Home > Health Care - Dogs, Jasper, Pet News, Pet Safety > A New Study on Dogs and Lymes Disease May Offer New Insights Into Transmission

A New Study on Dogs and Lymes Disease May Offer New Insights Into Transmission


IMG_4843Recently a friend shared the news that one of her dogs had tested positive for Lymes disease. She was completely devastated and felt awful that her dog had gotten it in the first place. I immediately felt the need to respond and reassure her. Why? Because one of my dogs had/has Lymes disease too. 

Jasper was diagnosed with Lymes disease a few years ago. Although, I caught it fairly early, I was still devastated to know that he had gotten it in the first place. Had I missed a Frontline treatment>? Had I missed a day. I was pretty sure I had given all my dogs regular treatment, but somehow a tick had still gotten past it. Thankfully, Jasper was easily treated with antibiotics, but unfortunately it also left him with occasional flare ups. Something I still awful about.

When my friend shared her story, I expected to be the only one admitting that my dog also had also gotten Lymes. Instead, I was surprised to discover that not only was I not alone, but I was not even one among two or three friends. My jaw dropped open as friend after friend admitted that their dog(s) had also gotten Lymes.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It never occurred to me that so many people I knew would have dogs who at one time had had Lymes disease too. All this time I had kept my own sense of failure to myself, thinking I had somehow failed my dog, but as it turns out I was not even close to alone. The question is why? Are we all negligent owners? I find that hard to believe. Some people are more diligent than others in applying some sort of protection on their dogs. So, how is it possible that so many of us had dogs who had at one time had Lymes?

Maybe this story on a new study holds some answers: When Dogs Are Most Likely to Pick Up Ticks. 

I encourage you to read the full story, but here is a brief synopsis of what was in the piece:

So is Jasper’s Lymes disease a result of my negligence? Or, were his chances of getting it just as likely as any other dog? I suppose I will never really know, but seeing this study, and knowing how many people I know with dogs who at one time had Lymes disease, makes me wonder. Maybe Frontline isn’t enough. Maybe checking each and every time we return from the park or from a walk is the only way to be certain. It certainly has me thinking.

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  1. April 25, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    great info. thank you for sharing.

  2. April 25, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    So sorry to hear that about Jasper. I’m so glad you were able to catch it early. And I’m sorry to hear you’ve been blaming yourself for something you had no control of, but the best part is that you are not alone and despite the circumstances that’s a good thing.

    Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  3. April 25, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    Great post! I think it would be difficult to check your dogs thoroughly each time they come back from the outdoors, because honestly (at least where we live) ticks are just everywhere, and they are becoming more and more plentiful. And, if you have an especially shaggy dog, it’s all the more difficult.

    We hike every day, and the ticks are out every day. So let that be a comfort to you (in a weird way): there’s so little you can do to keep them away, that to blame yourself is just….well, it never would have occurred to me!

    (Personally, I like advantix. It keeps the critters off in the first place — or at least claims to. I have noticed that, if I use advantix over frontline, the flies don’t bother the dogs as much when we hike.)

    • April 25, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      I have often wondered if Advantix worked better than Frontline. I still have Frontline in the dog’s medicine cabinet, but have considered changing over when it is gone. I hate that we use Frontline, and still have to pull ticks off the dogs.

      • April 25, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        That’s why I switched, too. Although recently i got mad at Advantix when I found myself tugging relentlessly at a tick on Wolf’s ear. It turned out to be a growth on his skin! Oops!

      • Mel
        April 25, 2013 at 10:19 PM

        I have wondered that too Jank.

  4. April 25, 2013 at 6:18 AM

    So many dogs get it despite using tick prevention like Frontline. Frontline is not 100%, nor do they claim to be. You have to always check for ticks but those little buggers are hard to find at times. We sure wish there was a 100% prevention out there but there is not. There are products that are better than Frontline but some are poisonous to cats and since I hang out with my cats, we can’t use those.

  5. April 25, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Is advantix safe? Is there a definite product that balances safe with effectiveness? How about combining with a homeopathic product?

  6. April 25, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    Fantastic post. As you know, I felt absolutely terrible when I found out Tavish had a tick-borne disease (which turned out to be Ehrlichiosis rather than Lyme, but the post above still applies 100%). Like you, I felt like I’d done all the right things, but then I had to wonder if I’d been negligent at some point and let the tick slip by. After realizing just how many people had a similar experience, I felt much better – especially after hearing from so many other dog bloggers who are probably more conscientious than your average person!

    Oddly enough, Tavish was on Vectra rather than Frontline, at my vet’s suggestion. My vet thought it was more effective at keeping ticks off in the first place, but I guess one slipped through our defenses anyway. I do have to wonder what is the most effective option, and if I’d convinced myself that all of this stuff was more effective than it really is. Thank goodness Bella has been incident-free so far… my fingers are crossed that she stays that way.

    • Mel
      April 25, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      That’s right AJ! I forgot it was the other tick disease (there seem to be so many now). I think I will ask about Vectra. So glad Bella has been fine!

      • April 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        Well, thanks to a game of telephone between the vet, my answering machine, my husband & me, I thought it was Lyme to start with too!

        Yeah, Vectra might be worth asking about – although Bella has been on Frontline for years with no issue, so who knows. It’s so hard to know what’s best – I’d definitely be interested to hear what your vet thinks too.

  7. April 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Thanks for writing about this! Bruno was diagnosed with Lymes last year even though he gets frontline every month 😦 He also was treated right away and I haven’t noticed any problems since.

    • Mel
      April 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      Thank good ness Sara. Jasper still gets flare ups once in a while, but otherwise seems fine. I guess there are more of us out there huh?

  8. April 25, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Great post. Lyme is becoming very prevalent here in New England, and I also have friends who’s dogs have Lyme. Our vet has always recommended vaccination against it, and we do that. I hate using things like Frontline since they just seem like poisons to me, and I don’t like putting it on my dogs. But we usually do only first thing in the Spring, after we’ve seen the first tick. We don’t see them much after that so we don’t continue to put it on unless we’re seeing a lot. Should we bother if it may not really work, I wonder, or are we just not using it as much as we should? With the two beagles it’s easy to see the ticks on them, but with the golden retrievers almost impossible, until they’ve already been bitten and we feel the bump. ugh, I just hate those nasty little disease carrying critters!

  9. Gia
    April 25, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    It’s a bit strange that we pay so much for this drops and colars, but the dogs are still in danger…and not just the dogs. 😦

  10. April 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I believe my boy got Lymes prior to be rescuing him. He uses Frontline now and gets and annual Lymes shot. I believe Titan’s reoccurring leg lameness is due to Lymes because the vet has be unable to find any other reason for it. Sad to say, our furbabies are just like children….. we can only protect so much. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mel
      April 26, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      I am so sorry Bren. I have been told the Lymes shot is kind of hit or miss, but I am considering it again.

      • April 28, 2013 at 9:01 AM

        I’ve heard the same thing but I figured, why not.

  11. Amy
    April 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Good post. We live in an area with lots of ticks – I have struggled with the decision as to whether or not use chemicals on our dogs. We wouldn’t use them on ourselves, so should we on them? Some of the research I have done suggests that the chemical treatments – advantix, frontline, etc – don’t actually repel ticks, they only kill them after the fact, and that there is no real reduction in risk. I don’t know – I’ve seen other research that says there is, so it is a tough call. What we have decided to do for now is check our dogs daily – fortunately we have short haired dogs. It would clearly be more difficult if they had long haired coats.

    So, for us – Daily combing, daily tick checks, regular baths, good diet for immunity. The constant checking does take more time and work, but I think it’s worth it. As a side note, we also have cats, so i am checking them daily as well….

    • Mel
      April 26, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      I have too Amy. I am checking mine too. I like the daily combing idea for my Shelties. They are the hardest. Daisy is a light colored Lab, so she is much easier. I think you are right, that is just about the only way. Damn ticks!

  12. Debby Betts
    April 25, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    There is a newish spot on on the market called Certifect. This is produced by the makers of Frontline, and they are targetting ticks better. This product kills ticks before they go into mass engorgement (when disease is transferred) and therefore massively reducing risk of disease.
    They (merial) are doing a huge tick awareness project at the monent, so check out their info.

  13. April 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    First time dogowner here, very informative post. didn’t even know about lyme disease…Going to ask my vet to recommend the best option for preventing tics and lyme disease. Thanks

    Come by to visit me as well, started a new blog about my rescue dog and any issues I encounter. Thanks 🙂

  14. CorgiMom
    May 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    One of my dogs got anaplasmosis from a tick last fall, which I caught/got diagnosed early and countered with antibiotics. They both get Frontline from early spring through the fall (we live in New England, where black-legged ticks are everywhere), but I still pull ticks off them every other day or so, even though I check them daily and frequently find fresh ones crawling about. Of course the ones I can spot most easily are the older, bigger ones — even with light-colored dogs it’s almost impossible to find the ones that are still in the nymph stage before they’ve started feeding. I haven’t found any product that claims to kill ticks before they have a chance to attach themselves, and it seems that the topical solutions are more effective against fleas than ticks. Both my dogs are rescues and have some touch sensitivity issues, which makes all of this even more stressful. I keep threatening to move to Newfoundland… 😉

  15. May 2, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Hon, none of the tick preventatives out there are 100% sure fire effective. Using preventive, such as Frontline will dramatically decrease the risk, might even eliminate it 99.99999% but, sadly, nothing in life is 100% guarantee.

  16. May 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Here’s what I’ve been told about it. Frontline does not keep ticks off your dogs, in order for it to work the tick has to bite the dog and then it takes some time to kill the tick. I’ve heard various thoughts about how long a tick needs to be attached before spreading the disease (some say 48 hours and that the Frontline kills them before then) but researchers have been wrong before, no? The deer tick which is typically the one that transmits Lyme (Lyme CT where the disease was discovered is not too far from me) is very tiny. When engorged it looks like a blood blister. I had one on the top of my leg last year. Those ticks are really hard to spot on your dog. I still find my best defense is myself examining my dogs and removing any we find. We do use a natural spray every time we walk them and we have our yard sprayed to help prevent it. I think despite many precautions things still happen. The good thing is you know your dog has it and know what to look for should he have a flare up.

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