Thursday, December 11, 2014

Understanding Lyme Disease

Contributed by a CP Volunteer

Things to consider while you are Thinking Spring!

You may never see a tick on your dog, and you may never miss an application of Frontline or other preventative, but it is wise to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease so quick and effective action can be taken if necessary.

Lyme disease is a horrible disease spread by ticks, causing widespread joint and tissue pain and more.  Your dog may start limping or reacting to touch.  Worse than that, Lyme disease can seemingly cause an otherwise wonderful little dog to become a raging, aggressive monster, with no rhyme or reason.  If the Lyme Disease is undetected, the dog will very likely be destroyed when, tragically, the proper course of antibiotics would have cleared the problem completely.

If you do find that your dog has somehow contracted Lyme disease, it is very important to get it treated aggressively.  Doxycycline should be given for a period of 8 weeks, at twice the recommended level, and a C6 Quantative Analysis by Idexx should be done at the time the Lyme is diagnosed, and then again six months after treatment to see if the levels of antibodies go down by at least 50%.

If not, the dog should be treated again, same as above.  Lyme disease is a serious disease and should be treated aggressively.  Treating as recommended in the Merck manual may leave an animal partially cured, but with enough antibodies in their blood that it can recur, which is then called a "flare-up".  Each time a flare-up occurs, it is harder to stop or contain it.  

The vets on the Tick list recommend the dog be treated with doxy at twice the rate in the Merck manual and for 8 weeks rather than 4.

Join the Tick-L (tick list) at:

Many of us have been shoveling snow for a month or so already, even though it is not even Winter yet!  Now is the time to start thinking about keeping your best friends safe from the host of diseases carried by the insidious little tick.  Planning ahead - long before the grass starts to grow - might be the best approach to a more enjoyable Spring, Summer, and Fall with your dog!  Even after a brutally cold Winter, a single warm day in late Winter will bring the ticks back to life.

First, look around your yard for areas that need to be tidied up.  Ticks like tall grasses, low bushes, and yard debris, so identify any areas of concern. 

  • Cut your grass short and plan to keep it short.  There are fabulous new dwarf grasses you might consider introducing to your lawn to help in this regard and eventually reduce the work.

  • If possible, create a 6-foot wide edge between your active lawn and any taller grass, plants, or bushes.  Cedar mulch is great, except if you have a dog that likes to nibble on yard materials.  Better to use stone or a concrete walk.  Ticks may be in the taller grass, but they will not cross a barrier of this nature.

  • Purchase food quality Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and sprinkle it around the perimeter and all over your yard, in the gardens, and along the foundation of your home.  DE is a powdery substance made from tiny fossilized water plants. The tiny particles have sharp edges that cut and destroy flea eggs, dry out adult insects' protective outer coating, and shred their insides if ingested.  It is very effective in ridding your yard of ticks!  Treating your yard with DE is an excellent preventative measure and can be done once or twice annually, depending on several environmental variables.  Just be sure to use food grade DE.

  • Look for natural products to kill or ward off fleas and ticks, but always keep in mind the safety of your dog when using any pesticide, natural or otherwise.

Seems like a lot of bother, but it is well worth it!

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