Lyme Disease – What You Need to know!
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. If an infected tick bites dogs or humans, Lyme disease can be transmitted.
When ticks are attached to a host and begin to feed they are known to transmit the disease. Ticks must be on the host for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease, so frequent inspection for ticks can help reduce the risk of transmission.
Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest United States.
A dog may be infected with Lyme disease several months before showing clinical signs IF they show any signs at all. Many dogs fail to show any symptoms but here are a few things to look for:
- Painful Joints/Limping
- Loss of appetite
Lyme disease has also been linked to long-term complications involving the joints,
kidneys, heart and nervous system.
Suspicious clinical signs, diagnostic testing and possibility of tick exposure can help diagnose Lyme disease.
Several tests can identify the organism in the blood or tissues. A Quantitative C6 Antibody test can help measure the amount of antibodies in the dogs system to see if treatment is necessary. Most veterinarians, including Herkimer Veterinary Associates, use a 4Dx SNAP test to diagnose Lyme disease.
SNAP tests are a quick, convenient blood test run in-house and we have results within 10 minutes. The SNAP test we use at Herkimer Veterinary Associates simultaneously tests for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis (2 other tick-borne diseases that can cause illness to dogs.) SNAP tests take a very small amount of blood and are very accurate in identifying if dogs have one or more of these diseases.
Additional bloodwork or testing may be followed to help obtain more information on your dog’s condition.
Why should dogs be tested for Lyme?
Tick-borne diseases pose a risk to many dogs in many different areas of the country and because clinical signs are not always present, yearly testing can diagnose if your dog has been infected. Even dogs that receive year-round flea/tick control products and may not spend a lot of time outside are still at risk for exposure. Testing can help determine if the flea/tick control products you’re using are effective and if your dog will need treatment for one of these infections.
Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease and most dogs show improvement in as little as 3-7 days after starting them. Most veterinarians, including those at Herkimer Veterinary Associates, recommend a 28-30 day course of treatment. Dogs can be re-infected and should be retested each year following to rule out new infections. Careful monitoring of possible symptoms is important as well.
Vaccines are available to help prevent Lyme Disease in dogs. An initial vaccine is given and then boostered in 2-4 weeks then repeated once yearly to keep them protected.
The Lyme vaccine is highly recommended in our area due to the high number of ticks and risk of Lyme disease.
There are currently no vaccines for the other tick-borne illnesses (ehrliciosis and anaplasmosis)
Appropriate flea/tick control is combined with vaccines to help further protect dogs from being infected. Also checked your dog daily for ticks can help.
Some other things to remember in order to be “tick savvy” is to avoid tall grass or wooded areas where ticks are likely to hide and well as asking your veterinarian which product is best for control in your area.
At Herkimer Veterinary Associates we recommend the following products for dogs:
- Seresto Collar
- Frontline Gold
- K9 Advantix
You can check out these and other products on our website. Just Click Here!