Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, Borrelia burgdorferri, transmitted by deer ticks. Deer ticks are present in this region in highest numbers in the spring and fall, but can be present year round during a warm winter. Deer ticks are very small and are hard to detect on most pets. Transmission of Lyme disease generally requires over 48 hours of tick attachment, therefore using Simparica monthly, year round, is beneficial in preventing Lyme disease. Simparica impairs the ticks' ability to attach to the dog within hours! Dogs are very susceptible to Lyme disease, but cats appear to be largely resistant to it.
We recommend Lyme vaccination for dogs with any tick exposure. The vaccine that we use is a very effective, safe vaccine. The vaccine also protects the owner from contracting Lyme disease once it has been on the vaccinated dog! The vaccine is administered twice, 3 weeks apart, then annually. The vaccine cannot cause or exacerbate Lyme disease and is 95% effective. Side effects of the vaccine are similar to any other vaccine, but are rare. It is recommended that dogs with Lyme disease be vaccinated, as natural infection does not protect the pet from contracting a new version of Lyme disease again.
Clinical signs can vary from no symptoms (85% of dogs), to fever, swollen joints, lameness, or in worst case scenarios (especially Retrievers)- kidney disease. We recommend testing all exposed dogs annually. This test is performed in our clinic with 3 drops of blood, with results in 8 minutes. For animals that have already tested positive, we recommend a send-out test, called a C6 test- which gives us a numeric value, indicating if the infection is still present at a high enough level to need re-treatment. Treatment of Lyme disease involves a minimum of 28 days of an antibiotic. Most animals which are limping or sick feel better in 2-3 days. There is currently controversy over whether or not we ever get rid of Lyme disease, even with antibiotics.
In summary, Lyme disease is endemic in this area. We recommend practicing year round tick control (Simparica), Lyme vaccination, and periodic testing to keep your pet safe.