This newsletter is intended to inform you of the serious health risks to your dog from Lyme Disease. The number of Lyme infected dogs increases each year but there are measure you can take to protect your faithful companion.
WHAT CAUSES LYME DISEASE AND HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew shaped bacterium (a spirochete) called Borreliaburgdorferi and is spread to animals and people by the white-tailed deer tick known as Ixodesscapularis. Infected ticks have migrated north from the United States and now Lyme disease is prevalent in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.The Public Health Agency of Canada considers the areas of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park and the 1000 Island Parkway from Gananoque to Mallorytown a “zone of risk for Lyme disease”.Lyme infected ticks began reaching Kemptville and the surrounding areas in 2007.Since that time hundreds of dogs have tested positive for the Lyme infection in Ottawa and Leeds and Grenville combined.The Grenville-Dundas Veterinary Clinic alone diagnoses 20 to 25 Lyme positive cases every season.
The Ixodes ticks are being transported
across the US-Canadian border by many species of animals including deer,
racoons, foxes, chipmunks and other rodents but especially by migratory
birds.Dogs acquire ticks in their coat
after adult ticks fall off host animals into the environment.The ticks then climb up vegetation such as
blades of grass and attach themselves to dogs as they walk by or sniff the
ground. Infection with the Borrelia organism occurs approximately 48 hours
after the female tick bites the dog and begins to take a blood meal.Clinical disease may develop 2-6 months
disease is very common in dogs and rare in other species of animals.Young dogs are more susceptible to disease
than older dogs. Not all infected dogs will show signs of illness, however
those that do most commonly suffer from acute arthritis characterized by hot,
swollen and painful joints.One or more
joints may be involved.In many cases
fever, loss of appetite and lethargy will accompany the lameness. Some dogs may
develop heart disease and central nervous system signs characterized by
seizures.In addition, a less common
form of the disease can cause acute kidney failure and death.Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers
appear to be more susceptible to this more fatal version of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is now
considered to be 4 times more prevalent than Heartworm Disease.
DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Prompt diagnosis and treatment is essential in preventing degeneration of joints and permanent damage to soft tissues such as the heart and nervous system. Regrettably most dogs with Lyme disease affecting the kidneys do not survive.The disease is diagnosed by clinical signs, history of exposure to ticks or, residing in or traveling to an endemic area and by blood tests to detectantibodies to the Borrelia organism.Aggressive treatment with antibiotics is imperative to a dog’s recovery from disease.Hospitalization to administer intravenous fluids and other drugs may be necessary as well.Not all infected dogs will develop clinical symptoms, however those that do need to be treated immediately.
Preventing infection is the key to maintaining your pet’s optimum health. To achieve this, avoid known tick infested areas and use products for tick control on dogs such as sprays, oral medications (Bravecto or NexGard) or spot-on solutions (K9 Advantix/Bravecto). These extremely potent and safe products are only available through veterinarians. Also, brush your dog after a walk and promptly remove any ticks that are found.In addition, vaccinate your dog against the Lyme disease infection.
Safe and effective Lyme vaccines are currently available for dogs.Following the initial inoculation, a booster vaccine is required 2-4 weeks later.The duration of immunity is 12 months so annual vaccination is necessary to provide continuous, uninterrupted protection against infection.
Prior to receiving their first set of Lyme vaccinations, all adultdogs require a Lyme disease blood test just before or at the time of immunization. This in-house Lyme test, called the Snap 4DxTest, also concurrently checks for infections by Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis, two other tick-borne diseases as well as for the heartworm infection, transmitted by mosquitoes.A positive test indicates infection and these dogs may need to be treated with antibiotics for 4 or more weeks.Puppies do not require a blood test if vaccinated before 6 months of age unless a tick has been found on them before their Lyme shots have been completed. It is strongly advised that all young adult and senior dogs be tested yearly thereafter.
Regardless of a dog’s vaccination status, any dog who has had a tick removed from its skin should have a blood test (Snap 4Dx Test) done 8 to 10 weeks after tick removal.
Because Lyme disease causes serious illnesses in dogs, we recommend that all dog owners take a pro-active approach to Lyme Disease prevention by having their pet vaccinated every yearand by using tick control products throughout the spring, summer and fall months when the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius (March through November).All dogs should also have the Snap 4Dx Test as part of their annual wellness exam.
For more information or to schedule an appointment please call our office at 613-258-2394.
Good news for our feline friends: Bravecto is now available for cats. The topical formula provides safe and effective tick control for 8 weeks and kills fleas for 12 weeks. Just part the hair and apply it to the skin on the back of your cat's neck. It's that easy!