At Paoli Vetcare, we believe that regular checkups and wellness exams are critical to your pet’s well-being. During wellness visits, we may administer routine vaccinations, screen for parasites, and answer your questions about proper diet, dental health, behavior problems, screening blood work, and any other concerns you have – such as Lyme disease.

Pennsylvania leads the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease, according to the DOH. Lyme disease cases increased by more than 20 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to recent data. In total, there were more than 11,000 confirmed cases in 2016, and it continues to grow.

April showers bring… ticks? While that may not be how the old adage goes, it’s true that as the weather warms, you and your loved ones (including your furry family members) are at increased risk of coming into contact with ticks and being exposed to all the nastiness that accompanies them, including Lyme disease.

How can my dog get Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is vector-borne disease, meaning it is transmitted through the bite of an infected arthropod (mosquito, tick, etc.). When an infected tick bites your dog, the infection spreads to your dog’s tissues.

Lyme disease has been found all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. In the U.S., it is most common in the upper Midwestern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coastal states.

How will I know if my dog has Lyme disease?

The signs of Lyme in dogs may not appear until several months after the initial tick bite, and, even then, can be difficult to detect and diagnose. Sometimes the signs are fleeting and will often mimic other health conditions. Lyme disease in dogs can vary from mild to severe, but the severe cases can lead to kidney failure, heart disease, nervous system complications, and even death.

Watch your dog for:

  • Recurrent lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Reluctance to move
  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Difficulty breathing

How is Lyme treated?

Because Lyme is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed, usually for a period of about 4 weeks. In some cases, antibiotic treatment won’t always completely eliminate the bacteria and symptoms could return.

How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme?

Like with many medical conditions, prevention is key. Your dog should be on a regular flea/tick preventive. There is also a Lyme vaccine available.  Avoid environments where ticks thrive, including tall grassy areas. Regularly check your dog for ticks, and, if you find one, remove it by hand.

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month. Call our office to chat about what you should be doing to prevent Lyme and other vector-borne diseases in your pets. We’re here to cure!

Where Do Ticks Actually Live?

Ticks that commonly carry Lyme disease can be found in tall grasses, thick brush, the woods, marshes—really any vegetative place that your dog wants to run through. Ticks will transmit their diseases after 24 hours or so of being attached to your dog.

While Lyme disease can occur in any state, most cases occur in the Pacific, Midwest, and Northeastern United States, though locations can change depending on deforestation and migrations. Since Lyme disease can be common in any area without warning, it’s always important to check your dog for ticks after you let them play outside.

Dr. Erin Downes VMD

Dr. Erin Downes graduated valedictorian from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. She and her husband, Dr. Jay Rowan are the owners of Paoli Vetcare | Main Line Vet & Animal Hospital.