Lyme Disease in Dogs

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juliette
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Lyme Disease in Dogs

Post by juliette »

You may have seen this posted on some boards in the past few days. I did go ahead and check with peppertree to make sure it was legit (canine Swiffer deaths anyone?) and they sent me their assurances that it is:
Thank you for writing- and unlike a lot of things that fly around the internet- this is not a hoax. Believe that was Betsy Sommers, Peppertree's President you wrote the e-mail and it was about Mojo a black lab mix... It won't explain all aggression of course, but the pattern is clearly there. So our protocol is to make sure any dog with aggression is tested or re-tested for Lyme to see if that was a root cause.
Sincerely,
David Sawicki
Peppertree Rescue
Permission was granted to cross post this.

We recently had a very strange event that I think we should share around the rescue community: Young (~2 years) male, a Lab mix, came into our
program with a "questionable" background. He may have been aggressive toward some children, maybe not. We kept him for a good long while --- months of fostering in our premier foster home, with no problem -- and placed him carefully, with a single mid-age man who absolutely adored him.

We also, as we do with all our dogs, tested him for Lyme. He had it; we treated it; case closed -- we thought. Everything went very well after adoption -- he was the star of his obedience classes, a frequent alumni visitor to our clinics - for over a year. And truly adored by his adopter.

Then, over a year after placement, Mojo became suddenly, erratically, and seriously aggressive: literally attacked visitors to the home, people
at the vet's waiting room, etc. Terrifying. Very sudden. Totally inexplicable. He was returned to us with genuine heartbreak from a very loving adopter.

Mojo then went to our regular vets and was a totally different dog: bared teeth and growling to anyone who approached his kennel, lunging at
other dogs when being walked, etc. We figured that whatever was happening with him, he had become unplaceable and started a TDC (Tough
Decisions Committee - something we "convene" and that is open to anyone with an interest in the dog when we think that euthanasia might be an option).

However, someone at the vet's office said that perhaps we should test him for Lyme. Huh???????? They had had a regular client of theirs come in
recently with similar, out of the blue aggression, and it turned out that was the problem - puzzled them, but seemed to be the case. Okay -- hey, we'll try anything -- so we had him tested. He was high positive! Fine, we
started treatment while we continued to figure out what to do with him via the TDC.

Almost immediately, however, once the antibiotics were begun, the Mojo we knew came back!! He was himself again -- bouncy, happy, a bit neurotic, but not at *all* aggressive! The staff at the vet's was amazed, but all confirmed this change.

We didn't believe it; and the veterinarians didn't believe it .... BUT a thorough search of the internet turned up a number of studies and
anectodal observations indicating that in some dogs (and in some humans!!) the primary symptom of their Lyme Disease can be sudden, irrational and serious aggression.

Well, we've known for a while to check the thyroid levels of dogs that show aggression that just "doesn't fit". Now we have added testing
for Lyme as well. And we have --- results not yet in -- another dog that we placed over a year ago who has been returned because of out-of-the-blue aggression ... and he has also tested high positive for Lyme! We've started treatment and will be monitoring his response.

So --- plug this in to your protocols. It's worth checking out. I spent the day today with Mojo ... and he truly is just the same dog we placed over a year ago. (We've let his original adopter know -- because he vowed that it had to be *something* causing this behavior. But he cannot take Mojo back because his roommate, one of the people attacked, won't even consider it. For the record, there were no skin-breaking contacts in any of these attacks, but plenty of fear and we consider them as serioius as if they were full-fledged bites.)

We actually have additional insight into this because one of our volunteers (human) has had Lyme Disease. Took many months for her to be diagnosed, and once she was, she learned that it's a VERY nasty bug that really remains around permanently, waiting for a chance to "crop up"
again. When we place Mojo again (and our TDC unanimously agrees that we should do this), we're going to explain the background, these amazing
events, and require that the adopters have him tested every six months, whether or not he's showing symptoms. We have no idea whether that
will work or be sufficient - we're rather flying blind in this -- but it seems a rational approach.

I'll post again if we learn more from the second dog (also a Lab mix). But based on what we know now, it is a real possibility: Lyme *can*, in a few rare cases, cause aggression, aggression that can be reversed.

Betsy Sommers
Peppertree Rescue -- Albany, NY
www.peppertree.org

Mary Ann
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Post by Mary Ann »

Hunter tested posititve to Lyme last year and went on the antibiotics. SHould he be tested every six months? He has to go in August for his check up. This has me nervous. I was attacked by a large dog two years ago but Hunter has NEVER shown any kind of aggression. Just the opposite. Lots of energy but never aggression.
Mary Ann

juliette
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Post by juliette »

As I understand it, sudden aggression is just one, relatively rare, symptom of Lyme disease in both people and dogs. There are other reasons for aggression of course, as well as other symptoms of Lyme. One thing I got from this notice is that Lyme disease can recur, so it might be a good idea to talk to your vet about having him retested annually or whatever.

Actually, it was after after watching the season finale of Joan of Arcadia last week (in which a character turns out to have Lyme,) that I had already decided to have both my dogs and myself tested! :lol:

Barb Wright
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Post by Barb Wright »

Mary Anne: The problem with testing for Lyme is that if a dog has had a vaccination for it they sometimes show up positive. With the case posited above, MoJo, it could just as well have been other vaccines that were the culprit. I think this is a case of wait and see, need more info. However, there is a very good lesson in this anecdote....if your dog *suddenly* exhibits unusual behaviour, off to the vet for a total physical and complete blood tests, for there is the highest probability that the change is a health related manisfestation.

Here is some brief info (paraphrase and direct quote) from "Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats" by Catherine J.M. Diodati, MA:

....... do not think you must/should get your dog vaccinated against Lyme, especially if you do not live in a Lyme area. The vaccine has been known to cause Lyme disease according to
"Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats by Catherine J.M. Diodati, MA
To paraphrase her further, the vaccine can also cause other "adverse reactions" as well, and ....."Lyme vaccines have a very poor track record".....for preventing the disease. There are a multitude of credible sources that support this information.

If you do the blood test it should be for resistance/immunity level rather than for the disease itself, unless he is exhibiting symptoms of the disease. The antibiotic treatment is usual if the disease is present. Don't let this report panic you, as long as Hunter feels good there is no need to "do anything", if he shows signs of illness, well then, off to the vet.

Hope this helps allay your worries a little.

Jen
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Post by Jen »

Mary Ann,

You might want to check with your vet and see if they offer the 3 in one test. It tests for Lymes,Heartworm& E.Canis. My vet offers it and it is only a few dollars more than the heartworm alone test. Since I don't give the lymes vaccs it is a good way for me to have my dogs checked each year without an extra needle stick. Just a though.

Jen

DonnaP
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Lyme Disease and Aggression

Post by DonnaP »

I received that posting thru a local rescue group and saw my springer Bentley in it! He, when adopted, seemed to be a perfectly normal adjusted dog and did well with other people - he was super with small children and babies and I never had to fear something bad would happen

Bentley did develop severe unexplained agression symptoms similar to those described in this posting. He has also developed a manifestation of lameness in his hind left quarter

When I adopted him he had regularly gotten a Lyme vacination. Two years ago (at age 6) after getting his yearly lyme shot he nearly died - he woke in the middle of the night screaming in pain, his eyes glazed, could not get up. It was touch and go for several days. Needless to say, neither of my guys get the shot any more

Lyme disease is so hard to pinpoint - you can have it without it showing up on the test, you can test positive when you don't have it. I was particularly grateful to see there is now a correlation with lyme and sudden aggression and I hope that this can point us towards a cure for Bentley :P

We are continuing the nightly tick ritual - thankfully mostly dog ticks in our yard but we are often in areas of high deer tick infestation and the tick season in the Northeast is predicted to be one of the worst ever this year :shock: :roll:

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