Lyme Disease Alert!
There are many local medical issues that can affect your pet. One of these is Lyme disease. For the past several years at our hospital, we have averaged 100 Lyme-positive dogs annually. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi. This organism is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. It was first identified in humans in 1975 and in dogs in 1984, and the disease has been reported in every part of the United States, but is more common in certain areas. In this country, more than 90% of Lyme disease cases occur in the Northeast and in the North Central states.
The most likely time to be bitten by an infected tick in the USA is April through November, but ticks can remain active throughout the winter if temperatures are mild. At least three species of ticks are known to transmit Lyme disease; however, the great majority of transmissions are due to the bite of an extremely small (poppy-seed-sized) tick called the deer tick or black-legged tick.
The most common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is a reccurring lameness that may shift from leg to leg. Many of the sick dogs are depressed, run fevers, and have a decreased appetite. It is important to realize that some Lyme-positive dogs are mildly affected and symptoms may go unnoticed.
When we suspect a sick dog might have Lyme disease, we can run a diagnostic blood test in the office. If the test is positive, a 30-day course of antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the pet.
Lyme disease prevention is very important. Check your pet and yourself daily for ticks and remove them. For you or your pet to contract Lyme disease, the tick must stay attached one or two days. Simpleguard 3 and Frontline Plus applied monthly is a great way to keep ticks (and fleas) off of your dogs. For dogs, the Preventic Collar is also an excellent repellant to ticks, and can be used in combination with Simpleguard 3 and Frontline Plus. The Lyme vaccine is also recommended for dogs who are in areas with a high tick infestation.