Musings on Lyme Disease

“Summer may seem like a carefree time of year, but it’s also when our offices see the biggest spike in cases of Lyme disease in dogs.”

Summer may seem like a carefree time of year, but it’s also when our offices see the biggest spike in cases of Lyme disease in dogs. More time spent outdoors enjoying the warm weather means a greater likelihood that your pet could be exposed to ticks and therefore a greater risk of acquiring Lyme disease. Being proactive when it comes to protecting your pet’s health is the most effective way to keep your furry friend safe.

Lyme Disease is caused by an organism transmitted by a tick. Ticks look for a host they can feed on, and are often found in tall grass or heavily wooded areas. Ticks come into your environment through a host such as a mouse, bird, or deer. Parasitologists say when you see a single deer in a field – that’s a half a million ticks a year! Ticks attach to birds and can also detach falling off entering a new environment. Sadly ticks are here to stay. When the tick comes incontact with the pet, the disease can be transmitted in as little as a few hours.

Iowa is now a Lyme endemic state. The cases of human Lyme disease reports increase every year. Our dogs are just as likely or even more likely to be exposed. Annual testing (usually with a heartworm test) not only lets us know our choices for treatment or prevention but also serves as a sentinel to potential human exposure. Preventative care for your dog is also good health awareness for your family.

Infection may present itself in different ways in dogs. Many dogs that are exposed to the organism may never show symptoms. However when symptoms do appear, they may not occur until many weeks or months after the initial infection. Symptomatic dogs may have joint pain and fever resulting in lameness issues and lethargy. Long-term infection can lead to significant kidney damage. It is known in humans, that the disease can rarely be fully cleared from the body. All symptomatic dogs need to be tested and every dog should be tested for Lyme disease annually to check for asymptomatic cases.

In the past several months, our team has seen eight positive cases of Lyme disease in the Norwalk area alone. None of the positive dogs had received the appropriate preventative care. The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true in the case of Lyme disease. The steps that need to be taken to keep your pet safe include checking your pets frequently for ticks after spending time outdoors, using a very effective tick preventative (oral Simparica or Bravecto) and vaccinating yearly. Ticks that are found on your dog should be removed as soon as possible. Tick medications for the treatment and prevention of tick infestation are vital to kill ticks prior to them transmitting the organism into the blood stream. Vaccinations may also prevent illness not only for those without the Lyme disease but also for those previously exposed.

At Family Pet Veterinary Center we strive to provide the best preventative care for our patients. We offer all of our patients the newest generation of oral flea and tick medication that is considered more effective than some of the more raditional topical applications. In addition we use latest and most effective Lyme vaccine that can even help minimize issues in pets that have been previously exposed to Lyme disease. Interestingly, this new vaccine is so different that hey are investigating using its technology for human Lyme disease prevention.

Don’t wait to keep your pet safe! Ask about preventative options and routine testing the next time you visit.

Protect Your Pet Against Leptospirosis

“Being a pet owner can seem overwhelming at times.”

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Being a pet owner can seem overwhelming at times. There are so many factors to keeping your furry friend happy and healthy that it can be difficult to know where to direct your attention. At Family Pet Veterinary Centers, we want to take the stress out of caring for your pet and help you stay informed about threats to their health.

One of the increasingly prevalent risks comes from a disease called Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through animal fluids like urine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacteria most often enter the animal’s body through its skin or mucous membranes like its eyes, nose, or mouth. Drinking contaminated water is also a common cause of infection. When it goes untreated, Leptospirosis can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and even death. In some cases, the disease has also been spread to humans.

Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics, and if you know the signs to look for, early detection can help prevent more severe organ damage. Unfortunately the symptoms of Leptospirosis vary widely and are often nonspecific. Symptoms include—but are not limited to—fever, vomiting, diarrhea, refusal to eat, and stiffness. In many instances pets are not obviously ill until the disease is more advanced resulting in severe problems and a much worse prognosis. Patients that survive may also have continued long term kidney and liver problems. If you believe your pet may be infected with Leptospirosis, contact your vet immediately.

While some vets don’t require the vaccine for Leptospirosis, we believe in fully protecting your pets. We have diagnosed and treated multiple cases in the past year. As advocates for disease prevention, Family Pet Veterinary Center’s standard vaccinations include protection against Leptospirosis.