Marley & Me, a book and then later movie about a mischievous Labrador Retriever and the life lessons he taught his loving owners, was based on a true story. Nine months after the real Marley passed away his owners, the Grogans, brought home Gracie. Gracie, also a Labrador Retriever, was fondly referred to as “the anti-Marley” by her family, due to her calm and shy nature.
Sadly, in his January 18th blog post John Grogan announced that Gracie passed away last week due to complications from Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a tick borne illness. It is caused by a bacteria that is carried and introduced to dogs and other animals most commonly by deer ticks. When a dog is bitten by an infected tick, it can take as long as 5 months, sometimes longer, after the bite for symptoms of Lyme disease to occur. According too an article written by the Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department at Drs. Foster & Smith’s, the most common symptoms found in dogs are fever, lameness, joint swelling, lethargy, loss of appetite, and swollen lymph nodes. Like what happened with Gracie, Lyme disease can sometimes cause kidney disease, which can become fatal.
According to this brochure by Lloyd E. Miller, DVM, Lyme disease is most common in the states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Dr. Miller offers the following advice regarding tick control on domestic animals:
- As much as possible keep animals out of tick habitat.
- Check animals daily for ticks and remove any found promptly.
- Dogs and cats can be brushed as soon as they come in. Brush over a light colored surface so any ticks removed can be seen and discarded.
- The most effective method to protect animals from infection and to keep those that travel from bringing ticks home is the regular use of tick repellent and control products. Permethrin, sold under many brand names, is very effective for tick control. Veterinary assistance is important in selecting safe and effective tick control products and designing a control program.
As New Jersey is on the list of states where Lyme disease is common, many local vets advice to have your pet checked yearly for Lyme disease during his or her yearly health check up. Some versions of dog heart worm tests also test for Lyme disease.
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