Katana Update 7/12/17


So I decided to make the update on Katana more personal by only putting it on the blog. I didn’t really feel comfortable putting it on blast over Facebook. 

So the appointment was a success in the sense that we most likely pin pointed the problem with Katana. We did a physical examination, urinalysis, blood work, fecal, etc…

Well, Katana has Lyme disease, and while 90% of dogs never experience any kind of negative effects whatsoever from the disease; some of the behaviors she was exhibiting on trail were consistent with some of the symptoms. Her vet said there’s a good chance it may have been other factors unrelated to the Lyme Disease that caused her behavior (since she’s been back to normal and not showing any outward signs), but to be on the safe side we’re going to put her on a month’s cycle of Doxycycline, which will put the Lyme into remission (if it is in fact the Lyme that’s affecting her). 

I didn’t exactly know how to break this news, or even if I wanted to break it; but everyone has been so worried, I figured I owed everyone an update. I blame myself of course, but I suppose it’s really not all too uncommon for dogs that have been to the sorts of places katana has been. Still, I feel an unreal amount of guilt. 

So I dunno. She was more or less back to normal for the entire two days that I was home, but she’ll still be on daily antibiotics for the next month. Depending on what kind of progress report my parent’s give me a month from now, as well as what the trail is looking like where I’m at a month from now…there is still hope for her joining me. There is no reason in the world for the Lyme to slow her down after this powerful bout of antibiotics (if indeed it is the Lyme). Best case scenario is she goes totally back to normal and resumes trail life with me. Worst case scenario is she acts the exact same way, most likely ruling out the Lyme and confirming that perhaps she just no longer wants to hike. We’ll figure it out one way or another. 

Before heading out I decided to spoil Katana a little bit, or at least give my parent’s the means to really spoil her while I’m gone. I spent around $150 on a new dog bed fit for a queen, as well as a ton of healthy dog treats and femur bones to be periodically gifted to her. She should be on cloud nine for at least a few months. 

So I left out today in the late morning, more or less still exhausted. I drove a couple hours, then got sleepy, pulled over and slept in an Arbys parking lot for a couple hours. Didn’t make it too far today; stopped in northern Mississippi for a full night’s sleep so I can do 14 or 15 hours tomorrow. The further I get tomorrow, then the earlier I can get into Great Falls the next day. I’m not looking forward to dealing with the cracked windshield and footing that bill. 

My mother tried to talk me out of going back to the trail, and instead waiting to do it next year with my girlfriend so I wouldn’t be alone; that, or skipping ahead to wherever Schweppes is. No can do. The first would feel too much like quitting, and the second would feel too much like cheating. You have to stay true to the thru.

That’s about all I got for updates on Katana, as well as my drive back to the trail. I’ll make another post and update you all before I hit the trail again. There’s no telling what lies in store over the next 1,800 miles of driving; maybe I can put some more cracks in the windshield, chips in the paint, or lose a bumper altogether…the sky is the limit. 

I’ll leave you all with some info on Lyme Disease in canines. Take heed if you’re a dog owner in bad tick areas…

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?

The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs differ from those in people, and usually occur much later after the tick bite. Clinical illness in dogs usually occurs 2 to 5 months after a bite from an infected tick. Cats can develop Lyme disease, but it occurs rarely in them, even in endemic areas. Other domestic animals such as horses have contracted Lyme disease, but it does not appear to be a significant problem. Dogs show several different forms of the disease, but by far, the most common symptoms are a fever of between 103 and 105°, lameness, swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
Although not common, some dogs have developed severe progressive kidney disease as sequelae to Lyme disease. This severe kidney failure is difficult to treat and may result in death of the dog. It is recommended that a dog with a positive Lyme antibody test have additional blood tests and a urinalysis to assess kidney function. Some dogs may also develop heart problems or nervous system disease after being infected with B. burgdorferi.

Dogs do not develop the typical rash or the circular area of redness around the bite (erythema migrans) which is seen in people.

How is Lyme disease in dogs diagnosed?

Four Criteria For Diagnosing Canine Lyme Disease
History of tick exposure

Typical signs and symptoms

Antibodies against B. burgdorferi

Prompt response to antibiotics

Blood tests are available to assist in the diagnosis of Lyme disease. The standard blood test detects antibodies made by the dog in response to infection with B. burgdorferi. Many dogs show positive test results, but are not actually infected with the disease. These animals have been exposed to the organism, but fought off the infection on their own. These animals will have antibodies to B. burgdorferi but not have the disease. Thus a single positive result means only that the dog was exposed. As mentioned earlier, only around 10% of the exposed dogs actually contract the infection.

The ‘C6 antibody test’ can distinguish between antibodies made as a result of exposure and those produced as a result of vaccination against Lyme disease. This simple test can be run in a veterinarian’s office. As with the other antibody tests, however, the C6 test will not distinguish between exposure to Borrelia and actual infection.

Tests results must always be interpreted in combination with other information to obtain the correct diagnosis. Suspected animals should have a history of tick exposure, compatible clinical signs, and have a rapid response to antibiotic therapy. If an animal that is suspected of having Lyme disease does not clinically improve within 48 hours of starting antibiotic therapy, it is best to assume that it is not Lyme disease and other diagnostic tests would need to be done to find the source of the problem.

How is Lyme disease in dogs treated?

Treatment for Lyme disease is very straightforward and consists of using either a tetracycline or penicillin-based antibiotic. The two most commonly used are oral doxycycline or amoxicillin. A recent study showed that both antibiotics worked equally well. The antibiotics must be given a minimum of 14 days, but 30 days is recommended. However, some preliminary studies show that some animals may not even clear the organism after 30 days and will relapse once the antibiotic is discontinued. In these cases, the animal may have to be on the antibiotic for much longer. It appears that many animals may never completely rid themselves of B. burgdorferi despite antibiotic treatment. These animals may never show any further signs of the disease. Despite the fact that some animals may develop chronic infections, the vast majority of infected dogs respond rapidly and satisfactorily to doxycycline treatment. In some animals with severe arthritis, pain relievers may also be used in addition to antibiotics. The use of steroids in this disease is definitely contraindicated.

How is Lyme disease prevented in dogs?

Lyme disease is best prevented through tick control and vaccination.

Prevention of Lyme disease involves the use of vaccination and tick control programs. Dogs who were infected once with B. burgdorferi can become reinfected, so they too need protection.
Vaccination: There are whole-cell killed vaccines on the market including Lymevax® by Fort Dodge and Galaxy® Lyme by Schering-Plough. Recombinant vaccines, such as Recombitek® Lyme by Merial and ProLyme® and ContinuumTM Lyme by Intervet, are also available.

Some veterinarians have criticized the ineffectiveness of the Lyme vaccines and do not recommend their use. Although many dogs have been vaccinated and treated for Lyme disease, some vaccinated animals contract the disease, but it appears that vaccinated animals are less likely to contract the disease than unvaccinated animals. Vaccinations can be started after 12 weeks of age and it is recommended that two doses be given three weeks apart, then boostered yearly after that. Because of the inherent problems of over-vaccination, it is recommended that only dogs that are exposed to ticks in areas where Lyme disease is a problem be vaccinated.


  1. I’ve read your books but I didnt know about the blog till now so Im binge reading! As soon as you started talking about Katana not being herself, I knew it was Lyme- My dog had it. It’s a bugger of a disease- Im glad you got her home and on the doxy! Thanks for sharing your journey and keep on keepin on! Following Dixie’s journey as well!

  2. Don’t feel guilty. Your dog is living the life on these adventures with you and you handled everything properly getting her the care she needed. I live in Pennsylvania and Lyme disease is very prevalent here. I have many friends who’s dogs have gotten ticks and contracted Lyme from their own back yards. Best wishes and happy hiking.

  3. Best of luck to you! Keep on keepin’ on….Katana looks so comfy and will be well taken care of. One feet in the front of the other…share you journey with of all of us…we’re right there with you! You are so inspire wonderful adventure’s! Take care and keep us updated on Katana too!

  4. When I read what happened with Katana, I thought I bet she has Lyme disease. Both my dogs have it and were treated appropriately. I have personally researched Lyme disease but other than just what you posted no one really knows what all it is responsible for. One of my dogs is completely normal while the other is now heat intolerant. He acts just like you described Katana when she came off the trail. Hopefully she recovers but what I am finding out that when a person or animal has a serious affliction of Lyme disease the damage is permanent. We still have great hiking in cool weather but hot conditions are out for us. Its been 2 years now and this nasty disease made my dog old over night. You should have yourself checked also. Best of luck to you!

  5. I’m so happy Katana is better. I hope you got back on trail. Ive recently bought your book on th AT…… I love your adventures…am living it through you. Hope to see you soon.

  6. Been there as well. Two of my dogs, one being my full time hiking buddy, caught ehrlichiosis from ticks. Total fluke that we caught it. Cost me a small fortune to keep them alive. Now we use topical and edible flea/tick meds alternating every two weeks. I am sure some will say we are risking cancer but that is a maybe and I already know tick borne diseases will kill them for sure. Anyway, just wanted let you know there are those that have been there before and feel your pain. Hopefully after a month of meds (we used the same one for ehrlichiosis by the way) Katana will be able to rejoin you. I know I feel guilty when I don’t have my buddy with me. Anyway, cheers and happy hiking.

  7. So happy your baby is on meds and being spoiled. Can’t wait until I can see you and Jessica together again. I guess parents just worry too much ❤️

  8. My dog also had lyme. I first noticed the symptoms when he was having trouble getting through a very short 6 mile hike. The doxy did clear it right up but he had to be retested in 3 months to make sure he was totally clear. Even if Katana seems better after treatment I would wait to make her do anything to strenuous until after the retest. Ticks are a bummer but the fear mongering around ticks is waym ore of a bummer to me. I look for ticks on myself or my dogs but I don’t go crazy and it doesn’t change where I choose to go or what I do. My dogs are all tested once a year for lyme at their regular yearly vet appointment.

  9. Don’t beat yourself up! You’re an awesome Cat Fox dad!! Praying for her recovery and praying for your safety getting back to the trail and out on the trail.

  10. Glad to hear your girl is doing better! I must say, you are an amazing dog dad!!! I so look forward to reading about the rest of your journey. Be safe & enjoy!

  11. Bless both of you! Just remember this too is part of your joint adventure (just not the best part). Remember always that Katana does what she does because of what you both love…..being with each other. I’m so glad for you that you recognized and acted early. Have safe travels back to the trail and enjoy your adventure. Thank you too for taking the time to share with us.

  12. As one who always tries to see the good, I am so glad that Katana has had the dog’s life she has had with her soul human. Also I am so relieved that you have a potential diagnosis that is treatable. We can’t always protect our dogs (or our children) from threats in the world, especially while encouraging living life loudly and fully but when the challenges present, it is so reassuring to know that Katana and you are surrounded by love and caring.

  13. Kyle, I am new to following you and Katana after I started following Dixie on her PCT journey. I wish all of you, including your parents, the very best. Please reach out to your loyal followers if you need help again. Maybe a gofundme account for travel expenses, car rental, vet bills, etc should be considered. I am sure we would all chip in.

  14. Thank you for the update! So happy to see that Katana is doing well. She will miss you I’m sure, but she looks comfy and happy. You did the right thing and should not feel guilty at all. I had Lyme Disease and its no fun! I fully recovered and I’m back to hiking. 🙂 Enjoy your hike, but take precautions.

  15. Good Grief, Katana and Kyle!…..My prayers are for you two and also Schweppes, your Mom and Dad!…..You will be alone for awhile on the trail but never in spirit, thoughts and prayers!…..So good to see what you have done and are doing for Katana!…..We will be looking for your notes and pics on the trail!

  16. Thank you for the update. I’m glad Katana is feeling better. I had Lyme Disease a few years ago and had some of the same symptoms, plus some paralysis in my face that went away after I started treatment. It’s good that she was tested and she’s being treated. You did the right thing! I fully recovered and I’m back to hiking with no problems. Take care of yourself and be careful to check for ticks. Lyme Disease is serious stuff!! Good luck with your adventures. I love reading your blog! 🙂

  17. Thank you for considering all our angst here in the blog. FB can definitely bring out the trolls at times of adversity and you And Katana only need positive support. I live in the forest. With natural risks to my pup. I would never trade this life for her. All the risks are worth this. THIS is a dogs life. A life we wish all dogs could have. Katana is safe. YOU be safe in your solo hike. We will all be watching and waiting for every update. Not that we weren’t already. 🙂

  18. I’m glad to see the update! It’s weird I have become so vested in your journey! Your sweet dog will do great with your parents. She looks so dang happy in her new bed. I’m sure she will miss you! I’m rooting for you and thank you for taking us all along on your journey!

  19. Glad to hear Katana is on the mend! What an adventure! Look forward to reading about you hike and reunion with Katana. Safe travels and remember everything happens for a reason!

  20. Thanks for sharing the news about Katana. To hopefully put some fears about the Lyme’s to rest, our German Shepard contracted Lyme when we lived in northern WI when she was 3. The vet did annual blood work to check the Lyme levels. Over her 14 years with us, she was on the Doxy 3 different times. She always came out on top and lived a happy, long life with us. Wishing you the best as you continue your hike!

  21. This actually is a relief in a way….not the glaucoma, thank goodness. My dog (Frodo) also had Lyme disease. He acted exactly how you described Katana when I would take him on a hike. In fact, he would sometimes just plain sit in the middle of the trail and not move. I would have to pick him up and carry him. Thankfully, he only weighs 12 pounds. He was treated with the course of doxycycline and is now perfect!!!! There are ticks absolutely everywhere and truly almost impossible to avoid, so don’t beat yourself up. The good news is, perhaps once she is over the initial phase, she will want to hike again…positive thoughts. Thank you for updating…I was actually getting worried.

  22. Thanks for the update. She’s in good hands and hopefully she’ll recover completely. Be careful you don’t get it on the trail as well!! I have many family members whose lives have been affected by those disgusting ticks. Good luck and be safe out there!

  23. What? Guilty? You have given your pup the life dogs dream of having! Running free for months on end, sleeping outside with the human they love, simply being free. And your love and devotion and commitment to your 4 legged friend is beyond admiration.
    Hike on, Dude!!

  24. I’ve had this disease, and I suspect my Old Girl Ginger had it also. Tennessee is infested with ticks. Good news, if it is the root of her problem, she’ll be fine as the vet said. Bad news, if she just doesn’t want to hike, we’ll all miss her adventures with you.

  25. Don’t beat yourself up about the Lymes. I have friends that have had it, their dogs and horses as well. The vaccine is very questionable as to being effective so no guRNtees even if you do it. Best wishes to you both.

  26. Thank you so much for this update! I was behind on reading your blog, and when Herb told me about Katana today, it was all I could do not to cry. But I am so relieved that she is okay. I do not for one minute believe that she doesn’t wish to hike any more. I think that she will be back on trail with you as soon as she has some recovery time … IF she doesn’t get too spoiled by the Princess Bed and the loving attention of the grandparents! 😀 Keep safe and hike happy, dear Kyle! Hugs to you and Katana!

  27. Thank you for the update. I agree with others that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Focus on how much fun she has had on the trails with you. She’s been able to live the life most dogs that are normally confined to a home would dream of. Sending good vibes for a speedy recovery, smooth trip back, and a “gentle” bill for the windshield….

  28. You know what I think about you blaming yourself and I said before you even wrote these words. Things will happen Kyle and we can’t always protect our loved ones from circumstances that are out of our control. She loves to be with you, everybody sees it in that big smile of hers.
    I’m staying positive as I strongly feel that she will be fully recovered soon. I’m with the 90% that never actually contract the disease. All will be well, just believe that it will. Hugs and safe travels

  29. Kyle, you are amazing me – first, seeing that Katana is where she needs to be at this time, second getting back to the trail. Also, I commend you for getting off the sugary stuff and setting yet another goal to see your topside as buff as your bottom side!
    Safe and happy trails!

  30. Glad to hear you got Katana to the Vet and on track to feeling better. Thanks for sharing her health update. Love your blog, pics and videos. Stay safe and enjoy the CDT.

  31. I was wondering if it could be Lyme disease. I didn’t want to say anything before you had her to the vet. My brother had a dog that contracted Lyme and with the antibiotics she was as good as new. Like you said, that may or may not be the issues Katana was having on the trail but , like you said, that’s something that can be determined later. At least now you can rest knowing she’s happy , comfortable and being spoiled 😊. She deserves it, she’s an awesome dog.
    I totally understand where your mother is coming from. She’s worried about you being out there where there seems to be very few other ppl traveling. Maybe Schweppes wlll decide to wait up for you at one of his stops. Be extra cautious out there !

  32. Praying for Katanas recovery Kyle, do not blame yourself brother. Dogs and kids are the most resilient creatures ever created by the all-mighty. Things like this happen all the time in the battlefield and we commonly blame ourselves for the health conditions our 4-legged partners (more like family) go through. These tough times are also part of those great memories that last a lifetime. #leanFORWARD&DOMINATE

  33. Thank you for the update on Katana. I am glad that y’all figured it out. She is so loved. Good luck on your trip back to the trail. Praying for your safe return to the trail!

  34. It’s good to hear you got a diagnosis so you have a positive and productive path forward, both for you and Katana. Your compassion for her is so touching. You have such drive and commitment to your thru-hikes, yet your concern for your pup is a priority. Your reports are actually a great public service for those of us who follow your blog – I’m much more mindful of things to watch out for with my own pupper, who also lives a run through the woods. Good luck on the next leg of your journey. I look forward to your updates.

  35. Thanks for posting the update about Katana and the information about Lyme disease and dogs. Even some vets don’t seem to be aware that some dogs will always test positive after an exposure. Also that some forms of the vaccine will result in the dog always testing positive on some tests in the future. Hope the meds quickly get her back to her normal self and maybe even happily hiking with you on the CDT. She looks pretty content ruling over her present kingdom from her comfy bed. Happy trails to you and thanks for sharing your experiences.

  36. Don’t beat yourself up over the Lyme disease. Chances are she contracted it in the past couple of months – possibly in your own backyard. My dog has Lyme disease. She had it when I bought her and we discovered it when I took her in to the vet for a routine check-up. She went through the antibiotics and just finished a series of shots to prevent future bouts.
    Also of note – *I* have Lyme disease. I got it hiking through the woods near my house. The level of fatigue is like crashing a Mac truck into a brick wall. It does come and go, which would explain Katana’s fatigue at elevation and then acting normal closer to sea level.
    Tick bites are serious business!

  37. So glad she’s been looked at! We’ve all been concerned for her well-being! Keep on keeping on! 😀

  38. Thank you for the Katana update. She is getting treated and will be good as new in a month. She looks comfy in her bed fit for a queen. Safe travels to your trailhead destination. Love the posts.

  39. Don’t be hard on yourself. You take very good care of her. She’s lucky to have you and vice versa. I’m glad you updated us. Travel safe and don’t push yourself too hard.

  40. Thank you for sharing Katana’s health update, I have been keeping her and you in my thoughts. She looks super cozy in her new princess bed! You’re a caring good dad to your little pup. Safe travels back to your CDT hike Kyle. Take care.

  41. So glad you made the decision to get Katana off the trail. The whole time I was reading your blog I thought to myself that dog had Lyme’s. our dog also contracted it earlier this spring and was acting just like you described. He’s just finishing up his 30 day treatment and is feeling much better, I’m sure Katana will be better in no time also. Good luck to you on finishing the trail. I love reading your blog and absolutely love your pictures and videos.

  42. That’s so sad. Both for you and for Katana. But she looks happy in her new bed, and she’s in a good familiar place. I’m sure you’ll miss her like crazy. Safe travels Kyle. Keep on keepin’ on.

  43. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Could have happened anywhere. Did you ever find a tick on Katana or was the vet able to see any evidence of a tick bite? She should be fine with your parents and I wish you the best on the rest of your CDT hike. I will be following your journey, and keep us updated on the status of Katana. Good luck Kyle.

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