George, who died of Lyme Nephritis at 3 years old.

George, who died of Lyme Nephritis at 3 years old.

My George, my velcro dog, died on September 4, 2012, and with his passing, Lyme became my fight.

I thought he was protected with his Lyme shots and with the tick repellent monthly applied. It was not enough, and yes, I failed my boy because of my ignorance of this disease.

What caused Lyme?

A tick, a tick infected with Lyme disease.

These ticks get infected with Lyme when at an early stage of their lives, they meet  WHITE-FOOTED Mice, also called deer mice..

The mice are the ones who transmit this disease to the ticks. Then, the ticks go around and found other ways of transportation, like birds, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and deer.  Let’s stop blaming the deer for Lyme! Lyme infected ticks might not even meet a deer before they end up on a dog or on you!

If you have mice – like I had in my garage! – get rid of the mice, and I don’t mean to keep them out of the garage! If we could eradicate the white footed mice, we would also get rid of Lyme!

 

PROTECTING OUR DOGS

– Making sure your dog is up to date with the Lyme vaccine

– Tick and flea repellent: apply it every month no matter which season it is. The ticks did not read the memo that they should die when it starts freezing. Get the best repellent. The newer products kill ticks within an hour. Check it out with your vet.

– Do an annual heartworm test (they call it “heartworm” test but this is a test for heartworm as well as Lyme disease)

Last but not least: if you have a young retriever (lab or golden) and live in an tick infested area, know that your dog might be at risk for Lyme nephritis. In plain English, your dog gets Lyme but instead of fighting Lyme, he will fight his own kidneys as if they were the intruders, and they get destroyed without any symptoms. When you figure it out, it’s too late. This is what happened with George. On a Sunday, he was rambunctious George, playing and eating well, and on Monday, he could not walk anymore since his limbs were so swollen. I had to put him to sleep the following day.

It doesn’t happen that often, but when it’s your dog, it really doesn’t matter how many dogs get it. The only way to be sure that your retriever is fine – despite of all the precautions – is to do a urine test to see if there are any proteins. Protein is a sign that something is wrong with the kidneys. If I had done that test with George, like I now do with my other labs every six months, George would still be alive.

This is my fight against Lyme. No one should have to go through what I and George had to go through. Losing a dog is always awfully hard but losing a young dog is a blow you don’t recover easily from, and I probably won’t. For George and for all the young retrievers who died from this disease, be aware of what you can do to keep your dog safe.