Lyme disease is a common infectious disease in the Northeast. It is endemic in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Lyme is a bacterial disease ( Borrelia burgdorferi) transmitted through the bite of the deer tick ( Ixodes scapularis ). Hosts for this tick include mice and deer.

The disease has a different presentation in dogs than it does in humans. Many people are surprised to learn that dogs do not develop the classic “bullseye” rash on the skin that is seen in humans. Dogs can be infected and show no clinical signs (symptoms) at all, or they can develop severe illness. Signs can include loss of appetite, arthritis/limping, lethargy/loss of energy, and fever. Sometimes, dogs can even go into kidney failure from the infection. This is more common in certain breeds, like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. Since the disease is so common in this area, testing is recommended once yearly.

Tri-State Vet has a blood test that can be run during your appointment, and results are available within 10 minutes. If your dog tests positive for Lyme disease, additional lab work may be recommended, for example blood work, urine testing, and/or antibody titers. This can help determine whether the infection is causing problems with your dog’s internal organs, and whether treatment is needed. Treatment consists of a course of antibiotics, and sometimes additional supportive care depending on the severity.

The most important step in preventing Lyme disease is using tick preventive year-round. Tri-State Vet has many tick preventives available, including topical products like Frontline Gold, Vectra, and Activyl, as well as chewable preventives like Nexgard and Credelio. Talk to your veterinarian to determine which preventive is best for your pet. You can request a free sample of the monthly chewable Nexgard at your visit. Vaccinations are also available for preventing Lyme disease. The initial vaccine is given as an injection under the skin, followed by a booster 3-4 weeks later. After that point, the vaccine is repeated annually. Your veterinarian will be happy to talk to you about any questions or concerns about this common disease.