Lyme Disease: What does it mean for your pet?


Since we started routine screening for Lyme disease in our canine patients in 2007, every year we see between 8-12% of those screened come up positive for exposure to this disease.

 By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven
What does this mean exactly?
It means that of the dogs that we test, around 10% of those have had a tick on them that has transmitted the organism that causes the disease.  This organism is a small, bacteria-like spirochete that moves from an attached tick into a dog’s bloodstream and causes joint pain, fever, loss of appetite, and in extreme cases kidney failure.  Any human friend of yours that has had Lyme disease can attest to how horrible one feels when sick and how long it takes to rid the body of the organism and the symptoms that comes with the disease.


The bad news:  Lyme disease can be devastating to a dog.  It is prevalent in our country, and in the state of Indiana many dogs are at risk.  There are a lot of ticks out there that are carrying the disease and any attached tick can spread it to your dog.


The good news:  If we keep the ticks off the dog, we decrease the chance of Lyme disease transmission.  This is number one in protecting our pets.  Secondarily to this we also have a good vaccine available that can help to protect those dogs that may still get a tick attached even in the face of a tick repellent product.  Third, not all dogs that are exposed feel sick.  Often we detect the illness before it causes clinical signs with a simple blood test in the clinic.


Thankfully we have a number of excellent products on the market now that really do a nice job at killing and repelling ticks off of an animal.  There are so many options now that we can tailor your tick prevention choice to your lifestyle.  Does your dog like treats?  We now have a tick killer in chewable form that kills ticks for 4 weeks.  Do you have a busy lifestyle or a dog that is hard to treat?  We now have tick collars that last 8 months, virtually the whole season.  Prefer an easy application of liquid to your pup’s back?  We have several options available that are monthly treatments and often treat fleas and other insects as well.