Everything Animals: Lyme Disease in Pets - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Everything Animals: Lyme Disease in Pets

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JERICHO, Vt. -

Jeanne Keefe recently noticed something wrong with her dog Scooter.

"We do go for a morning walk before I leave for work. It's about a 15 minute walk, and he just wasn't up for it," Keefe said. "He was kind of limping a tiny bit in the back end."

But by the time Jeanne got home from work at 6 o'clock, Scooter was much worse. She found him sprawled on the floor.

"The thing that struck me first was he had a treat next to him and anybody who knows Scooter, any food within his grasp he is after it," she says.

Jeanne rushed Scooter to the vet -- the diagnosis -- Lyme disease. She says she has found ticks on her pet in the past. He has even tested positive for being exposed to the Lyme bacteria. But it hasn't seemed to bother him until now.

Dr. Liz ALton is a vet with Green Mountain Animal Hospital, she says that is not usual.

"Just because you are Lyme positive does not mean you have Lyme disease you can be Lyme positive for a long time and never show signs of the disease," says Liz Alton with the Green Mountain Animal Hospital. "The most common signs we see in dogs would be down the line a little bit maybe pain, multiple joint pain, arthritis, swolen joints, shifting leg lameness, sore in front then sore in the back."

More serious symptoms can be seizers, kidney failure or heart failure.

The usual treatment is to put the dog on an antibiotics, but the problem with antibiotics, Alton says, is it is not known if it actually gets rid of the whole bacteria. Sometimes Lyme bacteria can go into hiding and then come back at a later time.

And while the state does not keep track of the number of dogs with lyme disease, Alton says 15 years ago Lyme disease was almost unheard of in Vermont, due a small population of the kinds of ticks that carry the bacteria. But that has changed.

"I think the trends that we are seeing over the last few years is that we see ticks being active almost all year round which people are surprised about," Alton says.

For dogs the best advice is to try and avoid tick bites by using a product that kill and repels ticks, but still, that is not a 100 percent guarantee.

As for Scooter, he is feeling better.

"He has just steadily gotten better, he can't go up stairs so well but he is doing almost everything he could within a few days of antibiotics treatment," Keefe says.

And Jeanne says they will avoid walking in tall grass, where ticks are lurking.

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