When it comes to the battle against Lyme disease, dogs are coming out ahead of their human counterparts. Should they be bitten by a tick, a vaccine has been created to prevent dogs from ever contracting the disease in the first place.
“The yearly Lyme disease vaccine for dogs is very effective and safe, with very minimal side effects,” said Dr. Doug Benner, veterinarian with Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic in Mechanicsburg, PA, who says it’s the best way to prevent Lyme disease in dogs. “Of course no vaccine is 100 percent effective, but every dog I’ve seen clinically for Lyme disease has been an unvaccinated dog.”
Dogs with Lyme disease who go untreated may have difficulty breathing, fever, decreased appetite, depression, sensitivity to touch, arched back and stiff walk, swollen lymph nodes, lameness in the legs, heart abnormalities, nervous system complications, and kidney failure (beginning with vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, swollen abdomen, increased thirst, and weight loss (PetMd.com).
“The fortunate thing is that they usually respond to treatment with antibiotics within several days,” Benner said. “If they don’t get better quickly, it’s a good sign that they don’t have Lyme disease; they have something else.”
Pet owners suspecting their dog has the illness can have them given advanced testing with a Lyme titer, which will show just how much of an antibody is present in the system. The more antibodies, the higher the chance of developing Lyme disease.
“I’m medically comfortable either way. The titer costs about $95 so it’s more cost-effective to treat prophylactically (preventatively), especially since we have a lot of Lyme disease in our area,” the doctor said.
Dog owners should monitor their dogs’ outdoor activity, and regularly inspect them for ticks. Preventative remedies should always be looked into to keep dogs healthy.