Some vets will tell you that dogs don’t get the common bulls-eye rash that humans do when infected with Lyme disease. I’m here to tell you that dogs absolutely do.
Right now, Graidy’s got a beaut of a rash on his inner thigh. His fur is white and very fine, so it’s easy to see down to his skin. (That’s a photo of his bite. Sorry, I couldn’t get a better shot, Graidy wasn’t interested in staying still, but it shows the ring pretty well.) I’ve found them on Wink as well, though, with his thicker fur, they’re not as easy to spot. Whenever I pull any kind of tick off either dog, I always check the area carefully. That’s how I find the bulls-eyes.
Have I mentioned lately that I hate ticks? I HATE TICKS!
Yes, even with Graidy having had the Lyme vaccine, we start the regimen of Doxycycline: 2x a day for one month. What good is the vaccine if dogs can still get infected? The vaccine guards against the severe effects of Lyme. Even with the bulls-eye, Graidy has shown no other symptoms. So why the Doxy? Because the rash means that he was infected. And it’s much easier to eradicate the bacteria before it has a chance to take hold.
While I don’t enjoy giving my dogs drugs (I prefer using natural remedies), I just won’t mess with Lyme. It’s not worth it; especially when it is so easily treatable with antibiotics — and not easily treatable with anything else! I grew up in Connecticut and so many people I know have had Lyme, or have had a family member who’s had Lyme, or a dog who’s had Lyme. So I really know the devastating consequences of untreated Lyme, like chronic arthritic problems and permanent neurological damage — just for starters.
Canine Lyme often presents the same way, and can have the same horrifying progression. While Lyme isn’t known for killing humans, left untreated, it can be a death sentence for a dog. If this sounds melodramatic to you, that tells me you’re still living in an area where Lyme hasn’t become a major problem yet. Enjoy your good fortune.
Okay, back to my treatment regimen: Getting pills down my dogs is easy enough. Being the foodies they are, I need only wave the pill over food, and they gobble them down. Okay, that’s almost true. A smidge of peanut butter on a pill is all that’s needed for both of them to quickly swallow any kind of pill.
At the same time, I put them on probiotics (e.g. Lactobacillus, acidophilus, and bifidum) to prevent the imbalance in the intestinal flora. You could also give 1/2 cup of organic plain yogurt with each meal for the month of antibiotics, and then one month more.
I include an anti-inflammatory as well, like fish oil or borage seed oil. And a good, high potency multivitamin/mineral formula. I like Centrum Silver. If there is any lameness present, I would also include a calcium/magnesium supplement.
Because I also use Frontline, I put them on Milk Thistle for the first week after to help detox their livers.
There are tremendous resources on the web now for holistic health information for dogs. Dr. Pitcairn, Dr. Schoen, and Dr. Goldstein are some of the more well-known holistic vets who’ve written books. And there are lots of places where you can order supplements. I like Natural Rearing, and Only Natural Pet Store; they have a good selection for both dogs and cats. I also like The Wholistic Pet for their joint supplements. If you have a holistic store that you’ve orderd from and like, or you have supplements that you’ve used with good results, please join in and share your information in the comments.
Of course it goes without saying, if your dog has Lyme symptoms, you should consult with your vet, investigate your options, and decide what course of treatment feels right to you.