Lyme Disease in Dogs- Becoming A Serious Problem in NC
Tick-tock, Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Or with Spring fast approaching in Cabarrus County, it may be more appropriate to say Tick-tick, Tick-tick, Tick-tick. That certainly conjures up a bad visual!
Historically, tick transmitted disease in our area has been most often limited to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). In fact for years, Cabarrus and Rowan Counties led the nation in human cases. RMSF is a disease that can affect dogs, but is difficult to diagnose. In recent years other tick transmitted diseases have begun to show up in Cabarrus County: Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Within the last 12 months, we at Foster Animal Hospital and Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons have begun screening for Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma on our routine annual lab panels. The results have been eye opening. (Unfortunately, this test is not yet available for RMSF)
According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council or CAPC ( https://www.capcvet.org/ ), all three are on the rise in North Carolina. Lyme Disease in particular is one we are watching closely. Lyme has been a real nightmare for residents and pets in the northeast US for years. With the transient nature of people, especially those that travel with their pets, the incidence is moving southward. CAPC’s incidence map shows 51 of the 100 counties in NC, Cabarrus County included, rate as moderate for the prevalence of Lyme positive dogs in those counties. (https://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/) Mind you, that is just the dogs that are tested. Many thousands of dogs in this state go untested every year.
Clinical signs in dogs can range from fever, lethargy, lameness, intermittent and/or shifting leg lameness, stiffness, pain, and loss of appetite. Many dogs do not show signs for quite some time. Many will respond well to antibiotics, others do not.
Fortunately, there are vaccines available to help prevent Lyme infection. We use the latest product that has the ability to eliminate the infection at the tick-bite site, as well as, internally. (https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/vanguard-crlyme/) Many vaccines only protect at the bite site and are not as effective. This technology for this new vaccine is being researched for possible use in humans. What a breakthrough that would be!
I personally have vaccinated my 3 dogs for Lyme. None of them experienced any vaccine reaction, and now I can rest easy knowing they are protected against Lyme Disease. I still use tick preventatives for them even though I rarely see a tick on them. That is because RMSF, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma exist in NC too. Many dogs that test positive for Lyme or the other tick related disease have no tick history. (many people too report they never had a tick when they were diagnosed) The best 3 products we recommend are Vectra 3-D, a monthly topical, Bravecto, an oral chew that lasts 3 months and Simparica a monthly chewable that has great efficacy and is available on Vetsource, our online pharmacy. Vectra 3-D and Bravecto are available at both of our locations.
By vaccinating my dogs and using an effective and safe tick preventative, I have greatly reduced the potential for any tick related disease for my dogs, myself, and my family. After all, our dogs are constant companions in our house and even sleep in our bed! I don’t want ticks in my bed or on me!
So please don’t hesitate to contact me or our offices for additional information or questions. We can schedule an appointment to give the Lyme vaccines if you wish. The initial series calls for 2 vaccines given 2-4 weeks apart. If your dog has been previously vaccinated with another type of vaccine, we still recommend the initial 2 vaccine protocol to assure better protection because of the new technology.
All the best,
Stephen E Foster, DVM, CCRT
Foster Animal Hospital, P.A.
Foster Animal Clinic at Parkway Commons
Paws In Motion Canine Rehabilitation Center
730 Concord Parkway North
Concord, NC 28027