What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi) that may develop when an animal or person is bitten by an infected tick. This bacteria in Canada is almost exclusively transmitted by Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus, the eastern and western black-legged ticks (aka Deer ticks). Carrier ticks transmit the bacteria into the host’s bloodstream while feeding, it takes 24–48 hours (or more) for the bacteria to be transmitted to the host – you or your pet.
Already in 2020 at least 25 dogs tested positive for Lyme disease here in Ontario and the number is only expected to go up as the warmer weather hits and more ticks are out moving around. Last year there was 799 reported positive cases in Ontario – which doesn’t sound like much but that only covers the clinics that report their findings and not all animals are tested. We suspect more cases exist, but have not been reported as the dogs have not been tested.
What are the symptoms of a dog with Lyme disease?
It can cause a wide range of problems, and luckily most dogs that are exposed to the bacteria never get sick.
When disease does occur in a dog, it typically happens a few months after being infected via a tick bite. Fever, lameness, stiffness and swollen joints are common in dogs with Lyme disease. Enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy and decreased appetite may also develop. Not all dogs who have these symptoms have Lyme disease though! That is why the annual blood test is so important as well as discussing any mobility changes with the doctor at your annual checkup.
My dog tested positive for Lyme disease on the screening test. What do I do?
Our annual heartworm and tick disease screening test checks for Lyme disease as well as 4 other tick borne diseases and heartworm. When we receive a Lyme positive result, our doctor will discuss next steps with you.
Typically we do a second blood test that isolates and calculates the active B. burgdorferi antibodies in your pet’s system. Then based on a number of corresponding factors, together with the doctor you make a treatment plan that works best for your dog’s individual needs.
How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?
Here at IVS, we use a multi-prong approach to prevention. We vaccinate as well as prescribe treatment and control medication during the tick’s active times of the year. We have many different brands and types of prevention medications that can be given depending on your lifestyle.
Give us a call to order your pet’s prevention. We will be sending out our annual e-mail blast about the testing soon, so if we don’t already have your e-mail give us a call so you can get on the list!