By Dr. Margaret Meier, DVM, CVSMT
If this is your first experience with A Second Opinion, welcome to the best regional source for wellness and alternative health for both you and your pet! And, if you are a seasoned regular who doesn’t miss an issue, I’m sure you enjoyed the article on “Chronic Lyme Disease” by Sue Peck and Gail Corse in the March-April 2016 issue. In their article they discussed the organism, the epidemiology, and the symptoms of Lyme disease commonly observed in humans.
Pet parents often ask me: “Are the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease the same in our pets as they are in us?” “How do I know if my pet’s symptoms warrant a visit to my veterinarian?” “What are these ‘vector-born’ diseases that you are recommending my pet be tested for, and exactly how are you going to test for them?”
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in your pet can vary from intermittent and shifting leg lameness to vomiting, lethargy, high fever, in acceptance, and the inability/refusal to move. The severity of these symptoms can depend on your pet’s vaccination status as well. With the very high incidence of Lyme disease in our area, we strongly recommend dog owners consider helping protect their canine companions with RecombiTEK® lyme vaccine. This vaccine is the only non-adjuvanted Lyme vaccine available that has shown to “block transmission of B. burgdorferi from the tick to the dog.”1 There are many different Lyme vaccines on the market, so verifying which vaccine your veterinarian uses is important. In my experience, patients that have been properly vaccinated with this vaccine have substantially less severe symptoms than non-vaccinated patients. Especially if co-infections exist; for example Lyme and Anaplasma. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these symptoms, it’s important to consult your veterinarian when you first see them, as Lyme disease, if left untreated, may lead to fatal kidney disease.
The most common in-house vector-born diseases tested for in dogs, in addition to Lyme, are heartworm, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia. This is a blood test commonly referred to as a “4Dx” test. We recommend your pet have this test performed annually, and spring is a great time to do it! A vector is defined to be “a carrier, usually an insect or other arthropod, that transmits the causative organisms of disease from infected to non infected individuals, especially one in which the organism goes through one or more stages in its life cycle.”2 Ticks are the most common vector incriminated with these diseases, but other biting, blood-sucking insects, such as mosquitoes may also be the cause. Discussing how to best protect your pet from these parasites with your veterinarian will not only help your pet, but your budget as well. An ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to parasites, and we not only match, but usually beat over-the-counter or Internet prices! And, did you know that most manufacturers only guarantee products purchased directly from your veterinarian? If your pet’s blood produces a positive test result on the Idexx Laboratories, Inc. SNAP* 4Dx* Plus, or other in-house blood test, what does it mean for you and your pet? Depending on which organism produces a positive result, follow-up confirmation tests are often recommended to either quantify the antibody response to determine if the infection is active (i.e., Lyme) or confirm the presence of the antigen (i.e., heartworm). If your pet has a negative result on the test, but your veterinarian is still suspecting a vector-born disease, they will often recommend testing for Bartonella, Babesia, or other special tests for the specific rickettsial diseases they suspect based on their examination.
According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 1 out of every 12 dogs tested positive for Lyme disease in Wisconsin, and 1 out of every 17 dogs tested positive for Anaplasmosis so far in 2016. To see the prevalence of these diseases in your area visit www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps and highlight your county for real-time numbers. You will likely be surprised as to how prevalent these diseases really are! Give me a call at 715-926-3836 to get your pet tested and protected today!
Dr. Meier obtained her certification in veterinary spinalmanipulative therapy at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI. In 2007 she was certified by theAmerican Veterinary Chiropractic Association in animal chiropractic, and in 2012, Dr. Meier was also certified by the International Veterinary