How Prevalent is Lyme Disease and Should I Be Worried?

March is our Lyme Disease Prevention and Awareness Month! Like people, dogs are susceptible to lyme disease that can have long lasting impact on their health long term. The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, is the causative infectious agent of Lyme disease. The deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, is the only tick that carries and transmits the bacteria known as Lyme disease!

In Virginia, 1 dog out of every 12 is likely to test positive for Lyme disease. In the graphic below, dogs in Fauquier County are at a high risk for becoming infected with Lyme Disease.
If a tick carries the bacteria, the tick will have to be attached to an animal for 48 to 72 hours in order to transmit. The bacteria must undergo pathogenic changes in order to be ‘ready’ to infect a susceptible animal. Once the bacteria is transmitted to a host, it will take about 70 days for clinical signs to appear; this occurs in 5-10% of infected dogs. Clinical signs include: fever, 0enlarged lymph nodes, lameness, and joint swelling. In very few dogs, approximately 1-2% of cases, they will develop acute renal failure and this can be fatal. A mainstay of treatment is antibiotics. Some cases may need additional supportive care.

We recommend EVERY dog to have yearly testing done since the majority of dogs never show clinical signs of the disease!

The first and best step towards preventing disease is to have pets on effective flea and tick preventatives. Prevention should be YEAR LONG, not seasonal! We still see ticks in the winter! Talk to you veterinarian about which preventative is right for your animal.

There is a lyme vaccine available that can improve protection for dogs against lyme disease. We recommend ALL dogs to be vaccinated for this disease since it is so prevalent in our area! If your dog tests positive, our doctors will discuss with your options which could include further testing and/or medications.

Enjoy a 10% discount off of Lyme disease vaccination and testing to start the vaccine at all our hospitals! Help us help you protect your dog against Lyme disease this spring!