HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – One Midstate veterinarian calls it an epidemic: Lyme disease in Pennsylvania dogs.
The Pennsylvania Task Force on Lyme disease reports the state is number one in the nation for most confirmed cases. This is for 2014, which is the most recent data.
“Testing in dogs is as simple as drawing blood in the exam room. We only need one drop,” said Dr. Michael Anzur, veterinarian at Valley Road Animal Hospital in Enola.
Anzur is diagnosing about one case of Lyme disease in dogs every day.
“Limping is probably the number one clinical sign we see in dogs that come in and test positive for Lyme disease,” Anzur said. “With other dogs, it can range from lethargy to a fever, not eating, vomiting.”
Anzur says 95 percent of dogs with Lyme disease show no symptoms, but you can do things to prevent it.
“Monthly flea and tick prevention is the number one thing we can do to prevent our dogs from becoming infected with Lyme disease. On top of that, we can do a vaccine, which is once a year,” he said.
Call your vet if you find a tick attached to your dog. Try to remove the tick from the head and don’t squeeze the body.
“Lyme disease is transmitted through the deer tick. It’s everywhere. It’s in the backyard, it’s in the woods. You don’t have to live out in the country,” Anzur said.
Dogs who test positive for Lyme disease and have symptoms can go on an anti-bacteria treatment for several weeks.
About 30 percent of dogs tested at the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area are positive.
“Lyme disease doesn’t necessarily have to be fatal. One of the things that is a common misconception is that you’re only going to see ticks in the summer or in the warm months. They’re always there,” said Amy Kaunas, executive director of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area.
The shelter has something new to protect animals from Lyme disease. Insect Shield dog shirts cost between $8 and $20, depending on the size. You can also get Insect Shield dog bandanas. All proceeds go to help homeless dogs at the shelter.
“These have an insect repellant, particularly for ticks, inside of them, and they do last for, they’re guaranteed I believe up to 50 washes,” Kaunas said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more tips to prevent Lyme disease in your four-legged friends.