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Lyme disease dogs

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs

Lyme in dogs

Our family adopted a two-year old.

She’s an 11-pound cuddle-bug with a smidgen of sass and a lust for green beans.

The adoption process included a full medical checkup, a spay, and followup exam.

Everything looked great.

Everything, except our little doggy had tested positive for Lyme disease. In her early life, before her first owner abandoned her, she had never been given tick preventatives.

When I saw that she’d tested for Lyme I slightly panicked.

The adoption was already a done deal. And I wasn’t about to back out because of Lyme. If anyone understood the pain and confusion of Lyme, I figured, it was me. We were a perfect match.

When I asked if she had any symptoms, the foster mama clucked reassuringly. No signs, no symptoms.

The foster mom takes in 50 dogs a year. “About 5 of them have NOT tested positive for Lyme,” she said.

She doesn’t consider it a problem. But because they were located in Virginia, the vet started her on Doxy and administered a Lyme vaccination before the adoption.


All pets can get Lyme

“I didn’t even know dogs could get Lyme,” said more than one of our dog-owning friends.

They can.

Our pets are exposed to ticks—deer ticks, dog-ticks, many types—whenever they’re outside. We humans wear insect repellent but we know that it varies in efficacy. It’s very important to protect our animal friends with products such as Heartgard and Nexgard.

Contact with ticks is especially likely in deep woods, but we and our pets can pick up an infected tick anywhere rodents and other carriers might pass.

Including your own backyard.

Unless you are the owner of a blue-tailed skink, http://www.anapsid.org/lyme/sceloporus.html, your pet is not immune.

Cats, horses, ferrets, parrots and other critters bitten by an infected tick are vulnerable to Lyme disease. However, just as with Lyme in humans, much about the disease in dogs is controversial.

Unfortunately, veterinarians do not have a unified approach to diagnosis or treatment. A lot of this has to do with geography. In Virginia, Lyme is reported regularly.


Pet insurance

In canines, Lyme symptoms can manifest as lameness and other bad news.

So, being head-over-heels about our new baby, I looked into pet health insurance, because I know that Lyme symptoms may appear when a body is under stress.

If she were ever to get injured or sick, Lyme bacteria might be waiting to pounce.

But pet insurance raised more questions.

I learned that no pet insurance policy covers pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions can no longer prevent people from getting proper coverage, but our pets are a different story.

Would pet insurance cover Lyme symptoms that might show up in future years?


The scoop on pre-existing conditions

We pondered whether to buy it or not. It was a conundrum. When your dog has tested positive for Lyme, but shows no signs or symptoms, is it considered a pre-existing condition?

It sounded like a gray area to me, so I called the vet.

“It’s a gray area,” he said. “Ask the insurance company.”

It was starting to feel a little like a game of keep-away.

The representative at Healthy Paws pet insurance told me that coverage of any future symptoms would be determined by our veterinarian.


Let’s say your dog tests positive for Lyme today, but shows no signs or symptoms.

Five years down the road, he starts showing signs.

Lyme can cause many troubling symptoms and signs, including lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, lameness, malaise, joint pain, or kidney disease.

If the vet diagnoses the new symptom as a result of the Lyme disease that had been diagnosed all those years ago, the insurance policy will not cover treatment.

If the vet diagnoses the symptom to be unrelated to Lyme, it will be covered.


Prevention and care in spite of Lyme controversy

At least we can depend on one thing:

There is as much Lyme controversy among pet-doctors as among people-doctors.

It isn't hard to see why there is confusion, since as I mentioned, much of the reporting of Lyme depends on geographical location. Here in North Carolina, Lyme doesn’t exist, according to one of the vets with whom I conferred.

“You just don’t see it here,” he says.

I remain skeptical. It may simply be underreported.

Our dog hails from Virginia http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps.html.

As this map shows, Lyme cases are reported there.

What mystifies me is how the ticks know to stay put at the border.


Luckily, I found a vet who shares my skepticism and suggested antibiotic treatment, as well as the vaccine and followup booster.



Lyme treatment in dogs

Some vets, when a dog tests positive for Lyme, will administer the Lyme vaccination. They will also prescribe 30 days of Doxycycline and a followup booster at 3 weeks.

Other vets will not give the vaccination or antibiotics, reasoning that a dog that tests positive but doesn’t have signs or symptoms is a carrier, but is not sick. They claim that only a small percentage of dogs will ever show symptoms of Lyme.

On a personal note, my dog gets a few drops of Samento or teasel in her water bowl. I take one or the other as a prophylactic, so she gets it too.

And maybe most importantly, we do our daily tick checks after having been outdoors. This is tedious, but we sleep better at night.



Probiotics for pups

As soon as our pup finished her Doxy prescription, I started her on a high quality probiotic for pets. Probiotics will help restore her healthy gut flora and fauna. It is best not to give probiotics until your pet is finished with the antibiotics.

I use Dr. Mercola’s pet probiotics. For $5 off this product when ordered from iHerb, click http://www.iherb.com/iherb-brands?rcode=NEJ627.

A friend of mine claims that adding nutritional yeast to her dog’s diet repels ticks and fleas.

However, when I asked the vet if nutritional yeast would repel such critters, he smiled as if reasoning with a 5-year-old and handed me a pamphlet for NexGard.

This is not to say that the vet disapproves of nutritional yeast for dogs.

He claims that our dog eats better than he does. So because of the B vitamins that make her coat shine, I continue to give her nutritional yeast as well as probiotics.


Herbal alternatives for Fido

In humans, anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric are suggested for reducing inflammation and pain of Lyme symptoms such as headaches and arthritis.

Always ask your veterinarian to see if supplements or herbal alternatives are right for your pet. *See warning below.

For a little extra pet protection, I use high quality products on our pooch that are designed for pets and that use essential oils.

In my opinion, a line of quality products are available online from jeansgreens.com in Castleton, New York.

Jean’s Greens offers a Bug Repellent Shampoo that uses essential oils to fend off biting insects, including ticks. Ingredients include eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary and wormwood essential oils.


*Warning! Always check with your vet before feeding your beloved pet a new food or using any ingredients on their coat. Essential oils, when used wrong, or if a cheap brand is used, can cause harm or even kill a precious pet.


Anti-inflammatory diet for dogs - fish oil

Our vet will check our dog for elevated protein levels in her kidneys every three or four months. If protein levels are high, it indicates kidney trouble. However, if her levels have not risen for one year, all is considered well and we may expand the time between checkups.

For the anti-inflammatory effect, we added a high quality fish oil to her diet. Our vet says to be aware that a lot of fish oil on the market is “snake oil,” due to unethical producers who spot an easy way to cash in on people’s love for their pets.

She gets the same kind of fish oil I take, once daily. It has made her coat thick and soft as goose down.

Just a note here about delivery. I don’t let her swallow the whole capsule. The doc suggests cutting it open and squeezing the oil over her food. This prevents the whole cap from racing through the dog’s digestive system and popping out the other end—before it has had a chance to dissolve.



Good girl!

She loves to learn new words. Her favorite is “dance.”

Friends say they see a big difference in her personality, coat, and carriage since the day we brought her home from the rescue agency.

She may be Lyme positive—but so far, so good.

With all the love, care, and supplements she gets — along with the grain-free dog food, she is as full of good cheer as ever.

She still goes nuts over green beans. She's a good girl.

And she’s never met a human she didn’t love. I’m sure she’d even greet the jerk who tossed her out and shut the door in her face.


To him, I am forever grateful. For if he hadn’t rejected her and given the neighbors a reason to take her to the rescue people, we would never have met her.

She is, like your dog is to you, our precious baby. A font of love, forgiveness, and a source of happiness and joy.

With a little luck, we will never, ever have to use that pet insurance policy.


How to remove a tick from your dog
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/lyme-disease-in-dogs/
http://www.akc.org/learn/dog-health/how-to-remove-tick-from-dog/


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