ACTION PROJECT--Illinois Birddog Rescue

Logan Daniels is one of our great kids helping in Illinois Birddog Rescue's foster care program. In the spring of 2014, his 4th grade class at Center School in Freeport, Il, were involved in an action project to get the kids more involved in their community. Logan decided to focus on IBR's Tick Borne Disease program because his first foster Setter Genevieve came in with 3 diseases and his current foster buddy Hudson is fighting at least 2. Hudson has had his ups and downs and his foster mommy Jessica is keeping a journal of his behavior in their home. Logan got an A!

Here is a list of questions Logan asked me to answer. I hope this information is helpful to those struggling with tick borne disease or those with pets struggling with tick borne disease.
Lisa Spakowski- IBR Founder & President

1. How did you get started with IBR?
I found an English Pointer puppy for sale in the paper in 1998 for $50. I had been competing in dog agility with my second dog Nasa and since she was getting older, I thought it would be good to see if I could get another sporting breed to train with. I didn’t know anything about American Field bred Pointers but my boy Westleigh started my love affair with the breed. After I joined an English Pointer chat group in 1999, I was asked to volunteer with PRO, Pointer Rescue Organization and for a year or so I helped set up volunteer transports to help move dogs from danger to foster care. In 2001 I left PRO and started to build a volunteer base of like-minded dog lovers and in Illinois Birddog Rescue became an official 501(c)(3) not for profit licensed charity and animal shelter through the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

2. How long have you been doing this? Technically I have been in pet rescue for nearly 15 years. Illinois Birddog Rescue is currently in its 13th year of operations.

3. How many dogs have you helped find homes? We have helped nearly 1200 dog and cats find rescue and many hundreds more by referrals and courtesy listing help.

4. How many dogs are available for adoption now? We currently have 20 dogs and puppies in the program and many are in our foster to adopt program. All are fighting tick borne disease infections.

5. What is Lyme Disease? Human help links: Tick Borne Disease Symptoms.

What is Lyme disease?

Under Our Skin Documentary.

6. How do you get it? Defer to #5.

7. Are there any other diseases caused by ticks?Yes What are they? Here is a helpful link from the AKC Canine Health Foundation. This information is more than likely outdated as new strains are being discovered.

Canine Tick-Borne Disease

Thousands of dogs are infected annually with dangerous tick-transmitted diseases - with the risk rising: Between 2006 and 2010, Veterinary Week reported a 30 percent increase in the rate of dogs exposed to tick-transmitted diseases. With the CDC under-reporting human cases by 270,000 annually using ELISA testing on dogs that is controversial- we suspect the human infection rate is in the millions and sadly the same goes for our pets—dogs, cats, horses, any livestock really.

Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to dogs, feed on blood and transmit diseases directly into the dog’s system. Major tick-borne diseases transmitted to dogs in the United States include:

Lyme disease, which comes from the deer tick, can cause stiffness, lameness, swollen joints, loss of appetite, fever and fatigue. Your dog may not show signs of the disease until several months after infected.

Canine Ehrlichiosis, found worldwide, is the most common and one of the most dangerous tick-borne disease organisms known to infect dogs. Caused by the brown dog tick, symptoms may not surface for months after transmission, and can include fever, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, runny eyes and nose, nose bleeds and swollen limbs.

Canine Anaplasmosis, also called dog fever or dog tick fever, is transmitted from the deer tick. Symptoms are similar to other tick diseases including fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints and lethargy, but also can include vomiting, diarrhea. In extreme cases, dogs may suffer seizures.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever comes from the American dog tick, the wood tick and the lone star tick. Symptoms include fever, stiffness, neurological problems and skin lesions. Typically the illness lasts about two weeks, but serious cases could result in death.

Canine Babesiosis is typically transmitted by the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Causing anemia, symptoms may also include pale gums, weakness and vomiting.

Canine Bartonellosis comes from the brown dog tick. Symptoms are intermittent lameness and fever. Left untreated, this disease can result in heart or liver disease.

• Canine Hepatozoonosis is thought to be transmitted by the brown dog tick and Gulf Coast ticks. Your dog can be infected if he eats one of these disease-carrying ticks. Symptoms are fever, runny eyes and nose, muscle pain and diarrhea with the presence of blood.

We also suspect many dogs are infected with another protozoan tick transmitted disease call Mycoplasma.

8. Can Lyme disease be cured? Very controversial subject and most experts in human treatment do not agree. It is possible if a patient or pet can be treated almost immediately after a tick bite- they may make a full recovery- but many humans that are infected are dealing with Chronic Lyme (undiagnosed for over a year or less) are incurable. In our infected pets we are hopeful that if we treat infected puppies and kittens early with proactive antibiotics, they will be cured- but our evidence of follow up testing is mixed. It does seem that the longer the infection the more likely the symptoms can be helped with repeat antibiotics but most older dogs and cats that have been subject to co infections are incurable.

9. How long does it take to get better? In the younger dog population we have found that treating multiple diseases with multiple antibiotics is helpful and the duration may be several months. IF we are able to test the nursing mother and get an idea of how many infections she may be have that can infect her puppies- that is even more helpful. Here are our current rescue dog/cat tick borne disease testing and treatment step by step program with the support of Dr’s Hanover and Miller: All incoming rescue pets start on proactive antibiotics due to the high incidence of disease and also due to the potential exposure of kennel cough from the shelter.

First vet appointment includes a Complete Blood Count and Chemistry (CBC/Chem) and an IDEXX 371 IFA Serology panel to look for antibody infection of Ehrlichia, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. We assume most of our dogs are infected with at least 3 co infections but know the pets we bring in are also at risk of more infections including Anaplasma, Babesia, Bartonella, and Mycoplasma. These are not easy to test for- and why we watch the results of the CBC/Chem so carefully.

Depending on the results of the first tick panel many dogs respond better to one drug over another and we depend on our foster care providers for day to day updates.

Here are the scripted antibiotic treatment regimens that we have found to be very helpful for the infected pets in our program : Any co infection complicated by Ehrlichia-- Baytril and Doxycycline (doxy) preferred or Minocycline.
We only use Baytril on Puppies over 6 months old but will combine with doxy for Ehrlichia and co infections for more successful treatment
Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever- Amoxicillin/Clavamox and doxy preferred or Minocycline. We have found some dogs do not respond to Minocycline treatment while some do.
Puppies or kittens over 7 weeks old have been started on liquid doxy and liquid Amoxicillin. Especially with evidence of an infected mother.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever- doxy or Minocycline. But most dogs are never infected with just one disease- follow up testing is critical to look for co infections once treatment starts—especially in younger dogs and older dogs with compromised immune systems.
Many dogs also respond to Keflex for Lyme disease but this only helps with symptoms and none of these drug combinations offer a cure. Metronidazole has also been used for stubborn neurological Lyme disease dogs.

All new dogs and puppies older than 6 months with 1-2 infections get a repeat 371, and CBC/Chem to look for hiding infections and to document the progress of treatment.

For heartworm positive dogs, Slow Kill treatment includes twice monthly Heartguard® or Iverhart® and daily doxy. Follow up tick panels and CBC/Chems are critical to find any co infections and to follow the dog’s progress. If additional antibodies for co infections show up in follow up 371 testing at about the 6 month mark, co antibiotics are added to help.

10. Are there ways to prevent it? If the pet has not been infected by an infected mother, there are many flea and tick products on the market but some are better than others and many bugs are becoming resistant to the pesticides in these products. Also pets need to be protected nearly all year round now. IBR is currently recommending Vectra 3D and Scalibor flea and tick collars.

The best protection is avoiding tick infested areas which can be difficult as they can be found nearly in every residential area especially in the Midwest. Early and aggressive treatment is also very important.

11. How did you discover the dogs are infected? Our first ever positive dog was a Pointer named Joe. He was heartworm and Ehrlichia positive through 3DX snap testing via the Animal Hospital of Gurnee. As we continued to work with this clinic, I noticed Dr. Hanover using another test- the IDEXX 371. As we were rescuing dogs from all over the country, I learned about additional testing methods by different companies. As I was in charge of all of the medical records for the rescue population, I started noticing inconsistencies in the results from one test to another. As we started compiling data, the incidence of infection rates using the 371 IFA Serology was pretty substantial. Following many infected dogs and cats (in 2012) we started linking certain behaviors and certain health complications to the pets that were fighting multiple co infections. Following the same dogs over many years also helped us follow their health and behaviors closely.

Our foster homes were also very helpful in documenting the health and behavior of their foster pets. For instance many of our foster care helpers pay close attention to when their infected pet starts to dream- we think indicating some important progress with treatment.

12 .What symptoms do the dogs have? Most vets are taught to look for joint pain, perhaps anemia, and lethargy when trying to diagnose an infected pet. The list of symptoms and behaviors we have found over the years are very similar to what an infected human may be exhibiting. Lyme disease especially is known as the great imitator. From the site The symptomology of Lyme disease is varied and diverse, resulting in significant difficulty in diagnosis. Known as "The Great Imitator," Lyme disease can mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as more than some 350 other diseases. When patients do present with a number of infections and coinfections, including other tick-borne infections, it is this complicated presentation that we call Lyme Disease Complex. - See more at: Here is a list of some of the behaviors and health complications we have linked to tick borne disease in infected dogs and cats:
Anterior cruciate Ligament injuries
Addison’s disease
Amylase enzyme deficiency
Bad breath (puppy breath clears up) Adults with liver issues get better breath.
Bladder infections
Calcium deficiency
Cushing’s disease
Ear infections
EYE PROBLEMS- draining, infections, cataracts, inflammation of the retina (Anterior Uveitis), night blindness.
Food allergies
Heart murmurs
Hind end weakness
Hot flashes
Irritable Bowel- including intestinal bleeding and diarrhea
Joint problems- swelling and inflammation
Liver disease
Kidney disease- amyloidosis
Mange- Demodex and Sarcoptic
Muscle cramping
Sinus problems including drainage
Swollen lymph nodes Thyroid problems
Upper Respiratory infections including pneumonia
Weight loss

BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS: Rage including fear aggression, resource guarding, separation anxiety, cage anxiety, ADD (attention deficit disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) including fence jumping, hole digging, furniture destruction.

CANCER- spleen, liver, lung, mast cell, lymphoma, lymphocytic leukemia, hemangiasarcoma, mammary.

NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS: Dementia (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction), circling behavior, tremors, seizures, lack of focus, shadow chasing, non-dreaming, meningitis symptoms.

MOST SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY: Hunting dogs start to get their natural hunting and scent pointing abilities back. It is unclear if it is due to potential sinus problems or overall brain fog.

13. Can our animals can make us sick? There is no evidence that an infected pet can infect a human- however if the pet is carrying ticks they can enter the home and attach themselves to humans.

14. What can I do to help? This little project was very helpful as I will post it as a web page on the IBR home page with links. Every tick panel and CBC/Chem costs $200. We often have to repeat and each infected pet may need months of antibiotics at a cost of $90 per dog per month. We need funding for sure and any ideas you can come up with to help dogs like Hudson that are chronically infected would be great!

Please share any success stories that I can share also!! I would also love any pictures!

Any time we find one of these dogs an adoptive family- that is a success story!!!

Photo Album of some of the IBR Tick Borne Disease Alumni.

Thanks again,
Logan Daniels

Thank you Logan- especially for helping foster Genevieve and also fostering Hudson :O).