Can Lyme Disease Cause Paralysis in Dogs?

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There are a number of side effects that can occur when a dog is suffering from Lyme disease. From inflamed joints to lethargy to even a high fever, most of these signs are general, which can make diagnosing the issue quite the challenge.

However, Lyme disease in its more severe stages can have some serious effects tied to the condition. If a dog with Lyme disease goes untreated for an extended period, he can develop kidney failure or even cardiac and nervous system complications. In some cases, he can also develop neurological issues such as seizures if left without treatment.

While these effects may seem frightening, just remember that this only occurs in the most severe cases. As a pet owner, it is critical that you educate yourself on possible health conditions and act quickly if you see any changes in your pets appearance, behavior, or overall health.

Can Lyme Disease Cause Paralysis in Dogs?

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A very common question is whether or not Lyme disease causes paralysis in dogs. As mentioned above, this condition can cause some severe side effects, but what about paralysis?

The quick answer to that is no, however, it is a little more complicated than one might think. There is some grey area as to whether Lyme disease causes the paralysis itself, or if it is due to another factor that causes the disease in the first place. To understand how the two are connected, you first have to review what causes Lyme disease and why paralysis is commonly associated with this condition.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that spreads throughout the body and is caused by a tick bite. Not all ticks carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and only a small percentage of dogs that have been exposed to this bacteria will actually become diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Where things get a little complicated is that these ticks can cause other conditions to occur, not just the widely known Lyme disease.

Another common tick-borne illness that can surface from a tick bite is called tick paralysis. Just like with Lyme disease, this condition can only be caused by a particular variety of ticks, which are usually the same variety as the ones that cause Lyme disease. Even though the disease does not cause the paralysis itself, one tick bite can create a lot of damage and cause both to coincide.

What is Tick Paralysis?

Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin that is found in the saliva of female ticks. Once the toxin enters the bloodstream, it can spread throughout the rest of the body, causing ascending paralysis along with other symptoms. Within 2 to 7 days of the initial tick bite, dogs will begin to show symptoms. These symptoms usually start with the rear limbs and will then spread throughout the body. A dog will also appear to be weak and have difficulty walking with the onset of symptoms.

As soon as symptoms begin to occur, it is critical that you seek professional help right away. Tick paralysis moves very quickly, and once the diaphragm becomes involved, the dog is likely to suffer from respiratory arrest.

How to Prevent Tick-Borne Conditions From Affecting Your Dog

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Whether it’s Lyme disease or tick paralysis, no pet owner wants to see their animal suffering from any of these conditions or both for that matter. While it can be difficult to stop every tick from biting your pup, there are several steps you can take to limit his exposure to these pesky ticks.

For starters, be extra cautious if you live in the Northeast or Upper Midwest of the United States. These areas are endemic to ticks and have a long history of Lyme disease. The best thing you can do if you live in this area is to check your dog’s coat as frequently as possible for any ticks. This is especially important right after he has played outside near a wooded or dense area.  Common places on the body that ticks can be found are on the head or the ears.

You should also take your pet to the vet for his regular check-ups and ask for a tick examination during every visit. Often, going to the vet is the only way to see if your dog is suffering from any health conditions unless he is showing visible symptoms. While you are at the vet, make sure to ask them for any tips or suggestions on how to prevent tick-borne diseases from affecting your furry companion.

As a pet owner, you must take him in for an examination if he is showing any unusual signs in his health or behavior. Do not wait to see if his symptoms get better, seek help right away – especially if he has been exposed to an endemic tick area.

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