This is a condition that has been around for more than a century, but has become very well-known over the past ten years. It is a disease that can affect both humans and canines, but acts very differently in us and our four legged friends.
In dogs, Lyme disease does not begin to show symptoms for weeks to months after infection, and the main sign that we see is arthritis. There is occasionally a fever also. With dogs, heart and neurological issues are extremely rare. The most serious long term potential in dogs is kidney damage which is seen when the immune system is over stimulated dealing with a long term infection of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is passed to dogs mainly through the Deer Tick. This is a type of tick that is found in Nova Scotia. The tick attaches to the animal and passes the Lyme bug while feeding. The process of passing Lyme to an animal takes 48 hours, therefore if ticks are found and removed within this time, Lyme will be prevented. There are several products that kill ticks or force them to drop off your animal within this 48 hour period, please discuss these with your veterinary team.
The detection of Lyme disease can occur within 3-6 weeks after infection. It is a blood test that is performed at the veterinary clinic to determine if your dog is carrying Lyme antibodies. An animal that is found to be Lyme positive and showing symptoms of disease will be treated with medication. Symptoms of canine Lyme disease usually respond rapidly to a course of proper antibiotics, unless serious kidney disease is caused in which case further treatment is needed.
This is a relatively new concern for animals in our area, but is a disease for which positive cases are being found every year in Nova Scotia. If you have concerns about tick control or Lyme disease in your animals please do not hesitate to discuss this matter with your veterinarian.