We are diagnosing more Lyme disease than ever before. If you live anywhere in Lunenburg, Queens or Shelburne counties and spend time out with your dog, they are at risk for exposure.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to dogs by deer tick bites. As the tick begins to engorge, the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorfer, is transmitted to the dog’s bloodstream.
What are the signs of Lyme disease?
The most typical signs of Lyme disease are painful, swollen joints that can cause lameness, lack of appetite, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. Signs can appear 2-5 months after transmission. Some dogs can develop an often-fatal form of Lyme which affects the kidneys. Any dog testing positive for Lyme should be monitored for kidney degeneration on an ongoing basis through a simple urine test looking for excess protein levels.
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
Lyme prevention is a multilayered approach:
1. Environmental control of your property and where your dog spends its time is critical to reducing your dog’s exposure to Lyme disease. Removing tall grass and leaves from your property and using barriers between wooded areas and your yard with things such as mulch can help ticks from coming into your yard. Your dog should be checked daily for ticks and removed promptly when found.
2. Tick control products that prevent the attachment of ticks are the best for controlling the number of ticks getting on your dog. These are applied topically to dogs to prevent the tick from biting.
3. There is a vaccination that is available for Lyme disease. If your animal has been through a Lyme season (i.e., spring and/or fall), they should be tested for Lyme exposure before vaccination. Once known to be negative or treated if positive, an initial vaccine is given, then a booster is required 2-3 weeks later. After that, the vaccination is updated yearly at your dog’s annual Wellness Exam.
Is Lyme treatable?
Yes. Once Lyme has been diagnosed, your dog can be treated with antibiotics for 28 days. A second test is performed about 4 months after treatment to ensure the treatment was successful.
What about my cat?
Currently, Lyme disease is not a problem in cats. Humans, however, are also at risk for the disease. Daily tick checks on all members of the family (furry or not) can help prevent this.
If you have any questions or would like to arrange testing, vaccinations or determine which tick prevention is the best for your pet, please give us a call at 902.543.5602.