Worth Rereading – Canine Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease – Testing, Prevention, and Treatment


The risk of Lyme Disease is real and frequent.  In 2016, New York State reported 1 in 10 dogs positive for Lyme; and Broome County reported 1 in 6 [Companion Animal Parasite Council, data on file https://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/].  So far in 2017, the frequency is higher (NYS 1 in 9, Broome 1 in 7).  Increased numbers are also being seen for Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.

Lyme disease risk areas are increasing due to:

  • Favorable tick habitats
  • Blurring of urban and suburban boundaries
  • Increase in the number of pets that travel
  • White-footed mouse population explosion

Clinical Symptoms may take 2-5 months to appear (but may not show in up to 80% of dogs).  These include:

  • Generalized pain
  • Walking tenderly
  • Recurring lameness
  • Shifting-leg limping
  • Swollen joints
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression / Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Treatment will decrease the disease symptoms; it is not always possible to completely eliminate the disease and/or its long-term side effects.  Early detection and treatment can reduce or eliminate the disease in many dogs; and decrease the costs of treatment and monitoring.


Step ONE: Daily Grooming

Examine your dog daily during tick season (March to December) for ticks on the hair or starting to bite.  Especially look around ears, neck and head junction, and between toes.  Remove any moving ticks with a tissue, toilet paper, or paper towel (do not touch with bare fingers); removed embedded ticks with a tick remover or tweezers or needle-nosed pliers (grasp and gently but firmly pull upwards until the tick comes off).  Discard ticks safely (do not crush; instead, drown in rubbing alcohol or flush).

Step TWO: Prevent

We cannot stress enough the importance of year-round tick control.  It is a myth that ticks die in the winter.  They never really go away and those 50 degree days in January or February bring those ticks out!

Your pet’s tick control can be a collar (Seresto is the only brand we recommend), a chewable tablet that they eat on a regular schedule (every 4 weeks or every 12 weeks), or a topical product that spreads over the skin (some stay only on the surface; some are absorbed into the dog) every 4 weeks.

We recommend the veterinary products that affect the tick (and flea) nervous system, rather than old-fashioned insecticides (Hartz, Sargeant’s, etc.).

Step THREE:  Protect

Vaccination with a highly effective new technology product called crLyme is strongly recommended.  This vaccine can help prevent the transmission of disease organisms from the tick into the dog as well as the likelihood of disease and severity of symptoms, if a prevention dose is missed or late or overwhelmed.  This is a very safe and effective vaccine with minimal side effects (2 doses initially, then annually).

Step FOUR:  Annual Testing

Knowing what diseases your dog has actually been exposed to is very important.  Our Hospital uses the Snap 4DxPlus diagnostic test.  It tests for Lyme, Heartworm, Anaplasma (2 strains) and Ehrlichia (2 strains).  All of these are transmitted by vectors (mosquitoes for heartworm; ticks for the other 3).  Testing annually is recommended for your dog’s health and required for support from the manufacturers of the vaccines and preventatives.

We recommend:

  1. Grooming
  2. Prevention medication (at less than 6 mo of age = Nexgard monthly; at 6 mo and older = Simparica monthly year round)
  3. Proper vaccination (with crLyme vaccine from Zoetis)
  4. Annual testing (Snap 4DxPlus) (required for the Zoetis guarantee)

For dogs negative on testing, starting crLyme vaccination and year-round Simparica administration, Zoetis has a guarantee. (call directly to Zoetis, Inc. Veterinary Medical Information and Product Support with Satisfaction Guarantee questions at 1-888-Zoetis-1).