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Dr.  Vamvakias
Dr. Vamvakias, Veterinarian
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Experience:  Small Animal & Emergency Medicine
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Lymes disease and pregnancy

Customer Question

Hello, I have a Golden Retriever that was diagnosed with Lyme's disease--using the 3-in-1 test for heartworm/Lyme's/ehrlichia (I think?) She had no symptoms. She has been on antibiotics for about 3 weeks and has come into season. Is it safe to breed her? I am concerned that the Lyme's could be transmitted to her puppies and/or the doxycline that the bitch is on could harm the developing fetuses. Does that test ever give false positives?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.

 It should be noted that early in the disease, the blood test can be negative even though the disease is present. Only with later disease does the test become reliably positive.


Later tests are pretty reliable.  False negatives are more common than false positives.


It is not safe to breed her at this point.


You only want a dam that is completely healthy.  It's bad for the puppies to breed when the dog is on antibiotics or facing a medical condition.


You need to wait to breed.


Let me know if you still have questions.

 
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tammy Falkner's Post: Hello Tammy, By the time she is ready to breed she will have been through 5 of the 6 weeks of doxycycline treatment. She has had absolultely no symptoms, and is young and healthy otherwise.

WHY is it bad for the puppies? Is the doxy harmful to developing fetuses? Since she will have nearly completed her doxy treatment is it likely that there is any residual Lyme's that could still transmit to the puppies?

Can you refer me to any references concerning Lyme's disease and the pregnant bitch? I am a scientist by training, and have done a google search, but haven't come up with much.

Thanks so much, Susan
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.

 There is a "code of ethics" that breeders use when they choose their bitches to breed.  Of this code of ethics, there are many different tests that a prospective dam must pass before she should be bred.  These might include:



  • Required vaccines

  • Hip and eye validation

  • Blood work to determine organ function

  • AND TESTING FOR DISEASE

If any of the tests for disease come back positive, the bitch should not be bred at that time.


There certainly is no hard and fast rule but it's just bad breeding practice to breed a dog that is on antibiotics and has tested positive for lyme disease.


With a few exceptions, one should avoid using all medications in pregnant and lactating (nursing) dogs.  Doxycycline has been used effectively during pregnancy if it is needed and cannot be avoided but you should not knowingly breed when a dog is on a long term medication.


You can probably tell how strongly I feel about this subject.  I do hope that you understand that I am not only trying to educate you about good breeding practices but am also trying to help your future pups.


As a side note, there are so many dogs out there that need homes that I don't personally feel like anyone should be breeding substandard pups just because they can.


If you have more questions or you need more specific answers, please feel free to ask.  There are a lot of points here that I have hit on but I may have missed something that you still want to know.


 

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tammy Falkner's Post: Hi again,
I realize that you are trying to educate me about good breeding practices--I should have provided a little more information about myself.

I have been breeding and competing in show obedience and field with Golden Retrievers for over 30 years, and have produced numerous Champions, and titled obedience, field and agility dogs. All of my breeding stock including this bitch are ALWAYS OFA, ophthalmologist clear, heart clear, up to date on vaccines, etc. This particular bitch is the daughter of one of the top winning Golden Retrievers of all time including the winner of the breed at Westminster in 2004. Chances are slim that this bitch and the stud dog carefully chosen for her will produce substandard puppies.

I am simply trying to find out if there is any concrete information on how long one should wait to breed a dog who was Lyme's positive and treated.

The main questions are:

-Can the disease be passed from mother to pups.

-If yes, how long after commencing treatment with appropriate meds is the bitch unlikely to pass the disease to her pups.

-And is doxycyline harmful to developing pups and if yes, how long does the mother need to be off of doxy to clear her system?

Thanks so much!
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.

 I'm checking with Dr. V, our site vet on this one.  She might have more clinical evidence to offer that will help you.  Either she or I will post a follow up shortly.


Thanks for your patience.

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tammy Falkner's Post: Thanks Tammy!
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 11 years ago.
 What test was used for the positive result? A titer? or was it found on a routine check?

Dr.V

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Hello Dr. Vamvakias,

My veterinarian is closed Wednesday afternoons, so can't find out exactly what the test was until tomorrow. However I can tell you it is a 3-in-1 blood test for heartworm, Lyme's and ehrlichia. Your question prompted me to do a google search for a 3-in-1 test for heartworm, Lyme's and ehrlichia and I found info about the SNAP test, which led me to the Idexx web site,(Idexx, the manufacturer of the SNAP test)that says that if you get a positive with it you should have other testing to confirm the diagnosis. This was NOT done. Just wanted to respond quickly before I go back to that web site to read more. Would you recommend another test (or a repeat of the same one) to confirm diagnosis?? She has been on doxy for 3.5 weeks so don't know how/if that would affect the results of another test.
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 11 years ago.

The SNAP test is not diagnostic for Lymes without clinical signs or other serological support.


The presence of a positive SNAP test suggest exposure not disease.  I don't know where you live...but the northeast has lots of Lyme positive dogs that never show clinical disease.


I am unsure without clinical signs OR further testing why your vet prescribed doxycycline.


Dr.V

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Hi again Dr. V

Well, I just finished reading a paper published by IDEXX about the SNAP test, which as you suggested, recommended a follow up test with the Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody Test in SNAPP test positive yet unsymptomatic dogs. It also said that with 4 weeks doxy treatment this C6 antibody test usually shows that a rapid decline in antibody levels has taken place. So, since my bitch has been on the doxy for 3.5 weeks, I think what I should do is ask my vet to perform the C6 antibody test and depending on her antibody level, then decide whether or not to breed her on this heat. Does this sound reasonable to you? Any other suggestions or other tests? She just came into heat today, so I have a good 11-14 days to get this done.

We are located in Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. LOTS of Lyme disease here, in fact one of my other dogs (I have 10!) also tested positive--my 14 year old! I have not vaccinated them. And I have never had a dog with clinical signs. I think this is the second year my vet has used this screening test, but I'll have to check on that. Because of the high incidence of Lyme's disease in people and animals in my area, I'm amazed that they all didn't test positive for "exposure" with this test!

Here's the link to the paper I read:
http:/www.idexx.com/animalhealth/laboratory/c6/index.cfm
then click on "Announcing a new two-tiered approach for canine lyme."

Thanks!
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 11 years ago.

 This is a copy of a post in a veterinary only website...it asked about breeding a positive lyme bitch...the following was stated:


>>> Should we be concerned about compromise of this bitch during pregnancy and/or transmission in utero to the pups? <<<

In-utero transmission has been reported. However, it is not a common occurrence and it is likely that this dog although exposed, did and does not have active disease. I would not be concerned and see no reason why this dog cannot be bred. Since the dog obviously has exposure, diligent tick control to prevent reinfection would be a good idea.


Do what you need to do to confirm lowered titers...stop they doxycycline...and if this bitch is worth breeding you can proceed.


Dr.Vamvakias


 


 

 

Dr. Vamvakias, Veterinarian
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Experience: Small Animal & Emergency Medicine
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Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Thanks for your help.   Susan
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
P.S. you said..

"Do what you need to do to confirm lowered titers"

... what in your opinion is the best way to do this?

Thanks, Susan
Expert:  NancyH replied 11 years ago.
http://www.showdogsupersite.com/kenlclub/breedvet/herx.html
actually has info on this very topic
"What about Lyme disease in pregnant bitches? We are strongly suggesting a Lyme Western Blot test in bitches before they are bred. First, Lyme disease can be transmitted to the baby from the mother. Second, the antibiotic medications we are most likely to prescribe to the pregnant bitch - due to their known safety in pregnancy - are Amoxicillin and Cephalexin (Keflex). These are also effective antibiotics for treating Lyme disease. Use of these good antibiotics can precipitate a Herxheimer reaction in the pregnant bitch with subclinical Lyme, disease which can cause resorption of fetuses. Ask yourself this; how many litters have been lost in the past 15 years in areas with Lyme disease due to Herxheimer reactions in pregnant bitches with Lyme disease? How many stud dogs have wiped out their sperm for a period of 6 weeks following treatment with a monthly heartwormer? How many pregnant bitches are given monthly heartworm medication?"
and a bit more info on the site

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