PETS WITH LYME

In some parts of the United States, the number of dogs with positive tests for Lyme disease is high. In the Northeast, as many as 50% of the dogs tested are found to be positive.

However, of those, a large percentage 85-95% will never show signs of disease.

Protect Your Family and Your Dog from Lyme disease

  1. The most effective means of protecting both your family and your dog from infection with Lyme disease is to prevent tick infestations.
  2. Check your dog thoroughly and often for ticks.
  3. Remove them promptly when found.
  4. Never handle a tick with your bare hands. Always wear gloves when removing them. Be particularly wary of checking your dog for ticks when he has been outdoors.
  5. Check any cats. Though cats are not at high risk for Lyme disease, they can become infested with ticks when outdoors.
  6. Use monthly flea and tick preventive medications for your dog and/or cat.
  7. Take precautions to help keep your living area free of ticks, such as keeping your grass mowed and removing high grasses and brush from near your home.
  8. Check yourself thoroughly for ticks, particularly if you have been in a high risk area such as a wooded location or an area with high grasses.
  9. Do not forget to check your children as well.
  10. Thoroughly inspect any clothing, backpacks, or other gear that have you have used for hiking or camping. Look for crawling ticks on these items before you bring them inside your home.
  11. Do not assume that wooded or grassy areas are the only places where ticks can hide. It is possible for wildlife and even birds to bring ticks into your own backyard.
  12. So be vigilant in checking your pets as well as your family for ticks, particularly during the warmer months of the year.

Retired racing greyhounds may suffer from chronic, undetected infections and should be checked for Ehrlichiosis and other tick-borne diseases when adopted.

EHRLICHIOSIS
The symptoms and severity of illness seen with Ehrlichiosis depends on the species involved and the immune system of the dog. Generally, Erlichia appears to produce the most severe illness, and infections tend to progress through various stages.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS TO PAY ATTENTION TO:

fever

lethargy

loss of appetite

weight loss

abnormal bleeding (e.g., nosebleeds, bleeding under skin — looks like little spots or patches of bruising)

enlarged lymph nodes

enlarged spleen

pain and stiffness (due to arthritis and muscle pain)

coughing

discharge from the eyes and/or nose

vomiting and diarrhea

inflammation of the eye

neurological symptoms ( incoordination, depression, paralysis, etc.)

NOTE: Anaplasma causes recurrent low platelet counts but tends to produce only mild symptoms.

It can be difficult to confirm a diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis.

  • Blood tests reveal decreased number of platelets (“thrombocytopenia“)
  • Decreased Red blood cells (anemia) and | or white blood cells.

TREATMENT OF EHRLICHIOSIS

  1. Ehrlichiosis responds well to treatment with the anitbiotic doxy
  2. Improvement in symptoms is usually very quick, but several weeks of treatment is usually needed to ensure a full recovery.
  3. In severe cases where blood cell counts are very low, blood transfusions may be needed.

*****Reinfection is possible as immunity to Ehrlichia bacteria is not long lasting*****

BABESIA INFECTIONS IN PETS

Babesia occurs in dogs and other species, and is transmitted mainly by ticks. Babesia are protozoal parasites that attack blood cells, though the severity of illness varies depending on the species of Babesia involved, as well as the immune system of the infected dog.

Babesia is most common in warmer weather when ticks are most numerous.

Infections are also possible through blood transfusions, and in the case of one Babesia species (Babesia gibsoni), dog-to-dog transmission via bite wounds is thought to be a mode of transmission. Mothers can also pass Babesia to their pups before birth.

RISK FACTORS:
Babesia infections occur worldwide in areas where the ticks that carry the disease are common. While any dog can be infected, young dogs tend to suffer more serious illness. Greyhounds, pit bull terriers, and American Staffordshire terriers seem to be most susceptible to infection (Greyhounds with a strain of Babesia canis, and terriers with Babesia gibsoni).

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • lethargy
  • pale gums and tongue
  • red or orange urine
  • jaundice (yellow tinge to skin, gums, whites of eyes, etc)
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • enlarged spleen

TREATMENT OF BABESIA PETS
A variety of drugs have been used to treat Babesia, with variable success.

  • Imidocarb Dipropionate is used most commonly in the US;
  • Diminazine Aceturate is not available in the US but is used elsewhere.

Both have a range of side effects which can be quite severe.

A NEWER COMBINATION OF MEDICINES:

Azithromycin & Atovaquone, is promising, though expensive.

In severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary.

Treatment relieves the symptoms of babesiosis, but it does not fully clear the parasite from the body.

Dogs may remain infected at a low level, and Babesia can flare up again due to stress or reduced immune system.

Dogs that have been diagnosed should not be bred or used as blood donors (to prevent spreading disease).

Also in severe cases, multiple organ systems may be affected:

  • lungs
  • gastrointestinal tract
  • kidneys
  • nervous system.

Sometimes dogs suffer a very acute form of Babesiosis and suddenly go into shock and collapse.

 

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.