Just like in humans, dogs can suffer from Lyme Disease. Although it may be hard to avoid contracting this disease, it is important that you know the symptoms and signs of Lyme Disease in dogs so you can start the treatment process as soon as possible.
If you are concerned about your dog’s overall health and are curious about the effects of Lyme disease, continue reading this article below. Here you can learn everything you need to know about this disease as well as the symptoms that can be identified if your dog is infected.
Unfortunately, with this disease, only 5-10% of dogs will actually show symptoms. In order to be a good pet owner and keep them as healthy as possible, make sure to take your dog in for frequent check-ups with a veterinarian.
What is Lyme Disease in Dogs?
By definition, Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that’s caused by the spirochete bacteria species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group. Lyme disease can be passed to humans and animals through the transmission of a certain variety of tick.
Once a tick bites their host, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the rest of the body. In most cases, dogs suffering from Lyme disease will experience recurrent lameness due to inflammation of their joints. Severe Lyme disease can cause kidney disease in dogs or complications with the heart and nervous system.
Where is Lyme Disease Found?
Most cases of Lyme disease are found in the Northeast, however, all 50 states have had an outbreak at some point in history. When looking specifically at the source itself, most of these deer ticks can be found in dense, wooded areas. Dogs that become infected with this disease are often exposed to these kinds of environments and become infected just by playing outside.
What Does Lyme Disease in Dogs Look Like?
The most recognizable sign of Lyme disease in humans is a bullseye-shaped bite mark, however that is not present in dogs. What you can look for in dogs infected with this disease is generalized pain and a loss of appetite. Lameness is often a common symptom as well due to the inflammation of the joints.
Other symptoms that are linked to Lyme disease may include:
- Stiffness in walking
- Inflamed Joints
- Sensitivity to touch
- Difficulty breathing
- High fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Heart complications (rare)
- Nervous system complications (rare)
Keep in mind these symptoms can be very general, which makes diagnosing this disease quite complicated. If your dog is suffering from Lyme disease and it has yet to be diagnosed, your veterinarian will most likely rule out other serious conditions before concluding that he has Lyme disease. If your dog has been exposed to endemic areas or dense shrubbery that has been linked to Lyme disease, make sure to inform your veterinarian during his initial appointment.
How to Diagnose Lyme Disease in Dogs
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms above and you believe they could be infected with the spirochete bacteria species, take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will first start off by asking for your dog’s medical history and a record of all prior symptoms leading up to now. This background information can provide your veterinarian with key insight into which organs and areas of the body are affected.
From there, your vet will then run a series of tests including a complete blood count, a chemistry test, a urinalysis, x-rays, fecal examinations, and specific testing for Lyme disease.
Treatment of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Once your dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, your vet will create a specific treatment plan for his condition. As long as the dog is not in a severe state, they will be able to stay in the comfort of his own home during the entire treatment process after initial testing.
Your vet will first prescribe an antibiotic called Doxycycline for about four weeks or until symptoms subside. There are a number of different medicines that treat Lyme disease; however, Doxycycline is the most common among pets. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication as a pain reliever if your dog is suffering from joint inflammation.
Although it may seem difficult to prevent Lyme disease from occurring in the first place, there are several precautionary measures you can take as a pet owner. For starters, limit your dog’s exposure to tick-infested areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. Aside from that, check his coat on a regular basis for ticks or any other skin abnormalities that may be a sign of a tick bite.
By following these steps and taking your dog for his regular check-ups, you will be doing everything in your power to prevent this disease from infecting your furry friend.