The warmer months in Massachusetts bring ticks out, and ticks carry disease. The tiny deer tick, carries Lyme disease. The symptoms of Lyme disease include the following: lameness in only one or all legs, swollen lymph nodes, fever and lethargy. Only approximately 10% of infected dogs will show any signs at all, but many carry a hidden infection. It is important to protect dogs from this disease as it can become chronic, or lead to kidney failure (known as Lyme Nephritis) or heart disease (myocarditis).
The best thing for your dog, is to prevent Lyme infection. Tick control is the most important part of prevention. Using a paraciticide, like Advantix or Frontline is very helpful. It is also essential to check your pets daily for the presence of ticks. A tick needs to be attached for greater than 24 hours, in order to transmit disease. The last piece of the prevention puzzle is vaccination against Lyme disease. The recombinant vaccine that we use at Sudbury Animal Hospital is very safe and makes it 8 times less likely that your dog will contract Lyme disease. The primary reasons for vaccine failure are (1) letting the vaccine lapse, or go overdue, and (2) a very large tick population that overwhelms the vaccine. Using tick prevention, tick removal and vaccination is the best combination to prevent Lyme disease.