Caring for dogs involves more than just feeding and walking them. Protecting dogs from potentially debilitating Lyme disease is crucial for their health and happiness. While many people take precautions against ticks and Lyme disease for themselves, it’s not uncommon for man’s best friend to be overlooked.
Lyme Disease and How To Prevent This Summer
To educate dog owners about canine Lyme disease, Merial and the Lyme Disease Foundation have partnered to promote April as Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month. Spring is the start of tick season in most areas, but concerns about Lyme disease last all spring and summer as pets spend more time outdoors.
The number of cases of Lyme disease has increased more than 50-fold since 1982. Lyme disease has been found to be most common in certain areas of the United States, including the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest regions, plus northern California and Oregon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease has been found in humans in 49 states.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted by the deer tick. Clinical signs of the disease in canines include: shifting leg lameness, fever, swollen joints, muscle soreness, malaise, chronic arthritis, facial paralysis, seizures and acute renal failure.
Lyme Disease According to the CDC:
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and rarely, Borrelia mayonii. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
“Taking preventive measures against Lyme disease can spare dogs from the disease’s horrible symptoms,” says Richard Ford, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVPM (hon), College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. “In addition to regularly checking dogs for ticks, pet owners should know how to prevent Lyme disease.”
RECOMBITEK® Lyme vaccine protects dogs from Lyme disease and should be used in conjunction with FRONTLINE® brand product. The two work together to help ensure that animals are safe from ticks and Lyme disease. Both products, made by Merial, are available from your local veterinarian.