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Lyme Disease, Zoonotic Dog Diseases, & Tick Prevention ‘101’

Golden Retriever looking around vet office

I’m writing today’s blog entry because I believe that Lyme disease is a significant and serious threat to the health & well being of the dogs in our practice at Sunnyview Animal Care, & I would make the argument it is also of concern to their families.  I am disappointed to have learned that many people are not aware of ticks is a serious disease vector for themselves, that they are a risk to the health of their families’ & their dogs.

Recently I was surprised to learn that only 30% of Canadian dog owners are using any sort of tick prevention, while 93% of Canadians surveyed were aware of Lyme disease – yet only 76% knew that this disease came from the bite of a tick!  Now on the one hand, there are areas of Canada where ticks carrying Lyme disease may not be of as great of a concern as they are here in Bedford, Nova Scotia; as the lowest awareness rate was in Alberta where I believe Lyme disease and ticks are not as common[I could be mistaken here], but these statistics are of concern.

When I read further-I was disappointed to read that only 35% of people are familiar with the symptoms of Lyme disease in themselves, & of these, only 6% felt they were “very familiar” with the symptoms.  I think I am most surprised at the fact that there are at least two human family practitioners in my practice that currently do not believe that Lyme disease is a problem or is of great concern in their [human] patients!

For more information on Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Erlichiosis; all diseases that are spread by the bite of tick, please go to our website – – as I believe everyone, not just pet owners-should be aware of these disorders and take precautions.

Happily enough, where ticks are concerned there are very effective, monthly topical tick preventatives that are safe your pet and for your family as well.  This means that while Lyme disease is a serious lifelong and all too common disease in dogs, it is easily preventable! There are also tick collars-only one of these (‘Preventic’) is in my opinion effective and, only when your dog is a very short coated breed, or you clip a significant 2 inch by 1 inch strip under the neck in order to allow the caller to contact your dog’s skin and allow the product to spread over the body.  Otherwise, “K9 Advantix II” or “Revolution” are the only effective once monthly tick and flea preventatives to which we defer in our practice – and the former gets all four species of ticks in Canada, stopping them from biting in the first place.

The reason for our recommendation is simple-both have effect this above 94%, and were K9Advantix II is concerned, the effectiveness can approach 98%.  The reason I mention this is that I have people in the practice using over-the-counter tick collars who are surprised when the collar fails. Why this is, is beyond the subject of this blog however, I encourage you to discuss this with your veterinarian- & soon.

Many people are not aware of, nor familiar with the risks and signs of Lyme disease in their dogs – these symptoms can be as subtle as lethargy, inappetence, reluctance to play or be “normal”, and can disappear altogether – only to recur with more severity months or even over a year later.  More significant signs are swollen joints, the symptoms of kidney disease, or PAIN – many dogs can be described as ‘walking on eggshells’ at their worst.

If anything else, please “take home” the fact that by the time your dog develops Lyme disease-you are looking at a life-long and likely PAINFUL situation requiring medications, annual testing, and with the kidney disorder – possibly a shortened life-span.  As I understand the current research, 2 out of 10 dogs that are positive for Lyme disease will develop either osteoarthritis or, kidney disease. The latter will require an annual “Urine Protein / Creatinine Ratio” testing to ensure that the kidney disease does not develop or, the test will be used to assess the development of the disease and allow you and your veterinarian together to plan treatment.

In areas where Lyme disease is “endemic”, Sunnyview Animal Care recommends that in addition to topical preventatives, the use of an annual vaccination for Lyme disease be considered for your dog.  Unfortunately, at this time, Lyme vaccine requires annual revaccination, unlike the other three vaccines we use in a three-year rotation.

Anyone reading this blog who is not a client of Sunnyview Animal Care should consider contacting their local veterinarian in order to start the discussion on this subject-if nothing else to be sure that this is not a concern for you, your pet and family, for whatever reason in your area.

Thank you for reading! For further information on ticks/Lyme in Nova Scotia, please click on the links or PDF’s below;


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