When I first started practicing veterinary medicine, there was not much talk about tick diseases.
My first job out of school was in Seekonk, MA which is on the Rhode Island border. It was 1990 and I was hearing a lot about Lymes disease because many people in that area were getting diagnosed with Lymes after having been seriously sick for years. At that time, the disease was not fully understood in the animal world except that we knew that dogs and horses could get it and we knew it was transmitted by ticks. We also knew that it was a disease isolated to the eastern coast of Massachusetts and Connecticut as well as the islands. Over time Lymes disease has made its way to our area of the state. And more recently, we have started to diagnose another tick disease called Anaplasma, which used to be called Ehrlichia equi. And just recently, I have seen the disease Bartonella in the area. Diseases that are spread by ticks and fleas are many and geography plays a role in what disease is located where. I have come to learn that there is no way that you can 100% protect your dog from these diseases. We are not sure if cats are a host for these diseases. There is a lymes vaccine that is very effective and good flea and tick products will help as well. It is important to have your dog screened for Lymes and Anaplasma every year with a blood test called 4DX. Symptoms for these diseases can be many and the treatment plan for a positive dog involves many different factors. If your dog tests positive for Lymes or Anaplasma, I will discuss your options with you. If your dog has symptoms of these diseases, I will discuss doing more diagnostics and/or treating your dog. Tick diseases are very hard to understand and we are constantly learning about new tests, new treatments and new symptoms. As I learn new information through my journals and conferences, I will keep you all informed.