As we grow weary of snow and ice and begin to daydream again about the warmer weather ahead, it is not too early to prepare for yet another tick season in Minnesota!
What is the problem with ticks?
In Minnesota, 1 out of 11 dogs test positive for both Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis, which are bacterial diseases spread by deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Although most dogs will not develop any signs of disease, some may become very sick. Deer ticks that carry Lyme or Anaplasma transmit these diseases usually after 24-48 hours of attachment. Dogs seem to be most vulnerable to infections in the spring and fall.
What are the typical symptoms of Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis?
Pets may develop symptoms such as fever, lethargy, depression, anorexia, and enlarged lymph nodes. Dogs also may have some degree of joint pain, which will manifest as stiffness, joint swelling, or reluctance to move around. Less common are issues with bleeding (may see evidence of bruising, nosebleeds, or low platelet counts). Pets may show symptoms of Anaplasmosis within a week or two of the tick bite. Pets with clinical Lyme Disease usually show symptoms 2-5 months post-exposure, although they can develop obvious signs of illness much earlier.
If most dogs do not show signs of illness, how can I determine if my pet has been exposed?
At Westgate Pet Clinic we use an IDEXX 4Dx Plus Snap test to detect exposure to the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. This is the same test we use to test your pet for Heartworm disease. This test may be positive within a few weeks of the original exposure.
How do we treat Lyme Disease or Anaplasmosis at Westgate Pet Clinic?
Doxycycline given over 28 days is the antibiotic treatment of choice for both Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. Because some pets with Lyme Disease develop acute and/or chronic kidney disease, we generally treat both the pet that is “acting sick” and the healthy pet that has developed a positive for the first time on the 4Dx Plus Snap test. At this point in time, most experts would recommend only treating Anaplasma cases that have developed symptoms of Anaplasmosis (there is no current evidence of long-term health consequences).
How do we prevent Lyme Disease or Anaplasmosis?
At Westgate Pet Clinic, we offer highly effective vaccines against Lyme Disease and we recommend their use in pets that are at high risk for the disease. Because there is no vaccination that can prevent Anaplasmosis, it is important to also consider a product that is effective at killing ticks before they can transmit these diseases. Topical products against ticks should be applied starting in March, with the last application to cover the month of November. It only takes about five warm days for ticks to be active so get ahead of the game and treat by mid-March! Ask your Westgate veterinarian what is the best product for your pet’s risk level.