Lyme disease in dogs can be a nasty, debilitating condition. Caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorferi transmitted by the blacklegged tick, symptoms include fever, swelling of joints, lameness, depression and loss of appetite.
Animals that normally inhabit brush and forested areas may be infected with borrelia. These animals can transmit the bacterium to a feeding tick. An unsuspecting dog can then be infected while walking through the tick-infested area. Migrating birds have also been found to be responsible for passing the disease agent to previously unaffected regions.
Factors to consider in determining if your dog is at risk include walking in parks and forested areas and travelling to Cottage Country or down south.
Two important strategies in the prevention of Lyme disease are vaccination and tick control. A yearly vaccination protocol will help stimulate protective antibodies and booster immunity against the disease. At the forefront of prevention is tick control. It is easy to administer and highly effective. In addition to transmitting Lyme disease a single tick can also transmit other disease causing agents, such as those responsible for canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.
A discussion with your veterinarian about risk factors and prevention will determine the best strategies to prevent Lyme disease from affecting your family pet.