Do you take your dog on walks, camping or to the park? Does your dog like to jog, hunt or go on family picnics? Or, is your dog like most and just has to be everywhere you are? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to know that your dog is at risk of being exposed to Lyme disease.
First discovered in the United States in humans in 1975, and in dogs in 1984, Lyme disease has spread rapidly across the country, affecting more victims each year. Being reported in 47 states, lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdoferi and is a devastating disease that can cause permanent problems for your dog. Signs of Lyme disease in dogs include arthritis, lameness, anorexia, weight loss, lack of energy, depression and severe fever. The route of infection is via the bite of an infected tick. Since ticks are common in the spring and summer, especially in wooded areas and tall grasses, it is important to be aware of Lyme disease and its symptoms. If your dog does show some of the above mentioned symptoms of Lyme disease, contact our office.
There are blood tests to detect the presence of Lyme disease, but unfortunately these tests are usually inconclusive so diagnosis is based on ruling out other causes of what is making your dog sick. Treatment requires the use of antibiotics daily for at least 30-60 days, however not all of the arthritic changes in the joints can be reversed. For this reason, if your dog is at risk of being exposed to ticks, a vaccination to help prevent Lyme disease is available.
In addition to the vaccination, routinely checking your dog after they have been outdoors for ticks is important. Brush your dog after each outing. If a tick is attached to your dog’s skin, remove it carefully with tweezers, pulling back steadily and slowly to ease out the ticks mouth parts. Wash the bite area and your hands. Also, it will be helpful if you cut the brush and mow the grass where your dog plays. The best prevention is year round tick medicine such as Advantix, Frontline Tritak or the a Seresto® collar.
Remember, dogs of any age are susceptible to Lyme disease if exposed to an infected tick. Like the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is true for Lyme disease. By taking some of the precautions mentioned in this article, you will be able to prevent unnecessary pain for your pooch. After all, they are part of the family.
If you would like to have your pet protected against Lyme disease it will require a two shot series initially and an annual booster. The initial series can be done at any time but it is recommended you have the annual booster done in early spring to insure the maximum immunity during the tick season.