April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month
What is Lyme Disease? Lyme Disease is an illness caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which are carried in the midgut of deer ticks and transmitted to dogs through a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include lameness that shifts from leg to leg, swollen joints, lack of appetite, depression, fever, difficulty breathing. As the disease progresses, it can cause serious injury to the dog’s kidneys.
How do dogs get Lyme Disease? When a deer tick carrying B. burgdorferi feeds on a dog for at least 48 hours, the bacteria are “awakened” and travel out of the tick’s midgut, into the dog’s bloodstream, through the site of the tick bite.
This is not a deer tick, but it is a well-fed tick.
Here’s where it gets a little technical: While the bacteria, B. burgdorferi, resides in the tick’s gut, they are protected by a special coating called Outer Surface Protein A (OspA). A dog that is vaccinated for Lyme Disease has — circulating in its blood — antibodies to OspA. When the tick ingests the blood, the OspA antibodies travel to the tick’s midgut and attack the B. burgdorferi there — before they’ve had a chance to awaken and mobilize.
So, rather than the vaccine-induced antibodies attacking an organism that has already entered the dog’s body, they instead attack the organisms outside the dog’s body, while still in the host. That is why we — cheekily — refer to it as “vaccinating the tick.”
Think of Lyme Disease vaccine as the vaccine that stops an organism before it reaches your pet: like an invisible force field! Pretty cool, huh?
But remember: deer ticks and other ticks can transmit nasty diseases in addition to Lyme Disease. There is no vaccine (yet) for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis (and the list goes on.) For that reason, we recommend year-round tick control, like the Seresto collar. Stop those little pests cold!
Ready to vaccinate your dog against Lyme Disease? Contact Us to schedule an appointment.
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