Nearly everyone has heard of Lyme Disease. It is a serious problem for people. But would it surprise you to know that dogs can also get Lyme Disease? And it is becoming an increasingly common condition throughout North Carolina. Why? The spread of ticks that carry the disease.
It may also surprise you to know that ticks are actually a year-round problem in North Carolina, but because we spend more time outside during Spring, Summer and Autumn, ticks are more likely to latch onto us and our dogs the more time we spend in nature.
Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria live inside of ticks, then is spread to dogs or people through a tick bite. The most common carrier of Lyme Disease is the Blacklegged Tick (also called a Deer Tick) which is widely present in the Eastern US and Upper Midwest. Ticks tend to thrive in tall grass or thick brushy areas as well as woods (especially where there are lots of fallen leaves).
The most common symptoms of Lyme Disease are typically the same symptoms as in people: Fever…loss of appetite…lameness / limping (often moving from one leg to another, rather than the same leg)…general sluggishness…discomfort, or pain. In more extreme situations, kidney failure may occur, which can be fatal. The disease may also affect the heart and the nervous system.
Lyme Disease can be diagnosed with a blood test. At Carolina Value Pet Care, we offer a Heartworm Test that also tests for Lyme Disease (as well as 2 other tick-related diseases: Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis).
While the disease can be treated, the effects of the disease may persist for several years … just as in people.
Interestingly, of those dogs that have the disease, in a large portion of cases, the pet parents never even knew their dog had a tick on them. Unlike fleas (which stay on the pets), ticks get on…bite to get a meal of blood…then fall off the animal.
But here’s some good news in dogs, we have a vaccine to protect against Lyme Disease.
Healthy dogs as young as 8 weeks old can be vaccinated. Initially, we give 2 vaccines 3 to 5 weeks apart, with annual re-vaccination. The vaccine has proven to be very safe and very effective for protecting your dog.
Knowing your dog’s outdoor habits, if she/he likes to go into tall grass or brushy areas (even in your own backyard), into the woods, or into swampy areas, I strongly encourage you to get the Lyme Disease vaccine. Prevention is always better (and far cheaper) than treatment.
Let us know if you have additional questions at Carolina Value Pet Care. Call us Mon-Fri 8am-5pm at 704.288.8620. Or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.