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It is now generally accepted that Lyme disease has become established in several areas of Nova Scotia. One of these areas is Admiral's Cove Park in Bedford. Other areas include parts of Dartmouth and several areas along the South Shore of the province. Over the past two years, there have been at least 14 dogs diagnosed with Lyme disease in the metro Halifax area. For the most part, it was not known where these dogs became infected. The tick that transmits the Lyme disease bacteria are deer ticks (black legged ticks). Deer are ubiquitous in the metro area and it can be assumed that infected ticks may be found outside of the above listed areas.
LYME DISEASE PROTECTION
Lyme disease has been diagnosed in dogs and humans since the mid 1980’s. Lyme disease is a very serious illness which can cause debilitation, arthritis, and major organ damage in infected people and pets. Although human vaccination is not yet possible, you can act now to protect your dog.
CAUSED BY BACTERIA – TRANSMITTED BY TICKS
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria carried by several kinds of ticks and present in the blood of infected mice, deer, and other mammals. The bacteria can be spread from wildlife to your dog when it is bitten by an infected tick. Ticks which carry Lyme disease are common to most provinces and may inhabit the lawns and gardens of suburbia or the fields and forests of rural areas.
HARD TO DETECT
The tick’s small size and initially painless bite makes this parasite extremely difficult to detect. In a very short period of time, an infected tick can bite your dog and transmit the bacteria to your pet. By the time the infected tick grows to visible size your dog will have become infected with the bacteria. If you do notice a tick on your dog it is wise to call us for further advice.
PREVENTING THE DISEASE
Prevention is the key and depends on two factors – preventing ticks from biting and vaccination.
There are products available to help prevent ticks from attaching and biting your dog. These range from various collars, sprays, and topical spot-on treatments. No product will completely protect your dog. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly check you dog for ticks after coming inside. If you find any ticks, call us for advice. If you have been shown how to properly remove ticks, do so immediately. There are devices available to facilitate tick removal. Do NOT attempt to smother the tick with grease or try to burn the tick. Once removed, bring the tick to the clinic. We will submit the tick to a laboratory for identification and testing for the Lyme disease bacteria.
Vaccination is a safe and effective means of giving your dog yearlong protection from canine Lyme disease. Due to the recent rise in the number of reported cases in the area, we have decided to recommend vaccination for Lyme disease for at-risk dogs. Please call us for information.
Visit the following link to the Nova Scotia Public Health department