What causes lyme disease in dogs

Dr Patricia Jordan forwarded an interesting email to me and I’d like to share it with you.

But first, I want to take a look at what conventional veterinarians think is the cause of Lyme disease in dogs. So I went to PetMD, one of the largest and most used veterinary sites in the world to find out what vets are telling pet owners.

I got what I was looking for nearly instantly. I say nearly instantly because I had to watch a commercial for pet insurance first.

Vets Are Ignoring Important Research

So once the commercial was over, I found a video and article by veterinarian Dorothy Jackson from The Veterinary Cancer Center.

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In the video and accompanying article, Dr Jackson has this to say about the cause of Lyme disease:
Lyme disease “is one of the most commonly transmitted tick transmitted diseases in dogs but isn’t caused by the tick itself.” And human research would agree with her on this point.

Lyme disease isn’t as simple as a bite from a tick. Lyme disease researchers and specialists have found that the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria we used to think were the cause of Lyme disease aren’t the real cause. In most cases, Lyme disease only occurs when there is an existing health issue in the patient … called coinfection.

Tick Bites Are Not The Primary Cause Of Lyme Disease

Swiss researcher Dr Thomas Rau studied groups of farmers who lived in areas where Lyme was common and were most likely to be exposed to Lyme and he found something interesting …

80% of the farmers were diagnosed with Lyme disease, but of that 80%, only 2% showed any symptoms. That means the vast majority of the farmers with Lyme disease were able to fight it off on their own. So Dr Rau set out to discover why some people were more susceptible than others.

And this is where it gets really interesting …

Dr Rau discovered that 100% of the people who developed full blown Lyme symptoms had other viruses, which stressed the immune system. This is inline with current research that revealed the link between existing health issues and Lyme disease symptoms back in the 90s.

The Real Risk Of Lyme Disease

The Borrelia bacteria found in ticks typically causes flu-like symptoms. Dr Rau’s research shows that about a third of ticks carry Borrelia. So if your dog is bitten by a tick, it’s only 33% likely to carry the potentially harmful Borrelia bacteria.

In some areas in New England, 70 to 90 percent of healthy dogs are Lyme-positive.

If the tick is infected, then you or your dog will typically develop flu-like symptoms and possibly a rash at the site of infection. This is the first stage of Lyme disease. Dr Rau and other researchers estimate that only 10 to 20 percent of tick bites will lead to stage 1 Lyme disease. If untreated however, 30% of stage 1 cases will lead to stage 2 (where bacteria can infect the skin, joints, kidneys and sometimes the heart).

So your dog has about a 1% to 2% chance of stage 2 Lyme disease … the kind of Lyme disease that can really make him sick.

Stage 3 Lyme is the chronic stage, which can appear months or even years after infection. The most common symptoms are joint and muscle pain. Only 1% of stage 2 cases of Lyme progress to stage 3. This mirrors research done in dogs.

Most Dogs Never Get Sick

In a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, beagles were experimentally infected with Lyme disease. Yet none of the adult dogs showed any symptoms of the disease.

Beagle puppies, who would have weaker immune systems than adult dogs, showed about four days of transient symptoms of infection such as fever and lameness in the same study. After four days of on-and-off symptoms, the pups became asymptomatic; which means their bodies cleared the infection without any treatment.

According to Meryl P Littman (University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine), exposure to Lyme disease is common, but the disease isn’t:

“Ninety-five percent of exposed dogs don’t get sick, but they become Lyme antibody-positive on tests, which may scare people into thinking they need to be treated,” she says. “In some areas in New England, 70 to 90 percent of healthy dogs are Lyme-positive. At PennVet, we found about 40 percent of healthy dogs are Lyme-positive in our area.”

So it seems that Lyme disease isn’t all that common and dogs aren’t that likely to get it, even when infected. So why are we so worried about Lyme disease?

More Than Just A Bite

This is where it gets weird …

… Dr Rau discovered that certain vaccines were cofactors for Lyme disease, including the tick-borne meningoencephalitis vaccine.

We don’t know if the Lyme vaccine is considered a cofactor because this research was done on the human population … and the LYMERix human Lyme disease vaccine was only used for 18 months between 1998 and 2000, before it was pulled off the market amidst reports of serious adverse events and the vaccine potentially causing Lyme-like arthritis. (Did you catch that? The human Lyme vaccine was pulled from the market because of safety concerns, yet we still vaccinate our dogs with the same vaccine). Evidence is mounting that it could be this very vaccine that acts as a cofactor, allowing Lyme to progress from transient flu-like symptoms into debilitating disease.

Dr Rau explains the relationship in this short video:

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Other important coinfections for Lyme disease include:

  • chronic inflammation
  • immune suppression
  • coinfections from other viruses
  • parasites
  • other bacteria and fungi
  • heavy metals and toxins

The Interesting Role Of Omega-3

Dr Rau also found that all of the patients in his study who reached stage 3 Lyme disease had severely unbalanced fatty acid profiles. This isn’t surprising because when omega-3 levels are low, the resulting imbalance can cause inflammation.

What Vets Need To Know

Getting back to the Lyme information from PetMD, here’s what Dr Jackson concludes as the cause of Lyme disease:

Lyme disease “is actually caused by bacteria that’s transported through the tick.” We now know this isn’t exactly the case. And here’s where conventional veterinary medicine really lets us down.

Prevention Image

The WebMD article discusses how to prevent Lyme disease by using toxic sprays and chemicals, as well as vaccines. And most conventional vets also advocate this approach. But if Lyme disease is likely to progress into more than flu-like symptoms only when the recipient has cofactors present, then isn’t stressing the immune system backwards – and ultimately dangerous – thinking?

We know that Lyme disease only progresses to a harmful stage if dogs aren’t healthy, right? So how do vaccines and chemicals make dogs healthier?

Let’s look at the list of cofactors again …

  • We know vaccines increase the risk.
  • We know chronic inflammation increases the risk … and vaccines are well known to cause chronic inflammation and auto-immune disease.
  • Immune suppression – vaccines are known to suppress the immune system after administration.
  • Coinfections of other viruses – well, that’s what vaccines are designed to do … deliver a small amount of virus into the body.
  • Heavy metals and toxins – vaccines contain aluminum, thimerosal (a form of mercury), MSG, formaldehyde and other dangerous toxins.

Moreover, the commercial foods we feed our dogs are often deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, as a result of the heating and processing. And once the bag of food is opened, any fats that are left in the food start to oxidize and go rancid, leading to even more inflammation.

How Do We Really Prevent Lyme Disease?

It’s not rocket science … the more toxic your dog is, the more likely he is to suffer an exaggerated response to an otherwise benign stress. Research shows it … 95% of dogs (and people) who are bitten by a tick, are likely to have either no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms. For the 5% of dogs who get really sick, how can we blame the tick when the other 95% do just fine?

We can’t! The problem was already there before the tick came along … the bacteria in the tick was just the final small blow to an already weakened immune system. While conventional veterinarians would have you “protect” your dog with sprays and vaccines, holistic vets know the secret is a healthy immune system. They know that bacteria and parasites only prey on weak animals … and that a healthy immune system is what separates the 5% of dogs with Lyme disease from the healthier 95% of the population.

Here are some tips to help bolster your dog’s immune system:

  • Feed a fresh, whole food species appropriate diet
  • Avoid any and all unnecessary vaccines (here’s a hint … most of them are unnecessary)
  • Avoid toxic heartworm, flea and tick medications whenever possible
  • Work with a holistic or homeopathic vet who will work with you on replacing the above, plus drugs and antibiotics, with holistic, natural options that won’t harm the immune system.
  • Check out our free Lyme Prevention and Treatment Guide for more information and to learn about the safe and simple remedy that can stop Lyme disease in its tracks.

It’s time to stop fearing Lyme disease and seeing it for what it is … a signal that there was already something seriously wrong with your dog. So why not worry about your dog’s immune health instead? If you focus on immune health, research shows you’ll probably never face the challenge of Lyme disease in your dog.