Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases seen in pets today. When left untreated, Lyme disease can result in debilitating lameness and arthritis, as well as occasional neurological, cardiac and fatal kidney disease. Lyme disease is diagnosed through a combination of blood tests, history of tick exposure, as well as having clinical symptoms as part of the history and physical exam of the pet. While Lyme disease is easily treated with a 3-4 week course of Doxycycline, it is far better to prevent this severe infection, rather than treat it.
The most important aspects of prevention revolve around preventing tick bite and exposure to affected animals. Fortunately, there are many effective tick control products on the market that effectively repel and kill ticks. One of my favorite products is the Preventic Amitraz Tick Collar. When this collar is properly fitted to the pet’s neck it can detach and kill ticks for up to 3 months. The only negative issue surrounding this collar is that it cannot be submerged in water, so it must be removed in those pets when swimming or from those pets that are often out in the rain.
My other two favorite products for preventing tick infestation and Lyme disease transmission are Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix II. I have especially found the latter product helpful in preventing tick attachment and infection transfer. When used according to the labeled recommendations, both of these products are highly effective in minimizing tick exposure. Other products like Revolution are also helpful in many cases.
While there is a vaccination for prevention of Lyme disease, I have not been impressed with either the efficacy or safety of even the newer Lyme vaccinations, and I therefore don’t recommend Lyme vaccination of dogs. Many years ago there were problems with Lyme vaccinations in people, and I have found similar problems in dogs vaccinated for Lyme disease.
There is also an excellent homeopathic remedy called Ledum, which I have occasionally found helpful when used in dogs experiencing early signs of Lyme disease. Consultations with homeopathic veterinarians to help strengthen the pet’s immune system through diet and nutritional supplementation, in addition to homeopathic remedies and herbal supplements, can also go a long way in preventing Lyme disease in our pets.