Health Topics

Lyme Disease

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease, or Borreliosis, is a tick-borne bacterial disease affecting both humans and animals. First discovered in the United States in humans in 1975 and reported in dogs in 1984, Borreliosis has since spread rapidly across the country, affecting more victims every year. Lyme disease is caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi.

How is Lyme disease transmitted?

The carriers, or vectors, of Borrelia burgdorferi which cause the disease are ticks. Ticks are blood-suckers- parasites that draw their life from other creatures. When an infected tick bites, the bacterium is transferred to the blood of the host animal.

Where is Lyme disease found?

Lyme disease has the potential to exist in any area where Borrelia burgdoferi infected ticks are present. By 1982 the Centers for Disease Control had reported 497 cases of Lyme disease in the United States. In 1992 in Canada, 180 cases had been reported by 6 provinces.

Why is Lyme disease spreading so rapidly?

While no one knows for sure, there are several possible explanations. Studies have shown that waterfowl and other migratory birds, for instance, have helped disperse the infected tick. Dogs and wildlife that run in infected fields can bring infected ticks back to suburban locations and backyards. Dogs traveling with their owners can spread infected ticks to distant locations. Secluded wooded areas where people live or spend leisure time are the natural environments for ticks and the Lyme disease bacteria.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in pets?

Clinical signs of Lyme disease in pets include:

  • Arthritis
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Swollen joints

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

Simple blood test: Snap 4DX Test can detect four infections (Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Heartworm disease) in one blood sample in less than 10 minutes.

Other tests: Complete blood count, chemistry profile, urinalysis and other special tests, depending on initial findings and symptoms.

How is Lyme disease treated?

Several broad spectrum antibiotics have proven effective in treating Lyme disease, especially in its early stages. However, treatment is not always successful. Your veterinarian will have the most effective treatment program available.

What can I do to protect my pet from Lyme disease?

  • Routinely check your pets after they have been outdoors, especially if they have been in areas with tall grass and brush (the favorite hiding places of ticks).
  • Brush your dog after each outing. If a tick is attached to your dog's skin, remove it carefully with tweezers, pulling back steadily and slowly to ease out the tick's mouthparts. Wash the bite area and your hands.
  • Use of topicals and other veterinarian dispensed products.
  • Cut brush and mow the grass where your dog plays.
  • Ask your veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.

Is the vaccine effective?

The lyme vaccine for dogs was developed following years of stringent testing for both safety and effectiveness. While no vaccine is ever 100% effective, the canine Lyme vaccine has been shown to have a reasonable expectation of efficacy in well controlled laboratory studies.

In these studies, vaccinated dogs were protected from a direct intraperitoneal challenge of Borrelia burgdorferi. Unvaccinated dogs in these same studies developed disease symptoms similar to those seen in naturally infected animals.

Is the vaccine safe?

There is always slight risk of adverse responses with any vaccine your pet may receive. In laboratory and field safety studies, dogs vaccinated against Lyme disease did not suffer any serious adverse reactions.

Since its introduction, millions of doses of the vaccine have been sold. Reports to the manufacturer indicate this vaccine is as safe as other vaccines commonly given to pets.

Is my pet at risk from Lyme disease throughout the entire year?

The risk your pet faces varies by the season and region where you are located. Ticks are active and feeding until the temperature stays below 5 degrees Celsius. In most areas, people and pets are at a moderate to high exposure level from April - November. This risk will vary within regions.

Lyme disease, or Borreliosis, is a tick-borne disease that affects both humans and animals. Ticks are the most-common known vector of the disease.

Lyme disease is a devastating disease that can cause serious problems for your pet. In humans, Lyme disease problems have increased 16-fold since 1982 in the United States. It has been reported in 47 states and in 6 provinces in Canada. What's more, the incidence in dogs may be 6-10 times higher.

The ticks most often associated with the transmission of Lyme disease organism include:

  • The Deer tick (Ixodes dammini)
  • The Black-Legged tick (I. scapularis)
  • Western black-legged tick (I. pacificus)

Recent research has also shown that the American Dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) can be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi.