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Friday, I took Rachel (the Wild Child) in for her annual exam; everything was good. Early Saturday AM, the vet emailed me that she'd tested positive for Lyme disease (negative for HW, Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis via SNAP test; she was negative for all four a year ago). She's not symptomatic (insofar as we could tell --- except see below) and no behavioral changes that I've observed.

Vet suggested drawing a fresh sample (at some undetermined point in the future; "no rush"), sending it off and having the lab check for an active infection. He's not anxious to put her on antibiotics (doxy) immediately, unless I say otherwise. While I understand and might otherwise agree with his thinking w/re overuse of antibiotics, philosophical considerations fly right out the window when it's my dog. ;).

Big headache for me is that I've not encountered Lyme disease before (human or canine), so I'm operating at a disadvantage. I spent the weekend reading everything I could find and now I've got questions for members who've dealt with this.

1. Can anyone point me to published data on the SNAP test? I'm particularly interested in finding out about sensitivity indices, rates of false positives and negatives, etc. So far, I've located lots of advertising, but little hard data. Very annoying!

2. What is the likelihood that Rachel's subclinical now rather than asymptomic? If it's possible that she's subclinical would it be wiser to start antibiotics now --- before getting a retest and possibly confirming an active infection? She's not limping, off her food, or otherwise altered. Nor did she show any joint or abdominal tenderness/sensitivity during her physical. The only thing that I've noticed is that she's been generally itchy and licking her paws a lot lately (past month or so). I checked them over very carefully, several times, and haven't seen anything amiss, so I put it down to an allergic reaction. You'd think we were in Seattle with the rain we've had this year.

3. What's a sensible time frame between first and second testing? Two days? A month? Several months? What literature I could locate on retesting is pretty opaque and inconsistent when it's not. Some suggest waiting several months for an asymptomatic dog, others recommend a shorter time frame (several weeks).

4. As to the retesting, what test would forum members recommend -- the C6 or the Cornell Multiplex, and why?

5. One of the things that most concerns me about Lyme is the possibility/likelihood of kidney and liver damage. I've read several suggestions to (a) assay kidney and liver function now (to establish a baseline, I imagine) and (b) homeopathically detox the dog before and/or during treatment. What do members think of that approach and, if deemed sensible, how would one go about detoxing?

5a. Related to the above question, can anyone recommend a homeopathic vet in the DC area? My vet's very good clinically, has a great touch w/animals (even the Wild Child likes him) and is very responsive with me. Unfortunately, homeopathy isn't his strong suit, which he'd probably admit himself. Well, one can't have everything, although he is cute ...

6. If you've experienced Lyme disease with one or more of your dogs, what treatment protocol did you follow and what were the results? Anything that you would do differently?

My apologies for the length of this, I've had to do a crash course in tick borne diseases. I'll be pithier in the future.

Many thanks,

Aly
 

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I've had numerous dogs test positive for Lyme, in spite of meticulous/religious use of different preventatives from my vet, attempts at environmental control (both chemical and otherwise), etc. I've done a lot of reading, and talked to a number of vets, but haven't formed conclusive opinions on a lot of your questions.... though I wish it were more black and white. I've resigned myself to the fact that my lifestyle and my environment are high risk.

6. If you've experienced Lyme disease with one or more of your dogs, what treatment protocol did you follow and what were the results? Anything that you would do differently?
I treated with 30 days of Doxy, which I don't regret.

My 9.5 year old GSD came up Lyme positive on her pre-spay blood work back when she was around 2 (that was fun). Treated with full course of Doxy. She has not displayed any symptoms of Lyme or abnormal blood work, and it has been over 7 years since treatment. Now that she's heading into her senior years, I've been watching her more critically for things that may fall outside the realm of normal age and arthritis. I had her hips and spine re-Xrayed a while back, to prevent guesswork and blaming any future symptoms on the wrong cause. The more you know, the less you guess (in theory).

I try not to go off the deep end and drown in the sea of "THOU SHALT FEED THINE GERMAN SHEPHERD THE PERFECT 3,285 INGREDIENT INTERNET-APPROVED DIET OF UTMOST PURITY".... but I do make a point to feed a rotation of different food, with a good deal of it being fresh/whole. I've been fortunate that none of my dogs (present or past) have had negative reactions to antibiotics.

Positive Lyme results are really common in my local dog network (especially among my friends who own hunting/working dogs). In spite of using preventatives. It's very frustrating.
 

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I did the full 30 days on mine when she had it too. She was also young when she had it, but has never tested positive again or had any further issues.

She is 11 1/2 now and has had tons of bloodwork done in the past 2 years and it's all totally normal. She moves like a dog half her age, still.
 

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I've had this discussion with my vet. He said there are two schools of thought...

positive test but not active so don't treat.

Positive test but not active and treat.

He's in the second primarily for one reason....if that active infection becomes active and causes kidney failure then it's game over.

Another vet, who teaches at Cornell, will treat until the antibodies show at an inactive level and then vaccinate with the Nobivac Lyme vaccine. The foremost person studying Lyme's was at Cornell (until someone offered him lots of money) so the Vet had the latest information.

My BIL almost died from Lyme's. I don't mess around with that. I would treat.
 

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To add to what Jax posted -

If you do some reading on the Lyme vaccine, there are those who assert that vaccinating a dog that has *already* tested Lyme-positive is potentially dealing the kidneys a double blow. There are a number of vets who are strongly against vaccinating Lyme-positive dogs. And there are others with the reverse opinion.
 

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To add to what Jax posted -

If you do some reading on the Lyme vaccine, there are those who assert that vaccinating a dog that has *already* tested Lyme-positive is potentially dealing the kidneys a double blow. There are a number of vets who are strongly against vaccinating Lyme-positive dogs. And there are others with the reverse opinion.
Are those people medical professionals? I would be interested in the studies if they are out there. Dr. O vaccinates after the infection is inactive because there are studies showing the vaccine helps kill off any spirochetes hiding and helps prevents an active flare up. But that was a few years ago and it's ever changing.
 

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Thanks so much, everyone, for the very quick and helpful responses; it's the kind of personal experience that I'm lacking and sorely needed. @cloudpump, thanks so much for the link; I hadn't seen that one. Bedtime reading for tonight.
@WIBackpacker, yes, I read through several articles discussing the (dubious) merits of vaccinating Lyme positive dogs. That's a nonstarter as far as I'm concerned; the logic for doing so simply wasn't convincing. You are SO right about the frustrating nature of all this. I'm in the city, but have access to 40 wooded acres two blocks away (inhabited by deer, foxes, etc) and a large field, 2 blocks away, in the opposite direction. We cruise through one or the other several times a week. Because of that, I'm pretty religious about preventatives, vaccines, checking for ticks, etc. And yet here we are.
@Cowboysgirl and @WIBackpacker, that's really good to hear. Sounds like your girls were both about the same age that Rachel is now. I like positive outcomes.:)
@Jax08, I'm really leaning toward your vet's opinion about starting antibiotics now. Basically, the possibility that she might be subclinical concerns me.

Thanks again,

Aly
 

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Are those people medical professionals? I would be interested in the studies if they are out there. .
Not to speak for @WIBackpacker, but the articles that I've seen, while authored by vets, are opinion pieces. I've not seen any studies on the issue, as yet; I'll post links if/when I run across any.
 

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Aly, SNAP tests are IDEXX's (I think they hold the SNAP trademark for in-clinic tests). IDEXX claims they provide reference-lab quality results -- their page has links to papers on them:

https://www.idexx.com/en/veterinary/snap-tests/snap-4dx-plus-test/


I've not had to treat Lyme since we don't have it, but I've done a lot of month-long rounds of Doxy for HW. Most dogs tolerate it very well. FWIW, you can order it from Wedgwood Compounding Pharmacy in NJ in any dose you want, in a chicken-flavored wafer, at a much lower cost than filling it at a regular pharmacy. For example, if your dog needs 200 mg per dose twice daily, your vet can order you a wafer that's 400 mg, so you can easily give half in the AM and half in the PM. Your vet has to call them -- I think a month's supply costs in the neighborhood of $35 per dog. The 400 mg "quad tabs" are scored in quarters to make them very easy to cut. They also make chew treats with up to 350 mg. each. It's SO much easier than fooling with lots of little 100mg capsules!

https://www.wedgewoodpetrx.com/veterinary-practices/
 

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Who is Dr. O, @Jax08?
The vet that teaches at Cornell who has access to the Lyme's researcher and latest info.

My understanding of Lyme's is that the Doxy kills part of the spirochetes but the remaining form cysts to "hide" from the abx. When the body is under stress, the cysts will burst.

Many people I know have had success with a combination of western medicine and herbals.
 

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@Magwart, thanks for the info on the SNAP test --- don't know how I missed those tabs. Thanks too for the info about the compounding pharmacy in NJ. Did a little survey of local prices for doxy early this AM and was appalled. Woke me right up. ;)

Aly
 

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Who is Dr. O, @Jax08?
The vet that teaches at Cornell who has access to the Lyme's researcher and latest info.

My understanding of Lyme's is that the Doxy kills part of the spirochetes but the remaining form cysts to "hide" from the abx. When the body is under stress, the cysts will burst.

Many people I know have had success with a combination of western medicine and herbals.
 

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Hello! So m ch information out there in regards to Lyme and they all conflict. Which makes it hard to figure out what's best.

I am a registered vet tech in the D.C. Area and here are my thoughts.

If she is not clinical, do the C6. Get an actuL number. It can generally tell if you are dealing with an active infection. If the number shows an active infection, but she is subclinical,don't treat, but retest with another C6 in 3-4 weeks. If the numbers go down, good. Your pup is fighting it off. If they stay the save or rise, treat with Doxy fir 30 days.

This is the treatment my internal medicine Dr recommended when my vet(a cardiologist) dog tested positive on the snap.

His dog was normal on the retest. So no treatment.

I don't like to mess with Lyme. I have personally seen dogs from Lyme induced kidney failure. But I think that you can use what is available to see if treatment is needed.

As for holistic vets, I know a few in MoCo MD. Let me know if that's not too far for you. Also my favorite vet in the world works for a great practice in DC and she is awesome with GSD. So if you want a second opinion let me know.
 
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Are those people medical professionals? I would be interested in the studies if they are out there. Dr. O vaccinates after the infection is inactive because there are studies showing the vaccine helps kill off any spirochetes hiding and helps prevents an active flare up. But that was a few years ago and it's ever changing.
It's dry reading (pour yourself a cup of coffee before digging in) but this is something worth a read. I don't think it's black and white, and it doesn't provide yes/no, but it is based on research.

Look below Table 1. OspA / etc.

OspA is in all vaccine types
# OspA is proinflammatory
# OspA sensitizes
# OspA in human chronic Lyme arthritis
# OspA in Lyme nephropathy
OspA was found in the renal cortex of dogs with Lyme nephropathy

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2006.tb02880.x
 

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This is an older clinical study that you might find interesting and somewhat helpful if you haven't read it already. https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/181/3/1069/908787

This is just food for thought. I would ask to have further testing done now to verify if it is an active infection before starting the antibiotic course. or at least have the blood drawn and sent and then start the course. This way, while on the course of antibiotics, at least you will know for certain during the course if it is an active infection.

It's just a thought and it won't leave you wondering with what ifs.

My boy has come up positive/active and we've done the Doxy course also.
 
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Hello! So m ch information out there in regards to Lyme and they all conflict. Which makes it hard to figure out what's best.
Boy is that ever the truth! Thanks, @gsdsar, for your thoughts and the suggested protocol. I'll be talking to my vet tomorrow, so will go over that option with him. MoCo is 20 minutes from me, so yes please send on those names! And, I would like the name of the terrific vet that you mentioned. Thanks again.

Aly
 
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