Hang on! Wait! Just because your dog tests positive for Lyme disease in the vet’s office does NOT mean you need to treat with antibiotics!
My sister and two friends of mine recently took their dogs to their vets for an annual exam. All the dogs seemed totally healthy and had no complaints at all. Their vets did a quick office SNAP blood test for Lyme disease (the tick borne disease endemic across the East Coast and much of the country) and the dogs tested positive for Lyme. All three of their vets prescribed those dogs a month’s worth of doxycycline to “treat” the Lyme disease.
But those dogs probably did not have Lyme disease!!
Dogs that do have Lyme disease show some or all signs of the illness: lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, lethargy.
I continue to be frustrated and baffled that so many dogs who are tested for Lyme (as they should be) are often prescribed drugs that they do not need 95% of the time.
As you will hear in the interview below, Dr. Donna Spector explains that experts in the field estimate that 70-90% of all healthy dogs in areas with the disease will test positive for it – without having Lyme disease.
Only 5% of dogs exposed to the bacteria will ever get clinical signs of it – in which case the dog would need those antibiotics to clear the bacteria from his system.
I urge you to listen to my conversation with Dr. Donna Spector – the board certified veterinary internist who is my co-host on our Radio Pet Lady Network show The Expert Vet. She came on Dog Talk last year to help clarify widespread confusion by owners and vets in how to interpret and manage test results.
Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know
Dog Talk (05-02-2015) #419: “Everything you need to know about Lyme disease and might have to educate your own vet about.” Dr. Donna Spector, Tracie’s co-host on the Radio Pet Lady network show THE EXPERT VET brings everyone up to date on the when/why/how of Lyme disease.
As you will hear in this interview, Dr. Donna explains that a positive test generally means that a dog has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme (because you live in an environment that is endemic to the ticks that carry it) and their body has mounted a successful immune response to the bacteria. That’s actually a good thing!
She also explains that experts recommend that you test the urine of a dog with a positive Lyme test to make sure there is no protein in their urine. That can be the earliest sign of the illness and can actually result in kidney failure and even death if not diagnosed and treated.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.