April is “Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs” month, and this topic is especially relevant here in Minnesota where we see high levels of tick activity and Lyme disease.
Causes of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease is caused by a species of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria are transmitted when an infected tick takes a blood meal from a dog. While spring through fall months have the highest tick activity and therefore the highest risk of transmission, we can see ticks active in the winter as well, especially when there are stretches of mild weather.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease has several clinical manifestations in dogs ranging from asymptomatic carriers to serious and potentially fatal kidney disease. The most common presentation is a dog with a history of lameness, fever, and a decreased appetite. Though a “bullseye rash” is common in people with Lyme disease, this is not seen in dogs.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs
While most Lyme-associated conditions can be treated with antibiotics, prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe. Ensure your dog is consistently on flea and tick prevention. We have several options and can discuss which medication is best for you and your dog. Remove ticks promptly when seen. Transmission of the bacteria takes 24-48 hours after a tick has attached itself. However, many of the ticks are very small and easy to miss. The use of consistent flea and tick prevention, while not a 100% guarantee, is paramount in the protection of your dog. Consider utilizing the Lyme vaccine, especially if your dog spends time up north or along the Wisconsin border. This vaccine is a yearly vaccine that is not considered a core vaccine, but many dog owners in Lyme endemic regions such as Minnesota do choose to vaccinate their dogs for additional protection against the disease. Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions on keeping your dog safe from Lyme disease or if you need to schedule an appointment to update preventive care. If you are concerned that your dog may be showing symptoms of Lyme disease, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. We offer many same-day or next-day appointments.
Additional Information on Lyme Disease in Dogs
For additional information on Lyme disease in dogs: