Vet calls for routine tests for dogs to track Lyme disease

A Hampton-based veterinarian wants to see routine blood tests for dogs to keep track of Lyme disease in New Brunswick.

Blood test non-invasive, provides quick results

A dog bravely endured Lyme disease testing earlier this month. (Courtesy Elisha Dickinson-Mills)

A Hampton-based veterinarian wants to see routine blood tests for dogs to keep track of Lyme disease in New Brunswick.

Dr. Elisha Dickinson-Mills tested 55 dogs at her clinic on Jan. 11, as part of a research project being conducted by Mount Allison University to see how widespread the disease is.

One of the dogs tested positive for antibodies to Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Borrelia is commonly transmitted to both dogs and humans through tick bites.

"The expected results were within one to two per cent of a sample healthy population, so the results we received were what we expected," said Dickinson-Mills.

"That shows that it exists in our area, that it is important to screen and detect."

Dickinson-Mills says positive results can be found even in dogs not showing any symptoms. So regular testing would give veterinarians a clearer picture of what's going on.

"It allows us to not only detect the condition in the particular pet, it also allows us to keep track of the numbers in our area," she said.

"It is recommended to report all of the positive dogs so that it can be published and veterinarians in the area are aware.  It allows us to keep track of this relatively new disease in our area."

A recent study conducted in New England found that for every six dogs infected, one human also had Lyme disease.

If left untreated, people bitten by an infected tick can develop arthritis, neurological and heart problems.

The blood test for dogs is non-invasive and the results can be determined within about five minutes, said Dickinson-Mills.

There is also a vaccine available to protect dogs against Lyme disease.