Q. My dog is 1.5 years old and was just diagnosed with Lyme disease. He is not showing symptoms yet and he is not on meds yet. Should he be on meds now?
DESTINI R. HOLLOWAY, DVM
A. Lyme disease is an interesting disease process. So most veterinary hospitals/clinics will have a screening snap test for Lyme disease which is detecting for antibodies that the body produces whenever it is exposed to the Lyme disease bacteria. This snap test only tells us if the pet was EXPOSED to lyme disease bacteria and not if the pet is actually sick or infected with lyme disease. It can be confusing to understand this concept; however, if we see that a pet is positive on the screening snap test then we have 1 of 3 options:
1) Treat for Lyme even though no symptoms of lyme- NO longer recommended
2) Treat for Lyme disease if there are symtpoms present (i.e. Lameness, vomiting, etc) - This is rcommended!
3) If no symptoms and want to determine if this is true infection, it is recommended to get a C6 protein test that will determine if there is actually lyme bacteria present in the bloodstream- this test roughly costs about $60-$100 depending on where you live
So with all that said, if he is not showing symptoms then I would be more inclined to have the testing done for peace of mind. This will show if he is truly infected with lyme disease or if he just happened to be exposed to the bacteria but the tick attached did not transmit enough of the organism to cause a true chronic infection.