Lyme And Other Tick Diseases: Don’t Take Them Lightly!
By Brad Thayer
This article has been written to raise awareness of the ramifications of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the hope that those of you reading this can prevent your dog from falling ill, reduce vet expenses that can escalate to large sums, and in the worst case, the lasting heartache from the death of your dog.
My precious dog Lycos died from complications from Lyme last year. Since then I have researched articles and talked with dozens of people scattered around Long Island whose dogs as well as themselves have contracted tick-borne diseases.
- My dog gets Frontline, Advantix or other monthly tick application and is protected, so I don’t have to be concerned.
These chemicals are not 100% effective. My other dog ‘J’ tested positive for Lyme and he was on Advantix 2 at the time. Other dog owners I’ve spoken with have experienced the same scenario with other products, so DON’T ASSUME your dog is protected!
Some people with more naturalist viewpoints will not put these chemicals on their pets. But, unless your dog is allergic to these topical applications, which can happen, is it worth the risk to not use these? Please read on…
- I can find a Deer Tick on my dog, and If I do, just pull it off.
Deer ticks and other nymphs are about the size of a sesame seed. Other ticks such as the ‘Lone Star’ tick are just slightly larger. These are much smaller than the common American dog tick that swells up to a very detectable size by feel or sight. If you detect a tick, use thin tweezers right at the skin level, grabbing the head, not the body, and slowly pulling the head straight up. Pulling the tick off incorrectly can cause it to regurgitate infected fluid back into the bloodstream. Removing a tick within 24 hours will usually stop the risk of infection.
You are fooling yourself if you think you are thorough and diligent enough to find every tick! On a recent camping and beach trip, I found one tick on the first day and another on the second day. These two ticks were attached and dead. However, I found TWO more on my dog a few days later at home when one dropped off on the bed. The other was still attached. This was after many “thorough” checks. Those two engorged ticks were still alive 10 days later, crawling around a zip lock bag. The tick application did not kill them! In addition, two more were latched to my head--one was a Lone Star tick. Why? They are so damn small and go easily unnoticed.
- I don’t go anywhere where there are ticks.
Unfortunately, unless you live in a bubble or concrete jungle, they are everywhere. Deer aren’t the only carriers. Mice, other rodents, and birds also are carriers.
Just Google the words “Canine Lyme Disease” and you’ll see how prevalent the reported cases are for our area. Looking at the East coast, Long Island is shaded black! A noted rheumatologist agreed this is an epidemic.
- My older dog just has arthritis and is slowing down.
Besides what we consider or assume is old age in our pets, we can fail to recognize subtle changes like gradual weakness in the back legs or some lethargy.
Literature about Lyme always mentions the dog limping or a swollen joint. Symptoms can be far more subtle and dogs can be asymptomatic for years before they become ill.
Vets even miss this one by prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl or Adequine.
- Ticks can carry more than just Lyme disease. Add: -Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichia, Rocky mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis.
- A small percentage produce a rash or red ring around the site.
The Good News - If detected early and treated with Doxycycline, dogs and humans recover with no serious issues.
The Bad News - If undiagnosed, longer time exposure creates chronic arthritis, heart and kidney issues, blood disorders, neurological problems, and sometimes death. It has been called “The Great Imitator” because it masks many symptoms of other diseases and can be misdiagnosed.
WHAT CAN WE DO:
Vaccinate your dogs, although there is some controversy over this and future blood tests can be skewed.
Vets regularly test for Heartworm and inoculate for Distemper, Rabies, Parvo, Leptospirosis; but many don’t push for routine Lyme testing.
Ask your vet for a SNAP 4 Blood Test. It’s four tests in one-- Heartworm, Lyme, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. You’ll know the results during your visit.
IF your dog tests positive for one of these three tick-borne diseases, request a C 6 Antibody Test at the same time, which will establish a baseline level of your dog’s degree of infection. A one month course of Doxycycline usually is sufficient to deal with the problem.
MORAL OF THIS STORY… EARLY DETECTION. MAKE ANNUAL OR SEMI-ANNUAL BLOOD TESTS A ROUTINE PART OF YOUR DOG’S HEALTH CARE AS WELL AS YOUR OWN HEALTH.
THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL KNOW.