As a resident of Michigan we are starting to see ticks everywhere and a lot more deer. This year our clinic also made the transition from regular routing heartworm testing to vector born screening (4DX) which includes not only a heartworm test but also 3 tick test – Lymes, Anaplasma, & Ehrlichia and we are finding a high number of Lymes positive dogs.
What is Lyme’s Disease?
• Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that is spread by the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). The tick initially ingests the bacterium when feeding on wildlife or other dogs that are infected, & then spreads it to other animals when it bites to take its next blood meal.
• Dogs that are exposed to Lyme disease exhibit a variety of clinical signs ranging from none to death.Many dogs that test positive never develop clinical signs of the disease. When dogs do show signs of the disease, they are most commonly either signs of general malaise (fever, lethargy, depression) or lameness. Less commonly, Lyme disease can affect the kidneys and cause irreversible kidney failure and death.
• Lyme disease is initially diagnosed via the “4DX.” This test is an antibiody test so it indicates exposure.
Follow up test is a more specialized test called a “quantitative C6 antibody” test is sent out to the diagnostic lab. This test quantifies a specific antibody that is only made during active infection and
allows us to decide whether further treatment is required. Then often complete blood work & a urinalysis is performed to test kidney function & the blood system as well.
How do we PREVENT lymes disease?
There are two main strategies that we can employ: tick preventatives, and vaccination.
• Tick preventatives come in multiple formulations, and generally have the added benefit of killing not only ticks but fleas too. The products that we at Willoughby Veterinary Hospital generally recommend Bravecto (topical < 10 pounds, oral> 10 pounds), Credelio (oral), & Seresto (collar).
o Please keep in mind, NO tick prevention kills the tick instantly. The fastest tick killing prevention on the market currently is Credelio and that is a 8 hour kill! (Nexgard takes 24 hours and Frontline takes 48 hours)
▪ The written transmission for lymes disease to occur if a tick has not bitten another animal is 48 hours (this speed is shorter if the tick feed on another animal before biting your pet)• VACCINATION -The Lyme bacteria has “outer surface proteins” that change between the tick and the dog. It does dramatically reduce the chances of infection and can minimize the seriousness of the disease in most vaccinated dogs.
• In addition to the above, you can also help prevent Lyme disease by making small changes in your behavior. Avoiding wooded areas with excessive leaf litter or fields with tall grass will decrease tick exposure. Checking your dog closely for ticks after exposure to these areas is a great way to find ticks before they have a chance to bite. Keeping your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed and raking dead leaves will allow for more sun exposure and make your property less appealing to the ticks