It’s time we became aware of a preventable, life threatening disease of our dogs. Lyme disease is transmitted by the Ixodes tick (black leg tick) which is very common in our area. The immature tick acquires the bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) from a carrier such as a mouse or bird, and becomes infected for life. Then when that same tick attaches to a dog (or rarely a cat, horse or human) and remains attached for a minimum of 18 hours, it can transmit the infection. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary from the common recurring lameness, to general signs of fever, decreased appetite, and depression. Rarely, life threatening kidney damage occurs, especially In Labs, Goldens and Bernese Mountain Dogs. To complicate the picture, pets may not show signs of illness for two to five months after being infected. This means, a tick that a dog acquired in the late summer might not cause symptoms until the winter! Prevention is the key to Lyme disease. Treatment does a great job of alleviating clinical signs but does not eliminate the infection, as the bacteria persist in the animal for life. The keys to prevention are superior tick prevention products and daily examination of your pet. Additionally there is a vaccine available which may help your pet avoid the disease. We are now offering Lyme testing in conjunction with our routine heartworm tests to help recognize this disease sooner. With this illness on the rise, it is time to address Lyme disease now. Let’s be prepared before tick season begins!
Lindsey N. Haile