Chicago Veterinarian Warns About Lyme Disease Increase in Dogs

Lyme disease in dogs can have serious implications. The disease is on the rise in Chicago and I'm sure we'll see this trend in other regions of the country at some point. Did you know that in addition to tick prevention medication you can also talk to your vet about the Lyme disease vaccination?

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted to humans, dogs, and other animals by certain species of ticks. "It is caused by the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that is carried inside a tick and gets into a dog or person's bloodstream through a tick bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to different parts of the body and cause problems in specific organs or locations, such as joints, as well as overall illness."

What do you need to know about what's happening in the Chicago area? There are many new developments in that region about this terrible disease. Folks in Indiana are also reporting an increase in Lyme disease.

First, this disease is heartbreaking. It's possible that a tick can still get through despite giving the animal a tick preventative. So it's important to consider the Lyme disease vaccination too. The vaccine is a shot and a booster shot 4-5 weeks following that initial treatment.

NBC News Chicago reports a local case that involves a member of their newsroom. Local vet, Dr. Amanda Schnitzer, owner of Companion Animal Hospital River North, recommends that dog owners take two steps: give their dogs oral tick prevention medication, and get them vaccinated. The woman's dog involved in the case they reported on had trouble walking which is a common sign.

"They should all receive [the] Lyme Disease vaccination as well," Dr. Schnitzer said. "Because, again, why not use everything to prevent a disease that can never be cured?"

This is something pet owners should talk to their vet about.

Common Lyme Disease Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  • Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain
  • Swelling of joints

For dogs, there are two blood tests that must be done to confirm Lyme Disease.

You absolutely don't want your dog to test positive for Lyme disease. The signs above are very common with many diseases so this can be overlooked and especially if your dog is on a tick prevention medication.

Become familiar with the clinical signs so you know what to look for if you suspect there is a problem. Your animal's health is the highest priority and keeping them safe isn't always easy but it's easier when there is a vaccination available.

Beyond Lyme disease in dogs, ticks spread other diseases too and they're all awful. If there are confirmed Lyme disease cases in your region talk to your vet.