I grew up helping stray animals, and I remember getting bitten by a tick when bathing a homeless dog. I was a first-year undergrad student, and I didn’t even know ticks could transmit diseases.
In my senior year of undergrad, I learned about Borrelia burgdorferi in my medical microbiology class. I found it interesting how ticks can transmit these spirochetal bacteria infecting both animals and people. I was amazed to learn ticks need to be attached for long hours to infect a pet and how they need to be carefully removed.
A few years later, I shadowed a case of Lyme for the first time during a veterinary externship. A young male dog presented for shifting lameness, painful joints, lethargy, and fever. A C6 test confirmed a positive case while other diagnostic tests confirmed the diagnosis and determined high levels of antibodies. In this case, there were no signs or evidence of kidney failure, but Lyme can also affect animals’ neurologic and cardiac systems.
This dog was treated with oral antibiotics twice a day for four weeks and recovered well. Some takeaways from this case are that antibiotic therapy is more prolonged, medications for pain control may be necessary, and we should ask the owners if the pet is on tick prevention.
I like to make owners aware of the importance of tick prevention. Fleas and ticks are everywhere, especially in the warmer months. It has always been helpful to remind pet parents they can get this from the tick, and it’s a zoonotic disease. There are many good products available for our dogs and cats.