Keeping Northland Farm Dogs Tick-Free
Lyme Disease A Growing Concern Among Farm Dogs & Owners
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It’s more or less ‘farm etiquette’ to have at least one dog, if not more.
But running across fields, through bushes and grass and woods – without boundaries – leads to many dogs contracting these tickborne diseases.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Shep lives every puppy’s dream, with 20 acres of green land as her playground.
“If we’re out here, she’s out here,” said Farmer Lois Hoffbauer.
Farmers Lois and Doug Hoffbauer say their springer–spaniel is a vital member of the team.
“Every farm needs a dog, every farm,” Lois admitted.
But after prior heartbreak, they were hesitant to bring another pup onto the farm.
“She was with Doug everywhere he went, Sunni would be right alongside in the front seat,” Lois said. “I didn’t want another dog.”
Running among the very same crops, their yellow lab, Sunni, contracted Lyme disease.
When they brought her to the vet, it was too late.
“By that time we had to carry her into their house, on her dog bed, and she never lifted her head, she just laid in her dog bed, in their laundry room,” Lois explained.
“It’s something we have to be so diligent about watching, because it’s so common in this area,” said Dr. Lisa Juten at Duluth Veterinary Hospital.
Since April 1, the Duluth Veterinary Hospital has diagnosed 93 dogs with Lyme disease.
“The classic dog has a fever – anything above 102.5. They can have a shifting leg lameness, they just act like they’re walking on eggshells cause all their joints are stiff and sore and they hurt,” Juten described.
Doctors say, first and foremost, all outdoor pets should be on some type of tick prevention.
“She’s on this really high powered flea and tick medication that we put on her back once a month,” Lois explained.
On top of that, Lois sets aside a chunk of time each and every night to check Shep from nose to tail.
“Oh my gosh, we were finding five or six ticks a day or more,” Lois said. “Her neck especially is where she gets it so bad. They kind of get stuck under her collar or around her collar,” she added.
“Every day I think about it, I think about it with Shep, and we check her every single day,” Lois said.
The couple saying they’ll do everything possible to not lose another pup to the disease.
Vets say Lyme disease in animals is absolutely treatable, with a 28–day antibiotic.
They emphasize, of course, the sooner it’s caught, the better.