I knew Lyme Disease was a nasty tick borne disease because I had a particularly bad case of it and I will sometimes have a relapse. What I didn't know is that it can be fatal in dogs even if you diagnose it quickly. As I watch my Standard Poodle dying of kidney failure caused by Lyme's Disease weeks after my mom's dog died from the same thing, I am doing everything possible to keep my remaining uninfected dog, as well as the dogs of friends, neighbors and family members, safe.
Things You Will NeedLyme Disease test
A good flea and tick preventative for your dogs
A well groomed lawn
Up to date Lyme Disease vaccines for your dogs
Step 1Make sure your dog isn't already infected with Lyme Disease by asking the vet to administer a simple test. Many vets currently use a heart worm test that can test for Lyme at the same time, so it can be as easy as saying, "Hey, can you check that blood for Lyme Disease, too?"
Step 2Once you are sure your dog isn't infected with Lyme Disease, ask your vet whether your dog should get the Lyme Disease vaccine. The vaccine is given in two doses two weeks apart and is followed up with a yearly booster.
Step 3While it isn't going to keep your dog one hundred percent safe, a good flea and tick preventative is a great way to limit the risk of having an infected tick bite your pup. Each tick that dies from coming in contact with the preventative means there is one less chance that another pet or family member will get bitten by a tick that carries Lyme Disease.
Step 4Ticks love rambling, overgrown gardens, natural wildflower areas and other wildlife friendly spots. As a final preventative measure, cut the grass short in areas where your pets hang out and save the nature habitat for an unused section of the yard that no one plays or walks in.
Lyme Disease is preventable, but not always curable. Please protect your dogs.
Tips & WarningsIf your vet isn't originally from an area where Lyme Disease is prevalent, he or she might tell you to just use a flea and tick preventative like Frontline. As someone who always used a preventative, I can assure you that it may keep ticks from moving in and settling down on your dog, but itwill not prevent Lyme Disease from infecting your dog if a tick bites it before dying.
There can be side effects to the Lyme Disease vaccine and it isn't right for all dogs. Someone who lives in an area without any Lyme Disease problems should talk to his or her vet about whether to get the vaccine. If you're planning to hike through the East Coast with your dog or are traveling around California together, be sure to share your plans with the vet.
If your pet does develop Lyme Disease, it doesn't have to be a death sentence. When they are given the proper antibiotics, many dogs recover quickly. However, for those that come in contact with a strain of the disease that rapidly progresses to the kidneys or other vital organs, the only solution is prevention. My Rocky was diagnosed almost immediately and went on a special diet, kidney protecting meds and everything else. His condition continued to deteriorate and he now has less than a month to live.