“You can do that?!?” – Tick Borne Disease Testing

“You can do that?!?”
I hear this phrase a lot! People are often surprised when I offer to do something for their pet they didn’t think we could. The response is often: “You can do that!?!”
Each newsletter I’ll feature a service we offer that people may not think can be done in their home.
This month’s feature is tick-borne disease testing.
I thought about calling this month’s section “You CAN’T do that?!?”  Testing for these diseases can be very frustrating, as there really is no single test with black and white results. I’ve also been asked if a tick can be tested for disease after it’s removed. That would be nice, but no tests exist now.
For cats, the main test for Cytauxzoonosis is looking at the blood cells for the parasite – although it doesn’t show up a lot of the time! The traditional diagnostics for diseases carried by ticks in dogs are tests for antibodies. These are the body’s immune response to the disease the tick has injected into your dog. The problem? Many dogs may be bitten by a tick, exposed to the disease, but their immune system does its job of fighting off the infection, usually with no symptoms at all. Yet, if tested, these dogs will be positive for the disease, even though they do not have the disease. Conversely, a dog may be coming down with a disease and actually getting very sick, but the immune system hasn’t had a chance to respond – the test may be negative! So, if a dog is symptomatic, we will still test for antibodies to this group of diseases, but we also need to look for other indicators in the blood and urine. It takes many pieces of this puzzle to see the picture and get the diagnosis!