Tick-Borne Diseases in Minnesota
Warmer weather is here, the flowers are blooming, the days are longer --- and the ticks are out. What do you need to know about ticks and your dog?
First, we recommend a 4Dx test every year. This test evaluates your dog for heartworm disease as well as three tick-borne diseases: Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis.
If your pet tests positive for Lyme, Ehrlichia, or Anaplasma, it's important to understand that this test only indicates the presence of antibodies against these organisms. A positive test indicates exposure to these organisms, but it does not necessarily indicate that your dog has clinical disease. A positive test warrants additional testing to evaluate whether therapy is necessary.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by deer ticks. Symptoms may include lameness, reluctance to move, swollen or painful joints, lack of energy, or an increase in urination. Lyme disease can cause chronic damage to the joints and kidneys. Neurological abnormalities and cardiac signs may occur, but are rare. If your pet tests positive for Lyme, we recommend a quantitative test called a Quant C6. This test provides a numerical measurement of your dog’s antibody level. If this value is low, treatment may not be necessary. This value will also provide a baseline prior to treatment to allow us to measure success of therapy if needed. Some patients require extended therapy to treat this disease. If your pet has any applicable clinical signs, we may also recommend specific testing to evaluate his or her kidney health.
Anaplasma or Ehrlichia
Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by brown dog ticks and lone star ticks, while Anaplasmosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by brown dog ticks, deer ticks, and western black-legged ticks. Symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of energy, depression, lameness, swollen or painful joints, bleeding abnormalities, or pale gums. Some pets may develop life-threatening changes to their red blood cells or platelets with this disease. Anaplasmosis is more common than Ehrlichiosis in Minnesota.
If your pet tests positive for Anaplasma or Ehrlichia and is not symptomatic, these diseases may not require treatment. However, both diseases can cause life-threatening changes to the white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. We recommend a follow up complete blood count (CBC) for all patients who test positive for these organisms.
If your dog is showing any clinical signs of any of these tick-borne diseases and he or she tests positive, we would recommend treatment. Some pet owners request to treat their pet regardless of the results of the ancillary follow up tests. Treatment of all positive pets is controversial within the veterinary community, but since the treatment is reasonably safe, we would support this decision if desired.
Treatment, Follow Up, and Prevention
1) An extended course (28 days) of doxycycline is the treatment for any of these tick-borne diseases. This is an antibiotic.
2) For Lyme patients, we recommend a follow up Quant C6 in 6 months. A decrease in this antibody level by at least 50% is considered a successful therapy. An inadequate decrease in this antibody level warrants an additional course of antibiotic therapy.
3) In subsequent years, we recommend a 4Dx + Quant C6 at the time of your dog’s annual testing. Because your dog will likely be positive for Lyme for many months to years, we will need to continue to evaluate the Quant C6. In addition, Lyme disease can lead to protein loss via the kidneys. This is a specific type of kidney disease called glomerular disease. We may recommend a urine test to screen your dog for abnormalities.
4) For Ehrlichia and Anaplasma patients, no additional follow up is necessary unless the CBC was abnormal. These patients will often be positive on the 4Dx test for several years.
Prevention of tick-borne diseases is the key. If you are not already doing so, please make sure you are using excellent tick prevention once monthly. We recommend Nexgard (oral chews) or Frontline Gold (topical). All dogs with exposure to ticks, even if minimal, should be vaccinated for Lyme disease. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for Ehrlichia or Anaplasma at this time.
If you would like more information on these diseases, visit our website at www.stfrancisanimalandbird.com in the Pet Resources: Pet Library section. Dogs and Ticks, a website hosted by Idexx, also contains excellent information. If you have additional questions, you may reach us via phone (651-645-2808) or email (email@example.com).
Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?
(Courtesy: Boehriger Ingelheim)
Did you know that there are 86.4 million pet cats in the United States, compared with 78.2 million pet dogs, making cats the most popular pet? A third of U.S. households own at least one cat and more than half of those own at least two.
Despite the fact that in the last five years the number of pet cats has increased, the number of feline veterinarian visits is declining. Compared with dogs, nearly three times as many cats did not receive any veterinary care in the past year. The American Association of Feline Practitioners and American Animal Hospital Association recommend a minimum of one annual wellness exam for cats, with more frequent exams for senior and geriatric patients or those cats with medical or behavioral conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I've heard that cats are naturally very healthy and don't need to go to the veterinarian as often as dogs do. Is this right?
A: Cats are no more or less healthy than dogs and require annual wellness exams just as much as dogs do. Also, cats are notorious for hiding illness, and cat owners may not be aware that their cats are sick until the illness has become critical and requires longer and more extensive treatment.
Q: I can't get my kitty in a carrier to take her to the veterinarian. She runs off and hides and then when I find her and pick her up, she tries to bite and scratch me. It's been almost two years since she's been to the veterinarian. Any ideas would be helpful because I know she needs her shots.
A: Your cat is just being fearful of the carrier because it means a ride in the car and a visit to an unfamiliar place. Try keeping the carrier open in your home with her favorite blanket, toy or treats in it. This allows her to become accustomed to the carrier and see it as a comfortable place to sleep or play.
After a couple of weeks of this, try getting her in the carrier and taking a short ride in the car. Do this several more times so she'll begin to lose her fear and allow you to get her to the clinic for the exam.
Q: My cat is very healthy, so I don't know why she needs to go to the veterinarian every year for an exam. If she gets sick, I'll know it and we'll go then.
A: Did you know that cats instinctively hide illness? There's a good chance you won't know if your cat is sick, especially in the early stages of any illness. Annual exams may uncover an underlying illness or condition. Diagnosing illnesses or conditions and beginning treatment early can save your cat a lot of suffering later if the disease or condition has progressed.
If we haven’t seen your cat recently, we would love to do so!
To schedule an appointment for any of your pets, call us at (651) 645-2808.
Happy 1st Anniversary: St Francis Integrative Services
We are proud to celebrate St Francis Integrative Services’ First Anniversary! In addition to our state-of-the-art traditional veterinary care that you’ve known for years, we are pleased to offer massage therapy; laser therapy; Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) including acupuncture, food therapy, and herbal therapy; hospice and palliative care services; and pet bereavement counseling.
All of these services are performed in a quiet, relaxing location next door to our main practice. Our Integrative Services space is located at 1235 Larpenteur Ave W, just to the west of St Francis Animal & Bird Hospital’s main location. Consultations and services are by appointment only.
To schedule, please call us at (651) 645-2808 or visit our St Francis website.
Chiropractic for EveryBody also provides chiropractic care from our Integrative Services location. Together, we provide your pet with a range of treatment modalities in an environment that supports health and well-being for all.
To schedule chiropractic care, please contact Chiropractic for EveryBody at 952-484-5460 or visit their website.
Dr Sandra Soucheray
Dr. Sandra Soucheray will be providing relief veterinary care at St Francis on Friday, May 19th. Dr. Soucheray owns Dr. Soucheray’s At-Home Veterinary Care and will be providing periodic care at St Francis. You will find that she provides the same level of exceptional care and education that all of our doctors provide. Please give her a warm welcome when she’s at St Francis!
Pet Project Rescue Fundraiser
Join us today from 12 pm to 4 pm at the annual Pet Project Rescue fundraiser at the Bauhaus Brew Labs located at 1315 Tyler Street NE in Minneapolis. St Francis is sponsoring the event and will be providing a $100 Gift Certificate to bid on at the Silent Auction.
To learn more about Pet Project Rescue, please clickhere to visit their website.
St. Francis Schedule Changes
Please take note that we will be closing early on Wednesday, September 27th and Friday, September 29th. We will not be scheduling any appointments on Saturday, September 30th. St Francis is hosting a national veterinary practice management meeting and there is an important St Francis wedding. It’s a big week in September!
Image credit: wildpixel | iStock | Getty Images Plus