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A New Approach to Lyme Disease
Due to a growing a growing concern about Lyme disease in our area, we are now recommending a yearly test that screens for both canine heartworm disease and exposure to Lyme disease.
Q: WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF MY DOG IS POSITIVE FOR LYME EXPOSURE?
A: A positive test means that at least your dog has had exposure to the organism (a type of bacteria) that causes Lyme disease. It shows that your dog has developed antibodies in reaction to the bacteria (just as your body does to the many viruses and bacteria it is exposed to every day). Over 90% of dogs that test positive will never get sick. If illness is seen, it usually manifests as fever, joint pain (lameness), and lethargy. Dogs that show these symptoms will usually improve within 24 - 48 hours of starting antibiotics.
Many veterinary experts feel that we should treat dogs that test positive with Lyme disease, even if they are asymptomatic. The idea is that if we can lower the amount of the bacteria in the blood stream, there may be less of a chance for problems to appear later on (such as Lyme nephritis - see below). For these dogs we will recommend 4 weeks of antibiotics.
Also, for dogs that test positive for exposure but have no symptoms, we will ask you to submit a urine sample. The Lyme bacteria can cause kidney disease (called Lyme nephritis) in a small percentage of dogs. This is a more serious manifestation of Lyme disease - and one that is more difficult to treat successfully. It is believed that if detected early enough we may have more success in managing Lyme nephritis. The urine sample will be tested for increased levels of protein, and if present, further testing will be discussed with you.
TICK CONTROL AND LYME VACCINATION
Since Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick bite, we feel that one of the best means of protection against Lyme disease is tick control. A newer development is vaccination of your pet. Check your dog for ticks at the end of every day and use topical flea/tick products such as Frontline Plus or Vectra 3D monthly from March through November. Also, after many years of research and development there is a vaccination that the doctors at HVA believe is safe and effective for your dog. These measures will greatly reduce your dog's risk of developing Lyme disease. Feel free to ask if you have any questions or concerns. These changes are ways that can help accomplish our goal of helping you maintain the health and well-being of your pet.