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Lyme disease infecting more dogs

Q: My veterinarian offers Lyme vaccination, but I’m uncertain whether I should have my dog vaccinated because none of the neighborhood dogs have developed Lyme disease. What do you think?

A: The answer depends on where you live along with your dog’s breed, lifestyle and health status. Therefore, your veterinarian is the best person to make a recommendation about your dog.

The prevalence of Lyme disease, first recognized in Lyme, Connecticut, is increasing in dogs throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

Moreover, a recent study of 16 million canine blood samples from around the US shows that the disease is quickly spreading into areas that previously were at low risk, especially the Southeast and the Midwest, through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota.

Ticks can carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease plus a variety of other pathogens that produce serious illnesses. Therefore, the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that all dogs, regardless of where they live, be protected from ticks throughout the year. Options are a liquid applied to the skin, a tick collar or a chewable tablet.

Although they are very effective, tick preventives sometimes provide incomplete protection, so your veterinarian may recommend the addition of Lyme vaccination.

Ticks that carry Lyme disease bite not just dogs but also humans and can transmit the disease to them. So, the increasing and expanding prevalence of Lyme disease in dogs may serve as an early warning for more human disease.

Editor’s Note: Warmer weather increases the risk for Lyme Disease. Since April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs month, we’re giving you information you can use to keep your pets free of this disease.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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