Mountain rescue dogs protected from Lyme disease
Mountain rescue dogs in the Lake District have been vaccinated against the tick-borne illness, Lyme disease, following research showing that ticks are becoming increasingly widespread.
Thanks to the support of Merial Animal Health, each of the 25 dogs deployed by the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association (LDMRSDA) has received the vaccine to protect them as they go about their life-saving work in tick endemic areas.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which can be passed onto humans or dogs following a bite from an infected tick. Symptoms include lameness, lethargy, loss of appetite and sickness, while untreated cases can lead to ongoing heart, brain and kidney problems.
Ticks thrive in the grassy and densely wooded areas in which the dogs work, while research suggests that their prevalence is rising throughout the UK due to climate change and increasing numbers of hosts.
The rescue dogs are trained by specialist dog handling teams to find missing people within the fells and mountains of the Lake District. So far this year, the LDMRSDA has responded to 35 call-outs, including a case in which an 80-year-old lady with Alzheimer’s disease went missing overnight and was found by rescue dog Corrie and handler Andy Peacock after hours’ searching in thick vegetation and dense woodland.
Clair Williams, Veterinary Surgeon at Oakhill Vets, Windermere and Honorary Vet of the LDMRSDA, said: “The Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association is a voluntary organisation that relies upon the generosity of public donations and support. As our rescue dogs are exposed to areas of heightened risk it is extremely important to protect our dogs against ticks and tick-borne disease, therefore we are extremely grateful that Merial Animal Health has provided these free vaccinations to provide the added protection they need against Lyme Disease.”
Claire Edmunds, Merial Animal Health Product Manager, added: “We are committed to the health and welfare of animals, and to supporting organisations such as LDMRSDA.”