Know the lifestyle of your clients

Risk Factors

Assess risk factors

Assessing the risk for your clients' exposure to canine Lyme disease is a combination of where you practice, your clients' lifestyle and their overall health. While many dogs are at risk in their own backyards because of where they live, others may have hunting or travel lifestyles to put them at risk. Understanding the exposure risk in your local area is critical.

The breed is not an important risk factor. Big or small, couch potatoes or hunting dogs, any dog can be at risk. Whenever and wherever dogs come in close contact with infected ticks from wildlife areas where mice and deer live, there is risk of exposure to Lyme disease. Determining all possible risk factors will help you develop a comprehensive prevention plan in your practice.

Geography is the No. 1 risk factor for canine Lyme disease

The area where the dog lives or travels is the most important predictor and risk factor for contracting canine Lyme disease. Determining if the dogs in your practice live in endemic, expansion or isolated canine Lyme disease areas is important in the diagnosis and is the first step in a comprehensive preventive plan.

What is the Lyme disease risk to your patients?

map
Geographic area Disease threat Know the facts What you can do
Endemic Infected tick population well established, putting most dogs at constant risk
  • Three-quarters of human cases are contracted during activities around the home 3
  • Nearly 75 percent of unvaccinated dogs in this area will eventually test positive, and each year some will develop Lyme disease 3
Be proactive! Lyme disease is in your own backyard.

  • Routinely test dogs for Lyme disease
  • Routinely vaccinate dogs
  • Include a Lyme vaccine in your puppy vaccination protocols
  • Use a multi-Osp vaccine for broad-spectrum protection
Expansion Infected ticks increasing, putting dogs at risk based on lifestyle and geography
  • Lyme disease may be found in wildlife corridors/ecosystems where deer live in urban and suburban areas
  • Serious Lyme disease infections can cause significant musculoskeletal, cardiac and renal problems
  • Clinical signs can be confused with many other diseases
Know the risk. Test and vaccinate your patients.

  • Risk-assess all dogs for exposure to wildlife corridors and ecosystems
  • Test at-risk dogs or dogs being evaluated for musculoskeletal concerns
  • Test dogs presenting with non-specific clinical signs such as fever, lethargy, swollen joints or limping
  • Routinely vaccinate at-risk patients and those traveling to expansion or endemic areas
  • Use a multi- Osp vaccine for broad-spectrum protection
Isolated Infected ticks have been introduced to the area (likely by migratory birds) but populations are not established
  • Lyme disease may be found in wildlife corridors/ecosystems where deer live in urban and suburban areas
  • Dogs in these areas can be sentinels for Lyme disease in people
  • Serious Lyme disease infections can cause significant musculoskeletal, cardiac and renal problems
  • Clinical signs can be confused with many other diseases
Become aware. Pick a population. Start testing and vaccinating.

  • Be aware of any human or canine cases
  • Test at-risk populations - Dogs brought into wildlife corridors and ecosystems
  • Routinely vaccinate at-risk patients and those traveling to expansion or endemic areas
  • Use a multi-Osp vaccine for broad-spectrum protection

Ask pet owners these risk assessment questions during an annual exam

  • Have you found a tick on your dog or yourself?
  • Does the dog live in an endemic area for canine Lyme disease?
  • Does your dog travel with you to canine Lyme endemic areas?
  • Does your dog live in suburban home next to wildlife areas?
  • Is your dog's yard surrounded by tall brush?
  • Does your dog go walking, hiking, picnicing, fishing or camping in wooded areas?
  • How much time per day does your dog stay outside in the backyard?

Time dogs spend outside

Asking clients how much time their dogs spend outside during a typical day is important, because most pet owners are unaware that this is a high risk factor for canine Lyme disease in many areas of the United States.

Results of a study show: 15

  • Four of 10 dog owners let their dogs out less than one hour a day
  • Nearly as many (36 percent) let their dogs out "a couple of hours" each day
  • Two of 10 let their dogs out most of the day (20%)
  • 14 percent let their dogs out all day

In endemic areas, three-quarters of human cases are contracted during activities around the home. 3 Just imagine how much greater the threat is to dogs that typically spend much more time outside in the backyard than their owners. Dogs in endemic and expansion areas and whose backyards are surrounded by tall brush and wildlife are especially at high risk for coming in contact with ticks.

Ixodes scapularis nymphs are frequently found along the edges of forests and spill out onto adjacent vegetation and lawns in suburban settings. 5

Know the facts

  • Lyme-positive dogs have been identified in 48 contiguous states 3 and throughout Canada
  • 50 percent of dogs in endemic areas are infected with Lyme burgdorferi 4
  • Tick-borne diseases accounted for nearly half of pet insurance infectious disease claims in 2007 and claims for canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis increased 62 percent from 2006 to 2007 12
  • Canine Lyme disease is largely preventable through a comprehensive tick-borne disease prevention program, including Lyme disease vaccination/li>

Talk to your clients about their dog's risk factors and about vaccinating with a Lyme vaccine.

Stay current about the incidence of Lyme disease in your area

Veterinary professionals need to be informed and up-to-date about Lyme disease in their clinic's area. The best way to gain knowledge is to begin a testing program to determine the level of exposure in your practice area. Checking with the Public Health Agency of Canada may be helpful. Visit for more information.

Lyme disease
has been
found in all 10
Canadian
provinces
The threat of Lyme disease is probably greater in dogs than in humans
Dogs will often show no signs of Lyme disease
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