Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is spread by Ticks, primarily deer ticks. The actual transfer of the bacteria usually occurs 12 to 24 hours after the tick has attached to the dog. Often, but not always, there is a “target lesion” (a circular target shaped red discoloration of the skin) where the tick was attached.
The most common sign of Lyme disease is lameness / arthritic type pain that may affect more than one area of the dog’s body. Other signs include recurring fever / lethargy, and kidney failure.
Lyme disease also affects people. It is spread to people through tick bites; people do not get Lyme disease directly from a Lyme infected dog.
Last year All Pets started testing for Lyme disease. With a few drops of blood the test checks for Heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and two other diseases that are spread by ticks (Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis). So it is much more thorough than the old heartworm tests.
We found more Lyme positive dogs than Heartworm positive dogs last year, and that trend has continued this year. Also, although many of the Lyme positive dogs that we found were hunting type dogs, a surprising number were house dogs whose only potential exposure to ticks was their lawn.
We view Lyme disease prevention as having two layers.
The first layer is using a tick preventative that kills any tick that gets on the dog. We recommend Frontline for this, or in specific situations Advantix. Some of our clients have been pulling hundreds of ticks from their dogs so those geographical areas must be loaded, and in those cases we may chose to administer the Frontline twice monthly.
The discount store brands are less expensive and less effective.
The second layer of prevention is Lyme vaccine. This is a good vaccine that we recommend for any dog that has tick exposure. Initially, Lyme vaccine is given twice (2-3 weeks apart) and then annually.
Treatment for Lyme disease involved giving an antibiotic. Treatment is much more effective when done before the dog gets sick from Lyme disease, which is a big reason for testing.
If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to let us know!