April is recognized as Lyme Disease Prevention Month. Lyme disease is something that pet owners who travel out New England, New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate NY should be highly aware of. Before we talk about Lyme disease prevention some may ask what exactly is Lyme disease?

Canine Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial disease transmitted by the bite of an infected tick harboring Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium. The disease is not passed directly from animal to animal or from dogs to people.

The disease is named after the town of Lyme, CT, where a number of cases in people were identified in 1975. Although it was determined that Lyme disease was a tick-borne disease in 1978, the cause of the disease remained a mystery until 1981, when Borrelia burgdorferi was identified by Willy Burgdorfer. Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the northern hemisphere.Early signs of Lyme disease in dogs usually include fever, depression, and listlessness. Dogs can have the characteristic circular skin rash seen in people, but it is often missed because of their hair coat. If the disease is not treated, later signs may involve the joints and kidneys and less commonly heart and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and its signs can be controlled by antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to the more serious signs, which are often disabling and difficult to treat.

Lyme Disease Prevention

One of the most important measures you can take is to have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease, especially if you live in an area where exposure to Lyme disease is high. Annual vaccination is an affordable means to help protect your dog from a disease that can be very costly to treat. Many dogs that become infected with Lyme disease are never fully free of infection despite antibiotic treatment. Ask your veterinarian if he or she uses a vaccine that protects against Lyme disease. Your veterinarian will determine an appropriate vaccination series, depending on your dog’s vaccination history and risk factors. Your dog may require an initial vaccination and a booster a few weeks later. Annual vaccination is needed for continued protection. Vaccination before a dog becomes infected provides the best outcome. Depending on the risk factors for your dog, the following vaccination protocols are often used.

  • All vaccinated dogs should receive an initial vaccination and a booster at least 2 weeks later. Annual revaccination is recommended.
  • Vaccinate puppies as part of their puppy shots.
  • Vaccinate dogs whose vaccination and disease history is unknown.
  • If an adult dog is unvaccinated, test for antibodies to see if your dog has ever been exposed to Lyme disease. This test can be done in the exam room at the same time your dog is being tested for heartworms at his annual exam. It is highly accurate and you’ll get the results in about 10 minutes.
  • a. If the test is positive AND the dog has some signs of Lyme disease such as tenderness or swelling in his or her legs, a fever, or he or she seems lethargic, your veterinarian will           determine the appropriate treatment. b. If the test is positive AND the dog is NOT showing signs of Lyme disease, it is up to the         client and veterinarian to decide what course of therapy to take. One Lyme vaccine has been proven safe in dogs that test positive for Lyme infection.
  • Source: Boehringer Ingelheim 

    Tick Control is also very important in the prevention of Lyme Disease. There are many products ranging from spot on treatments, collars, and chew tablets. Here at Lenox Hill Veterinarians we recommend Parastar topical treatment.

    Parastar™, from Novartis Animal Health US, Inc., contains fipronil, the same active ingredient in Frontline® Top Spot® that kills fleas and ticks. A topical medication applied every 30 days, Parastar also kills chewing lice, which can cause skin irritation and infection. Applied to your dog’s back in a single spot, Parastar results in fast-acting and long-lasting control of fleas, ticks and chewing lice for 30 days.

    Easy to apply! Pet owners will appreciate the ease of applying Parastar monthly

    How to Apply: 1. Invert tube over dog and use open end to part the dog’s hair. 2. Squeeze tube firmly to apply all of the solution to the dog’s skin as a single spot to the dog’s back between the shoulder blades.

    Source: Novartis Animal Health

    If there are any questions or concerns regarding Lyme Disease or Lyme Disease Prevention please to not hesitate to call Lenox Hill Veterinarians at (212)879-1320 or email us at lenoxhillveterinarians@gmail.com. 


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