We diagnosed our first case in years of canine Lyme disease today off his annual heartworm/tick disease screening test during his routine semi-annual exam. While we see lots of tick-borne diseases in this area, we rarely see this one. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread through tick bites, and it can cause symptoms ranging from fever, anorexia, and lameness due to arthritis to sudden kidney failure in certain patients. Cats are sometimes found to show signs of immune response to lyme disease (they produce antibodies against it), but this disease in cats is poorly understood or may not exist. Immature ticks can pick up the Lyme bacteria when feeding on wild rodents, then later spread it to other animals like dogs as they mature. In North America, only a certain type of tick, the eastern and western black-legged tick, have been shown to spread Lyme disease. This infection is common in the northeastern, upper midwestern, and West Coast states. In these areas, infection rates in dogs vary widely, ranging from 6.5% to as high as 85.2%! Click here to check out an interactive map showing the prevalence of Lyme and other infectious diseases/parasites: http://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps

Treatment: a long course of doxycycline is generally prescribed, but this does not usually completely cure the patient of Lyme disease, just as in human patients.

Prevention: Strict tick control!! We recommend Preventic collars for most of our canine patients, and monthly Revolution for most of our feline patients. Avoiding tick-infested areas is also a good idea.

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