What you need to know about Lyme Disease

What you need to know about Lyme Disease

Vaccinating Your Dog Against Lyme Disease (1)


If you live in Ohio, Lyme Disease has been a shadow looming over us for a long time. It used to be “just a New England thing”, but now it has crept into our neck of the woods in its never ending march westward. We’ve known it was coming for months – years even. Now it is finally here.


Our job now becomes one of estimating the threat and providing an appropriate response to keep our dogs safe and protected from this disease. This is part of what we as veterinarians do all the time. Due to the costs, and a desire to keep the number of vaccinations as low as possible in every patient, for many months, the opinion of AVC was one of preferring faithful application of tick preventatives over Lyme vaccination. Recently our official stance has changed regarding the Lyme vaccine. Although it is technically not considered a core vaccine, due to finding not one, but two Lyme positive dogs in the past month – we feel that this vaccine needs to be made available to our clients. It is because of these positive dogs that we have starting carrying a small amount of Merial Lyme Vaccine. We are now making the option available to all our dog parents so that they can keep their dogs protected.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • What is Lyme Disease? 

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria that is transmitted via tick bites. It can affect humans, dogs, horses and cattle. Cats typically do not contract Lyme Disease.

  • How do I know if my dog has Lyme Disease? 

The best, most accurate way to detect Lyme Disease is a blood test. At AVC, we use a test called a 4DX that tests for Heartworm Disease, Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. The test uses a small sample of blood, and gives us results in about 10 minutes. We perform this test on our patients yearly to make sure they haven’t been exposed to these diseases over the course of the previous year. Other symptoms of Lyme Disease that you may notice at home are joint pain/lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite, and reduced energy.

  • Is Lyme Disease fatal?

Not usually. However, in a small number of infected dogs, the bacteria can damage the kidneys which can lead to glomerulonephritis, which is nearly always fatal.

  • Is Lyme Disease treatable?

The good news is yes, Lyme Disease is treatable with an extended trial of antibiotics. Not all dogs who test positive for Lyme will develop clinical signs, however, AVC always recommends treating with antibiotics to help prevent the onset of clinical signs, and especially to protect the kidneys from damage. Although antibiotics should always be used judiciously the doctors feel that the potential protection against acute kidney disease and uncomfortable Lyme symptoms warrants the used of extended antibiotics for any Lyme positive dog. Even though Lyme Disease is technically a treatable infection, the best option is always to prevent it in the first place!

  • Is Lyme Disease preventable? 

Thankfully, yes! Lyme Disease can be prevented by vaccination against the bacteria that the ticks carry, by staying consistent with your dog’s tick prevention medications, or you can be extra safe and do both! (Which is what we recommend, especially for dogs with a high exposure risk)

  • Is it effective? 

Yes! The Merial Recombitek Lyme Vaccine was able to protect 100% of the dogs in their study after a severe natural exposure.

  • Is the vaccine safe? What about vaccine reactions?

The specific type of Lyme Vaccine that we chose to carry at AVC is the safest, least reactive vaccine that you can purchase. The Recombitek Lyme is a type of vaccine that does not contain the entire bacteria, but only parts of the proteins that allow it to create immunity, but doesn’t include the extra “junk” proteins that are not needed for immunity, and often those proteins are what cause allergic reactions. Because this is a much cleaner vaccine, it causes far fewer allergic reactions. It is also a non-adjuvanted vaccine, which is by far the safest type of vaccine on the market.

  • How do I get my dog vaccinated? 

For any dog who has never received the Lyme Vaccine, or hasn’t received one within the last 5 years, they will require one temporary vaccine, and a booster 2-3 weeks later. If your dog has had their yearly physical within the last 12 months, and is otherwise up to date on all their regular vaccinations, our veterinary technicians can administer the Lyme vaccine, and they will not require another physical exam.

  • Is it expensive? 

Sadly, the Lyme Vaccine is a bit higher than your dog’s regular vaccines. We won’t lie, the price has been factored into our decision to carry the vaccination in the past, but we feel that at this time we can no longer rely solely on flea and tick preventatives to protect our dogs, and we feel the vaccine is an important part of our defense against this disease. We have tried to price the Lyme Vaccine at the lowest price point we can, and currently it costs $35 per vaccine.

  • Should I vaccinate my dog?

It depends on you and your dog. Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you walk or hike with your dog? Do you live near areas with a high density of trees, or near any fields? Does your dog go outside to potty? If you answered yes, you might want to consider getting your dog protected. Ticks are literally everywhere, and this year we have seen an abnormally high amount of ticks. It is truly a personal decision whether you think your dog should be vaccinated or not, however, we can say that we highly recommend it.

  • Ok, sign me up! How can I schedule my pup? 

This part is simple! You can give us a call at 330-833-3127, or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!


Is Reverse Sneezing Dangerous? – Aquadale Veterinary Clinic (Massillon, Ohio)

Has your dog ever made this funny sound?

Called a reverse sneeze because the dog rapidly inhales air rather than exhaling (such as in a normal sneeze), the episodes can be extremely upsetting because it looks and sounds as if your dog cannot breathe. However, reverse sneezing is a completely normal reflex, although it can occur more often in certain breeds such as brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds like pugs and shih tzus, and also in dolichocephalic (long nosed) breeds such as collies and greyhounds.

Different types of sneezes?

Dogs can have a multitude of spasms and reactions that are all normal bodily processes. Sneezing is usually marked by a rapid exhale through the nose, with the dog’s head moving down and forward – sometimes far enough that their nose can touch the ground. A reverse sneeze is the opposite, the dog’s head moves backwards as they inhale, and you hear the trademark snorting sound.

The reverse sneeze itself is a type of spasm. Officially called a paroxysmal respiration, it occurs when something tickles the soft palate or pharyngeal area. In response:

  • The muscles spasm and the airways can narrow, making it slightly more difficult for your dog to take in air.
  • The dog can stiffen, extend their neck and dramatically “suck” in air through their nose to expand their chest and help clear the offending issue that caused the tickle in the first place. This is also what creates the snorting sound you hear.
  • Typically episodes last from a few seconds to a few minutes, but are harmless. Dogs are usually completely normal before and after a reverse sneeze.

Certain factors can trigger a reverse sneezing episode such as allergies, environmental irritants (perfumes, cleaning solutions, etc), physical irritation caused by pulling against a collar, excitement, and rapid temperature change (going from a warm house out into cold air) among other things.

What can I do if my dog is reverse sneezing? 

There are many suggestions on how to help your dog, some more effective than others. Some things you can try are:

  • Rubbing the bridge of your dogs nose gently.
    • This can help your dog clear any irritants that might have passed through their nasal passages.
  • Covering your dogs nostrils with your hand to make them take in more air through their mouth.
    • This can help stop an episode quickly, but your dog may resume the reverse sneeze once you remove your hand.
  • Get your dog to swallow.
    • This can help by potentially clearing out any irritants that are sitting at the back of the throat and causing the spasm. You can feed your dog, or blow in their nose gently and rub their throat to elicit the swallowing reflex. Just take caution when blowing in your dogs face, some dogs dislike the sensation and can respond with aggression. If you know your dog does not appreciate this, then feed them a handful of kibble and give them a drink of cool water to get them swallowing instead.

The best thing you can do during a reverse sneeze episode is to remain calm. If you get overly anxious your dog could get even more worked up as well. Think calm and soothing thoughts, and try one or more of the above tips for stopping an episode. Even though it can feel like a long time, most attacks only last a few seconds to a minute or so, and reverse sneezing causes no long term damage.

One last thing to note, however, is that reverse sneezing can be a sign of other respiratory ailments. So if you notice your dog is having episodes more often, or they are lasting longer, then it might be a good time to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.

Good luck, and gesundheit!