Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They Thought She Had Lyme Disease

A dog came in today that had signs of Lyme and since she had it previously in the past AND the owners had removed a lot of ticks from her in the past few months, it was a reasonable thought.

Dogs that have previously tested positive on the in house Snap test we run, often stay positive on THAT test for a while - even possibly years (it's simply an exposure test). So we generally will send out a blood test called a C6 Quantitive antibody level.  This test gives us a number. Anything >30 on this test tells us we can treat. That test will tell us whether Lyme is the cause of the signs.  However there was some question as to whether we'd do the SNAP again. I felt strongly that we should, simply because it had been > 2yrs since we had done one AND if it wasn't a strong positive, I would probably not treat but wait for the C6 to come back.

Well, what happened was a "dot" on the test came up that I was NOT expecting. It was  the Heartworm positive indicator!!  This dog had NOT been on consistent monthly heartworm prevention and had never left Northeast PA. Now, had she been on consistent prevention AND the dog came up positive, guess what? The manufacturer would've paid for treatment - they guarantee the product!

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here (of course, I would NOT really do that being the animal lover I am) but prevention is better and less expensive and hey, less problematic for the dog. We don't know how long this dog has been harboring heartworms in the chambers of her heart and her pulmonary vessels. The longer they are there - the more damage they do. PLUS, when we kill these off, there is always the chance of more damage, obstructions, blood clots, etc.  I could tell her this - it was infected at least 6 months ago, because we know that from the time of a mosquito bite to the time of the infection being detectable (based on the heartworm life cycle) - it's a minimum of 6 months!


  1. Don't you just hate that. I am an expert at seeing dogs through heartworm treatment. I have had numerous heartworm positive dogs come into foster care. It is so hard to watch a dog that is dying to run and play be crated because an owner didn't give the dog preventative. As my vet has said numerous times any dog down here not on preventative is going to be heartworm positive. And at my vet you can almost give the dog preventative for it's whole life for what heartworm treatment costs. We give preventative every month year round, it isn't worth the risk.

  2. It made me feel sick because the dog is an older pet too - so anything in an older pet can be more complicated. So many Katrina dogs were distributed across the US and the New Orleans area has a 93% positive rate on dogs so the little bags of HW are now all over thanks to good humans AND are ensuring mosquitos in previously HW free or low HW risk areas are going to be carrying the nasty parasites!