Lyme disease and Prevalence

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. In North America, it is primarily transmitted by Deer ticks, also known as Blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Ixodes pacificus, also known as Western-Blacklegged ticks, can also transmit Lyme and are found primarily on the West Coast of North America.

Ixodes ticks have a 2 year life cycle. The juvenile life forms are known as larvae and nymphs. These larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents, birds, and lizards before developing into adults. Adult ticks prefer to feed on deer and larger mammals, including dogs. Ticks can be present at any time of the year. They are most active during the spring and fall when temperatures are cool and conditions are moist.

Prevalence in Canada

The prevalence of ticks and Lyme disease in Canada is increasing.1 This is due to multiple factors including changes in climate, populations of mammals, and migratory birds,2,3 and there is a high level geographical variation across the country. 


Ticks can latch onto your dog when walking through tall grass or near shrubs. Ixodes ticks that carry Borrelia burgdorferi, can transfer the bacteria to animals or humans they bite. Your dog is at a higher risk of contracting the disease if the tick has been feeding on your dog for more than 24 hours.4


What are the signs of
canine Lyme disease?

Dogs may present with non-specific clinical signs such as fever, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. They may also have lameness and swollen joints, or kidney failure.5,6 Signs of Lyme disease may appear as late as 5 months after your dog has been bitten by an infected tick.1 The majority of dogs will not show clinical signs. Blood tests can be used to detect if your dog has been exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi.



Swollen lymph nodes


How can I protect my dog
against Lyme disease?

A comprehensive tick control protocol is recommended. "PAIR" UP and remember these steps:


Use an oral product that kills ticks fast. Look for a product with BROAD tick coverage because Ixodes ticks are not the only type of ticks that can transmit diseases to your pet. Ask your veterinarian about the latest Lyme vaccine technology for BROAD Lyme protection.



Cut grass, remove leaf litter and keep your dog away from high-risk areas



Check your pet and your family for ticks



Correctly remove ticks using a tick remover or fine pointed tweezers, and keep it for tick identification*

* Visit to learn more about Ixodes and other tick species, for useful information on how to remove a tick, and where to submit ticks for identification.

Breakthrough lyme
vaccine technology

The bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, responsible for Lyme disease, expresses a protein on its outer surface. When the bacteria is in the tick, the outer surface protein is known as OspA. As the tick feeds, the bacteria changes its outer surface protein to a protein called OspC, with varying subtypes.7 These subtypes help the bacteria to disguise itself from the dog’s immune system. Previous vaccine technology was not able to address this challenge.

Learn more about how Vanguard crLyme works

Assess your dog's risk

Take this assessment to better understand your dog's risk

1) Have you seen or heard of ticks on people or pets in your area?


Ticks can range in size and can be very difficult to detect in the fur of your pet.

Some life stages of ticks can be as small as a poppy seed.


2) Is your dog likely to go into areas where ticks are found?


Ticks wait for a passing host under leaf litter or on plant stems, leaf tips and blades of tall grass. They can occasionally be carried inside the house.


3) Do you live in an area with Ixodes ticks and/or where there are cases of Lyme disease in animals or humans?


The incidence of Lyme disease is increasing and its range is expanding throughout North America.


4) Are you likely to travel with your dog to areas where Lyme disease is present?


The risk for exposure to Lyme disease is highest in parts of southern and southeastern Quebec, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and much of southern British Columbia. Don’t forget to consider areas outside of Canada where you may travel.3


5) Have you ever forgotten to give tick medication on time?


Repellent products alone are unreliable to prevent Lyme disease. Oral products that kill Ixodes ticks fast may help prevent the transmission of Lyme disease. It is important to remember to give the product on a monthly basis. A complete approach that includes vaccination increases the likelihood of your dog being protected from the disease.


If you answered YES to any of these questions, Lyme vaccination for your dog may be recommended.

Share your dog's risk assessment with
your veterinarian. Download and fill out this pdf.


Key points about
Lyme disease:

1. Lyme disease can be transmitted by the Deer tick, also known as the Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the Western Blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) after being attached to your dog for 24-48 hours. There are many tick species endemic to Canada, and the prevalence of many species is increasing, but only these two species of tick can transmit the disease in North America.

2. Deer ticks can be found throughout the non-winter months, but they are most common in the spring and fall when the weather is cool and moist. Pet owners should avoid taking their dogs into tall grass and leaf litter, where ticks can attach.

3. The clinical signs of Lyme disease will only present themselves several months after infection, so it is important to routinely check dogs for ticks. Attached ticks should be correctly removed, and the engorged tick should be taken to their clinic to identify the species.

4. Prevention is key. A comprehensive protocol is recommended with a seasonal parasite prevention product and a Lyme disease vaccine.

Clinic tools

Downloadable clinic tools to facilitate conversations on Lyme disease

Lyme disease brochure for pet owners

(also available through your Zoetis Territory Manager)

Lyme disease poster

(also available through your Zoetis Territory Manager)

Vanguard crLyme MOA video

Facebook posts

Lone Star Louie – New Tick in Town Season 1

Lone Star Louie Season 2


1. Bouchard C et al. The increasing risk of Lyme disease in Canada. Can Vet J 2015 Jul; 56(7):693-699.

2. Rebecca J et al. Linkages of Weather and Climate With Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae), Enzootic Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi, and Lyme Disease in North America. J Med Ent 2016 March; 53(2):250–261.

 3. Herrin BH et al. Canine infection with Borrelia burgdorferiDirofilaria immitisAnaplasma spp. and Erlichia spp. In Canada, 2013-2014. Parasites & Vectors 2017;10:244.

4. Littman MP et al. ACVIM consensus update on Lyme borreliosis in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med 2018;00:1–17.

5. Littman MP et al. ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Lyme Disease in Dogs: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention. J Vet Intern Med 2006;20:422-434, 

6. Krupka I, Straubinger RK. Lyme borreliosis in dogs and cats: background, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infections with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Prac. 2010;40(6):1103–19.

7. Rhodes DV et al. Identification of Borrelia burgdorferi OspC genotypes in canine tissue following tick infestation: implications for Lyme disease vaccine and diagnostic assay design. Vet J 2013;198:412-18.

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