Lyme disease may currently be one of the most misdiagnosed diseases, some pet health experts say. And whether your pooch’s veterinarian agrees with that statement or not, chances are he or she would concur that this tick-transmitted disease can be harmful and even fatal for Fido.
“Lyme disease, an infection that causes shifting-leg lameness, arthritis, joint swelling, fever, platelet abnormalities, and rare heart arrhythmias, is usually transmitted by the Ixodes deer tick (Ixodes scapularis or I. pacificus),” writes Dr. Justine A. Lee, DVM, DACVECC, a veterinarian and contributing author for Pet Health Network.com. “In severe cases, it can cause protein loss through the kidneys (called protein-losing nephropathy or “PLN”), resulting in fatal kidney failure – this is particularly common in Golden Retrievers and Labradors.”
In a December 2014 article titled Your Dog and the Dangers of Lyme Disease Part 1 found at http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/your-dog-and-dangers-lyme-disease-part-i Lee reviewed some Lyme facts:
“Nowadays, over 95% of the cases of human Lyme disease come from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Regardless of what state you live in, pay attention, as this disease can be devastating to your dog,” Lee writes.
Ticks that carry Lyme thrive all year long and are found in many parts of the Northeastern US, including in Boston, Lowell, Springfield and Worcester, MA.
Prevention is the best way to ensure that your pup remains free of this debilitating disease. Lee recommends checking your pet (and yourself) routinely for ticks and especially following a walk in the woods.
“Check the inside thighs, the ears, and the trunk of the belly, where these tiny ticks like to hide… and then do it again the next day. If a tick bites your dog, the tick will be big enough to find by then. Remember, it takes about 24-48 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease, so you have a narrow window to find and pull those plump ticks off,” she writes. “Simply use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can and pull upwards with steady pressure. Do not twist or jerk while pulling as this may cause the head to break off, remaining in the skin.”
A Lyme vaccination is now available for dogs and Lee recommends administering it only to dogs living in the above-mentioned states where the disease is often diagnosed, (including Massachusetts!), to hunting dogs and to dogs who frequently hike with their owners.
Lee recommended forgoing the vaccine in favor of such preventative monthly treatments as Frontline and Advantix, etc., in conjunction with a prescription strength tick collar such as Preventic or Seresto, if you live in an area unpopulated by deer.
Next week’s installment from Lee will discuss the challenges associated with definitively diagnosing Lyme in pets.
Always consult your pet’s veterinarian if you suspect he or she has been bitten, or have any other questions or concerns on the matter.
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