As pet owners, or guardians if you prefer, we are often forced to make difficult decisions for our animals. After all the pet can't choose its food or health care or toys or training or living environment. Some people probably find making the decisions pretty easy. They just immediately go along with what the vet advices or using the training techniques their friends use, others like me are prone to agonize. So when I have to make a big decision, or when I make a wrong decision, I get pretty upset. On Wednesday we got some pretty bade news about Norbert. He has Lyme disease.
You wouldn't think that Lyme disease would be that big a risk for an urban dog, or at least I didn't. After all we are surrounded by concrete. However, ticks are everywhere in north east and if you walk your dog in parks or ever take him or her into the woods you are exposing them to ticks. We got Norbert the C6 titer test almost as an after thought because my husband had removed a tick from him last fall. At the time I called the hospital and misheard the information the receptionist told me. I thought they said to test in 6 months, but really they said to test in 6-8 weeks. So I didn't ask for the test until now. Since Norbert has been acting totally fine I certainly didn't expect a positive result. I was shocked and very upset when Norbert's tick titer, which measures antibodies in the blood against Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases, came back with an antibody titer of 290 for the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. Over thirty is considered positive for Lyme disease so even though he is completely asymptomatic Norbert's titer was very high.
Lyme disease can cause joint problems, lameness, fever, kidney disease or even failure, and sometimes heart problems. As I read of these things online I was completely sick I blamed myself for using a natural tick and flea product on Norbert, Bug Off Garlic, from Spring Time Inc (I do think the product has worked on fleas and some dogs on Frontline get Lyme disease anyway), I blamed myself for walking Norbert in woody and grassy areas, for not getting him the Tick titer test sooner. I basically blamed myself for everything. Thankfully, Norbert had blood work on Thursday to check his kidneys and other organs and it came back normal, the same as routine blood work he had in February. Its still possible that the Lyme disease has done some damage to his kidneys, since less then 25% of kidneys have to be functioning to show changes in blood work. However, since he is acting normal and his blood work is good our vet at Westside Animal Hospital, thinks we caught it in time. Right now our vet doesn't think Norbert needs a urinalysis, but I may do that in a month or so. I plan to put him on one of the lower phosphorus kibbles recommended on the dog aware website. The website is a godsend for anyone with a dog with kidney problems.
Norbert will be on Doxycline, an antibiotic, for 28 days and then his tick titer will be re-tested. If its still above normal, which is likely since its so high, he will need a longer course of antibiotics. I hoping that we caught this in time, but I have learned from my mistakes and am going back to using Frontline (I stopped using it due to my concerns about its toxicity) April through November. I will also check every inch of my dogs for ticks every time we go for a walk. Make sure you are careful and don't make the same mistakes I did.