Lyme Disease & Ticks
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) which is carried by deer ticks and transmitted from the infected tick to the dog within 24-48 hours after tick attachment and feeding. Lyme disease is common in dogs and rare in cats. In the United States the highest areas of prevalence are the Northeastern states, followed by the upper Mississippi River areas, California, and a few Southern states. Clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs are generally characterized by acute lameness (which may be intermittent or shifting leg in nature), loss of appetite, depression, and fever. Rarely severe illnesses involving the heart, kidneys, or neurologic systems can occur.
When a dog tests positive for Lyme disease exposure we will discuss with you the clinical signs and treatment options. If the patient has any clinical signs of disease or this is the first time he or she has tested positive we will recommend treating with an antibiotic (doxycycline) for several weeks. If your dog is not clinically ill at the time of the diagnosis of Lyme exposure and is not currently vaccinated for Lyme disease we may also recommend this along with tick prevention (such as Frontline) for all pets.
Once your dog has tested positive for Lyme disease, he or she will continue to test positive even after antibiotic therapy for several years. Therefore, if this is the second or third positive test we will discuss with you whether or not we should treat with doxycycline on a case by case basis.