What you need to know about Lyme Disease

What you need to know about Lyme Disease

Vaccinating Your Dog Against Lyme Disease (1)


If you live in Ohio, Lyme Disease has been a shadow looming over us for a long time. It used to be “just a New England thing”, but now it has crept into our neck of the woods in its never ending march westward. We’ve known it was coming for months – years even. Now it is finally here.


Our job now becomes one of estimating the threat and providing an appropriate response to keep our dogs safe and protected from this disease. This is part of what we as veterinarians do all the time. Due to the costs, and a desire to keep the number of vaccinations as low as possible in every patient, for many months, the opinion of AVC was one of preferring faithful application of tick preventatives over Lyme vaccination. Recently our official stance has changed regarding the Lyme vaccine. Although it is technically not considered a core vaccine, due to finding not one, but two Lyme positive dogs in the past month – we feel that this vaccine needs to be made available to our clients. It is because of these positive dogs that we have starting carrying a small amount of Merial Lyme Vaccine. We are now making the option available to all our dog parents so that they can keep their dogs protected.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • What is Lyme Disease? 

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria that is transmitted via tick bites. It can affect humans, dogs, horses and cattle. Cats typically do not contract Lyme Disease.

  • How do I know if my dog has Lyme Disease? 

The best, most accurate way to detect Lyme Disease is a blood test. At AVC, we use a test called a 4DX that tests for Heartworm Disease, Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. The test uses a small sample of blood, and gives us results in about 10 minutes. We perform this test on our patients yearly to make sure they haven’t been exposed to these diseases over the course of the previous year. Other symptoms of Lyme Disease that you may notice at home are joint pain/lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite, and reduced energy.

  • Is Lyme Disease fatal?

Not usually. However, in a small number of infected dogs, the bacteria can damage the kidneys which can lead to glomerulonephritis, which is nearly always fatal.

  • Is Lyme Disease treatable?

The good news is yes, Lyme Disease is treatable with an extended trial of antibiotics. Not all dogs who test positive for Lyme will develop clinical signs, however, AVC always recommends treating with antibiotics to help prevent the onset of clinical signs, and especially to protect the kidneys from damage. Although antibiotics should always be used judiciously the doctors feel that the potential protection against acute kidney disease and uncomfortable Lyme symptoms warrants the used of extended antibiotics for any Lyme positive dog. Even though Lyme Disease is technically a treatable infection, the best option is always to prevent it in the first place!

  • Is Lyme Disease preventable? 

Thankfully, yes! Lyme Disease can be prevented by vaccination against the bacteria that the ticks carry, by staying consistent with your dog’s tick prevention medications, or you can be extra safe and do both! (Which is what we recommend, especially for dogs with a high exposure risk)

  • Is it effective? 

Yes! The Merial Recombitek Lyme Vaccine was able to protect 100% of the dogs in their study after a severe natural exposure.

  • Is the vaccine safe? What about vaccine reactions?

The specific type of Lyme Vaccine that we chose to carry at AVC is the safest, least reactive vaccine that you can purchase. The Recombitek Lyme is a type of vaccine that does not contain the entire bacteria, but only parts of the proteins that allow it to create immunity, but doesn’t include the extra “junk” proteins that are not needed for immunity, and often those proteins are what cause allergic reactions. Because this is a much cleaner vaccine, it causes far fewer allergic reactions. It is also a non-adjuvanted vaccine, which is by far the safest type of vaccine on the market.

  • How do I get my dog vaccinated? 

For any dog who has never received the Lyme Vaccine, or hasn’t received one within the last 5 years, they will require one temporary vaccine, and a booster 2-3 weeks later. If your dog has had their yearly physical within the last 12 months, and is otherwise up to date on all their regular vaccinations, our veterinary technicians can administer the Lyme vaccine, and they will not require another physical exam.

  • Is it expensive? 

Sadly, the Lyme Vaccine is a bit higher than your dog’s regular vaccines. We won’t lie, the price has been factored into our decision to carry the vaccination in the past, but we feel that at this time we can no longer rely solely on flea and tick preventatives to protect our dogs, and we feel the vaccine is an important part of our defense against this disease. We have tried to price the Lyme Vaccine at the lowest price point we can, and currently it costs $35 per vaccine.

  • Should I vaccinate my dog?

It depends on you and your dog. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you walk or hike with your dog? Do you live near areas with a high density of trees, or near any fields? Does your dog go outside to potty? If you answered yes, you might want to consider getting your dog protected. Ticks are literally everywhere, and this year we have seen an abnormally high amount of ticks. It is truly a personal decision whether you think your dog should be vaccinated or not, however, we can say that we highly recommend it.

  • Ok, sign me up! How can I schedule my pup? 

This part is simple! You can give us a call at 330-833-3127, or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!


What on earth is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis, or Lepto as it is more commonly referred to, is a bacterial infection that people and pets can be afflicted by. The bacteria is spread via infected urine and stays alive in stagnant or slow-moving water. All it takes is for you or your dog to have a small cut on the bottom of your foot, and Lepto can get in and start wreaking havoc.

Leptospirosis is a controversial disease to vaccinate against for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason people state against vaccination is that Lepto is a treatable disease. Since it is a bacterial infection, it is true that antibiotics can successfully treat Leptospirosis. However, many times Leptospirosis can go undetected as it’s symptoms can imitate other diseases, many of those which are more common than Lepto. In some instances, by the time the infection has been detected, the poor patient’s kidneys and/or liver have been completely attacked and are failing – not to mention the animal has put their owner at a high level of exposure. Yep – you guessed it – Leptospirosis is zoonotic, which means humans can be infected, and it makes us just as sick as our dogs.

Also, once the bacteria has attacked the kidneys and liver it’s possible to have caused irreversible damage to those organs, and even though you can treat with antibiotics and clear the infection you are still left with a dog that is in kidney failure, liver failure, or both. You see Lepto can attack any organ in the body that it wants, but most typically goes for the kidneys and liver. However, it can do damage to the heart, lungs, and can even cause meningitis. Due to its damaging effects on internal organs paired with the potential for human exposure and infection – Leptospirosis is a disease that is very dangerous, and one we recommend most dogs be immunized against.

Recommendations on vaccines are never given lightly, and we strive to make recommendations truly based on the well-being of our patients, taken in an individual basis depending on their lifestyle. These recommendations can change significantly from year to year, and anytime we receive new research information we can adjust accordingly. One such adjustment we have made in the past was going from a protocol wherein we recommended Lepto vaccination only to outdoor farm dogs and hunting dogs to a recommendation to vaccinate most dogs for this disease. We made the decision to recommend the vaccine to most dogs, even if they lived within city limits, because we found out new information that the disease was in the process of changing its carrier. Historically Lepto was most commonly carried in cows, and therefore the dogs who were at the highest risk were farm dogs and hunting dogs who came into contact with cow runoff.

In present times, the most common Lepto carriers are rodents with statistics telling us that some 20% of rats are carrying the Leptospira bacteria. This means that every dog is at risk – since rats and mice are everywhere. Not to mention squirrels, skunks, raccoons, possums, and other “wild” animals that have evolved to survive within city limits due to humans encroaching on their natural environments. The bacteria is out there, it could be in the squirrel that urinates on the grass in your backyard – which your dog walks on and sniffs every day.

No vaccine is without risks, but now more than ever we need to take the time to think about whether the benefit outweighs the risks. We do not recommend giving Lepto vaccinations to dogs who have had a history of vaccine reactions, and above all we take care in how this vaccine is handled and given to our patients. Dogs do not receive the vaccine until they are at least 12 weeks of age. We also use special ULTRA brand vaccines made by Boehringer Ingelheim that have gone through a “cleaning” process and as a result have far fewer proteins and additives that tend to cause vaccine reactions in dogs. We also make it our mission to educate clients how to watch for signs of vaccine reactions. Although reactions can be scary, thankfully they are typically mild, and quite rare. The risks in this case are quite low, and the benefits definitely outweigh them for most dogs.

Everyone has the right to make informed, educated decisions about what goes into their pet’s body, but as the staff of a veterinary clinic who have seen dogs pass away from kidney failure caused by Leptospirosis, or watched a dog suffer as their liver shut down, and knew that it was a completely unnecessary loss, we ask that if you have questions please feel free to approach us and ask. Ask the staff, double check with the doctor for an honest recommendation. We make recommendations based on our patient’s well-being, not our own. We are always open to discussion when it comes to vaccines!



New Screening Gives Cats and Dogs Best Chance Against Kidney Disease


Here at Aquadale, we see a lot of pets impacted by kidney disease. And we’re not alone. In their lifetime, over 1 in 3 cats¹, and 1 in 10 dogs² will get kidney disease. Worse, they typically show no signs of illness until their kidneys have lost most of their function permanently. As pets age, the likelihood pets will develop kidney disease worsens. In fact, more than half of cats over age 15 are afflicted.³

Now the IDEXX SDMA™ test, a breakthrough new kidney disease screening test available at Aquadale, changes that. With the IDEXX SDMA kidney screening test, we can detect this serious disease months to years earlier, when there is still time to do something about it. This is fantastic news, especially for our long-suffering feline friends, as the IDEXX SDMA test can detect kidney disease when much of a pet’s kidney function is still intact. This gives us the chance to take action and give your pet the best shot for a healthy, happy, long life, even with kidney disease.

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