Lyme Disease

What you need to know about Lyme disease and your pets

"New Protocol for Lyme Positive Animals"

Due to the rise in the number of ticks, and the corresponding increase in the incidence of Lyme and other tick born diseases, we are changing some of our protocols in regards to Lyme disease in dogs.

The first change is vaccinations.  Previously tick habitat was thought of as woodlands or fields of high grass or brush.  Today ticks are attaching to and traveling with birds.  Thus, ticks are now living in shrubbery in urban or suburban environments.  We now are advising all dog owners to consider a Lyme vaccination for their pet.

The second change involves testing and treating. We use the Idexx Snap test in our office to test for exposure to Lyme disease.  The snap test "does not" test for bacteria that cause Lyme Disease: it does however detect the antibodies that an animal produces in response to the Lyme bacteria.  In other words, it detects exposure to a Lyme positive tick, not actual clinical Lyme disease. Only 5% to 10% of dogs bitten by a Lyme positive tick actually develope Lyme disease. Previously we treated only the animals that exhibited a positive test and clinical symptoms of Lyme disease. Our logic was to avoid the use of antibiotics in the 90% to 95% class of dogs that did not have the disease.

Our experiences over the last two years have led us to re-evaluate this approach. Most dogs that develop Lyme disease display musculoskeletal pain or lameness that owners quickly notice. However, a small percentage will develop kidney disease. In these dogs irreversible kidney failure can and usually does occur before any outward symptoms are exhibited by the dogs for the owners to see. Even though the odds of this condition happening are low, there are so many dog-tick interactions each year that we are now seeing too many Lyme Nephropathy dogs annually. From a veterinary professional perspective. it is extremely frustrating to have to explain this to owners of affected dogs. Therefore, we are now recommending treating all the dogs that test positive for Lyme on the Snap test that is run in our office. It is still advisable to check a urine sample on all Snap positive dogs.

The last change is frequency of testing. Until now we have recommended the Snap test every other year. Now we recommend the Snap test annually: for dogs that have tested positive in the Snap test, we advise running a Lyme Multiplex test at Cornell. This test can differentiate a new or recent exposure from an old one.

Finally, the scientific community does not yet have all the answers regarding tick borne diseases. As new knowledge is gained we may make future changes in our protocols. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet(s), please do not hesitate to ask, and we wil try our best to discuss and address your concerns...



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