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.