Human and canine friends alike, with May just around the corner, we will soon recognize Lyme Disease Prevention Month and in line with our constant mission to prioritize your pets’ health and wellness, we’re sharing tips for preventing Lyme Disease in your dogs.
Lyme disease – or Lyme borreliosis – is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted to humans, dogs, and other animals via ticks. It is caused by the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that is carried inside a tick and gets into a dog or person’s bloodstream through a tick bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to different parts of the body and cause problems in specific organs or locations, such as joints, as well as overall illness.
The Threats and Dangers
First named when a number of cases occurred in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975, the disease can be hard to detect and can cause serious, ongoing health problems in both dogs and people. The American Kennel Club identified some symptoms of lyme disease to include: fever, lameness, limping, joint pain/swelling, enlargement of lymph nodes, and lethargy. Lyme disease can also progress to kidney disease, which can become fatal. Unlike Lyme in humans, it is believed that dogs will NOT develop a “bull’s eye” rash when bit by a tick with Lyme Disease.
Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing Lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.
The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called “C6”. Presence of the antibodies suggests an active Lyme infection. The C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after an infected tick bites a dog and may be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.
The next step is to do a Quant C6 test. This, along with urinalysis will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.
Tick Activity Predictions
One amazing resource I recently discovered is the 2021 Tick Forecast tool. For 2021, forecasters predict that the warm-weather months in the US will be a bad time for anyone who wants to avoid ticks, with tick populations likely to be larger than usual, and weather conditions likely to put ticks in range of people for much longer than average. And while some regions, most notably the Southeast, may not see more tick activity than usual, most states will experience the warmer, wetter conditions that drive tick populations—and the prospect of tick-borne diseases—skyward. Certain geographic areas should prepare for higher-than-usual tick populations, namely the northeast, midwest, and southwest.