Dutch is an adorably handsome 9 year old weimaranor/american staffordshire terrier mixed breed who came in for a routine check up ! He is a great example of why we test dogs in south Florida once yearly for heartworm & tick related infections. Lyme disease is the #1 mispronounced disease of the summer (it’s Lyme, not Lymes disease, folks!). The Gram-negative spirochete (bacteria-like) organism that causes it, Borrelia burgdorferi, was originally discovered in Old Lyme, Connecticut in the mid-70s. Nowadays, over 95% of the cases of human Lyme disease come from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, & Wisconsin. Regardless of what state you live in, pay attention, as this disease can be devastating to your dog. Lyme disease, an infection that causes shifting-leg lameness, arthritis, joint swelling, fever, platelet abnormalities, & rare heart arrhythmias, is usually transmitted by the Ixodes deer tick (Ixodes scapularis or I. pacificus). In severe cases, it can cause protein loss through the kidneys (called protein-losing nephropathy or “PLN”), resulting in fatal kidney failure – this is particularly common in Golden Retrievers & Labradors. When in doubt, prevention is the key. Prevention includes flea and tick medication & even vaccination.
While tick-picking isn’t the most reliable way to stay Lyme free (as nymphs are as small as the point of a pencil), make sure to check your pet (and you!) carefully after a walk in the woods.