Even though our temperature is up and down through the winter, here in Nova Scotia we need to be worried about ticks every month of the year.
Knowing that dogs spend time in the same area that their humans spend time, and that Lyme disease is increasing every year, we want to remind everyone that we can do testing for this condition at any time in our hospital with a simple blood test called a 4Dx SNAP Test.
The 4Dx tests for 4 different illnesses; Heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma.
Heartworm disease has been found in dogs in all 50 of the United States. While heartworm is both treatable and preventable, it is a serious and deadly disease that may show no clinical signs in its early stage. Screen annually to find even low worm-burden patients sooner and more often, and begin treatment when you can do the most good.
The SNAP 4Dx Test identifies antibodies that are produced only as a result of a Borrelia burgdorferi infection (transmitted through ticks). The most common symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, swollen or painful joints, and enlarged lymph nodes. A less common but very severe complication of Lyme disease is kidney damage, known as Lyme nephritis. The kidney failure is acute and progressive and sometimes fatal.
Ehrlichia are a type of bacteria that infect and live within the white blood cells of their hosts. Different types of Ehrlichia live in different types of white blood cells. Hosts can be human, pet, or wild animals. Ehrlichia are spread from host to host by tick bites and their intracellular location makes them difficult to remove as most antibiotics do not penetrate to the inside of cells.
Anaplasmosis is a disease of dogs and rarely of cats caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum. The disease is transmitted to dogs and cats by a tick bite. As with some other tick-borne diseases, a tick must remain attached to the pet for more than 24 hours for the infection to be transferred. Anaplasmosis organisms enter the bloodstream and live in the animal’s white blood cells, which normally aid in fighting infections. This invasion of circulating white blood cells creates inflammation throughout the body. Signs can include poor appetite and fever. Joints are commonly affected, making the pet seem stiff or painful or appear to have trouble walking. Sometimes pets may have signs associated with bleeding as well. A bloody nose, dark bloody stool, or bruising may be seen. Not all pets will have symptoms, though. Some pets will only appear sick for a short time, then start to improve. We don’t fully understand why this happens, but it may be associated with a pet’s ability to fight off the infection.
We recommend testing your pet annually to help prevent the spread of heartworm disease, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis while increasing awareness of these vector-transmitted infections.
Detecting these tick-borne illnesses early means we can treat them early, and with much better success.
We have included links below, which go into further detail about all of these illnesses. If you would like further information, or would like to book an appointment to have your pet tested, please speak with your veterinarian or call us at (902) 465-1213.