Cecily Tynan's dog recovering from Lyme disease

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Cecily Tynan's dog recovering from lyme disease
Cecily Tynan's dog recovering from lyme disease. Monica Malpass reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on July 25, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The predictions were right - this is a very bad year for ticks.

And not just for people, but for pets.

Our own Cecily Tynan shared word on Facebook this week that Sandy, the youngest of her three dogs, is being treated for Lyme disease.

Dr. Tracy Heitzman, of County Line Veterinary Hospital in Hatboro, Pa., started seeing a tick boom in February.

And treatment has been harder, because the ticks aren't responding well to medications.

"Sometimes, now, we've had to use multiple products in order to try to decrease the population of ticks on the pets this year," says Dr. Heitzman.

Her combo includes a preventive like Frontline along with a repellent - a tick collar.

Dr. Heitzman says after pets are in high grass, or on the edge of woods or bushes, go through their coats with a fine-toothed comb

"That way, anything that's bigger than that will be caught in the comb, and you'll be able to pull them out," says Dr. Heitzman.

Some animals don't show any signs of Lyme disease.

But it you notice lethargy, a fever, or limping - especially if it varies from one leg to another, check with your vet right away.

Although there is a vaccine against Lyme disease, veterinarians don't universally recommend it for dogs.

It's less effective than other canine vaccines - 60-85%.

It also doesn't work for every dog.

And it causes more short-term side effects (first 3 days) than any other canine vaccine.

So vets like Dr. Heitzman say preventing tick bites, and getting quick attention for them when they happen, is important.

Untreated Lyme disease in dogs can lead to kidney failure, which can be deadly.

If there is a bite, a dog's blood will be checked, and it's positive for Lyme disease proteins, the dog will be given an antibiotic, usually for a month.

The dog's blood will be rechecked after treatment.

Because it takes 4 to 6 weeks for Lyme disease to develop, Dr. Heitzman is even re-checking dogs who don't test positive, but may have a history of ticks.

While she hasn't seen a rise in Lyme disease cases yet, she believes it could be coming this fall, so she urges pet owners not to let up their vigilance into the fall - and beyond.

"It takes a week of hard frost - temperatures below 32 degrees - to kill ticks," she notes.

The American Kennel Club has more info - click here.