YES you should be worried! Tick-borne disease is at epidemic levels!
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme is a tick-borne disease that is spread by a deer tick. Ticks transmit a spirochete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the cause of Lyme disease. Once infected with the spirochete it is very difficult to eliminate the disease in your dog. It can be treated, but 1 in 10,000 dogs can develop a condition whereby the Lyme infects the kidney, heart or brain and can kill your dog. Clinical signs of Lyme disease look much like the flu. Your dog may have a fever, not eat or drink and will act painful in all joints. Sometimes they will not even walk or walk like their entire body hurts. It is treated with an antibiotic called Doxycycline for a minimum of 30 days.
How do you prevent Lyme Disease?
It is much easier and less expensive to prevent Lyme disease. There are two ways to prevent Lyme disease and I recommend you do both. First, have your dog vaccinated with a Lyme vaccine yearly. It is important to stay current with the vaccine as the protection only lasts for a year or less. Also, it is critical to know that if your dog is infected with Lyme, it is not protected from re-infection. Natural Lyme antibodies are not protective antibodies (like Chicken Pox) and they will not prevent further infection. The second way to prevent Lyme are flea and tick preventatives. Products are available as topicals, collars and orals. Topicals include Vectra, Frontline Plus, and Advantage; Seresto is a collar; and orals include Nexguard and Bravecto. I use Vectra on my dogs. I do believe it works best to repel and kill ticks. It’s best to discuss flea and tick prevention with your veterinarian so you can be assured you choose a product that best fits your dog.
In New England, our winters are quite variable so protection from ticks is recommended all year around. Click on this informative map to better understand prevalence of ticks in your geographic area. Depending on where you live, you may need to apply flea and tick preventatives all year long. Deer ticks are active in cooler temperatures (40-70 degrees) and become less active in warmer weather over 85 degrees. Many dogs contract the disease when the weather gets colder and the ticks are looking for a warm body to attach to. If your dog does not have a tick preventative on, it will not be protected from Lyme and many other tick borne diseases suck as Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. Other tick-borne diseases can also cause severe illness in dogs similar to Lyme disease. Be sure to keep your pets protected and healthy. Ask your Vet if you’re not sure and enjoy the outdoors!