|Dr. Michelle Diener|
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by Borrelia bacteria that is transmitted to dogs and humans by ticks. Although Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeastern United States, we have seen a dramatic rise in Lyme disease in North Carolina in recent years. In the past year, we have identified 90 dogs in our hospital that have been exposed to or contracted the disease, a 47.5% increase from 2012.
Some dogs may have Lyme disease and show no symptoms while others may display shifting leg lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy, and sometimes a rash at the site of the tick bite. Symptoms can take weeks or months to develop.
Detection of Lyme Disease and Treatment
|Is your dog exhibiting symptoms of Lyme disease? It might be time to visit the vet.|
At Armadale Animal Hospital, the heartworm test we run annually on dogs also tests for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme.
In reference to Lyme disease, the test measures the levels of a specific antibody that is only produced when exposed to this disease. Based on the amount of antibody detected, the test can distinguish between dogs that have received the Lyme vaccine versus those that are truly infected.
The test can also tell us whether the dog has an acute infection or a chronic infection. Treatment for Lyme disease is 4 weeks of antibiotics.
The first line of defense is to protect your pets from ticks. Armadale Animal Hospital offers several different flea/tick prevention products:
- Parastar Plus is a waterproof topical flea/tick prevention formulated for dogs only. This product needs to be applied on the back of the neck directly to the skin once monthly. It is fast-acting and lasts for 30 days.
- We also have a new product called Bravecto, which is a flea and tick prevention that is to be given to dogs by mouth and lasts for 3 months. This product starts to kill fleas and ticks within 2 hours and by 12 hours all fleas and ticks are dead.
- We also sell Scalibor collars for dogs that are adjustable and water resistant. These bands kill fleas and ticks for 6 months.
- For outside cats, we recommend Frontline Plus for Cats (a waterproof topical with no toxic pyrethrins). It is important in our state to administer flea, tick, and heartworm prevention to our pets year-round as it does not get cold enough in the winter months to kill off the flea, tick, and mosquito populations.
For the past 3 decades, Lyme disease has been radiating outward from New England, and now the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled Wake County as endemic for Lyme disease. Due to the new prevalence of Lyme in our area, we continue to recommend year-round flea/tick prevention and also vaccinating dogs against the disease.
Armadale Aniimal Hospital offers the Lyme vaccination for dogs. The vaccine can be given to dogs as young as 9 weeks of age and involves a series of 2 vaccinations 3 weeks apart. After the initial vaccine series, a booster vaccine is needed annually to maintain protection against Lyme disease.
If you have questions or would like to check your dog's Lyme vaccination status, please call us at (919) 847-1972.
Dr. Michelle Diener is an associate veterinarian at Armadale Animal Hospital. She is a graduate of Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.