Trying to brush Maggie's teeth is such a challenge that it leaves everyone just plain ticked off.

Thanks for the info.

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