If you are familiar with Lyme disease in dogs, then you are aware of its ramifications, which are an ugly, horrible thing. The nature of the disease does not differ from dog to human. It is relentless in its pursuits. Thus it is imperative that you as a dog owner understand the symptoms a canine shows once afflicted. The sooner it’s caught, the better chance the dog has of beating it.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial (Borrelia burgdorferi) illness that tends to, once it has entered the bloodstream, localize in a canine’s joints. However, once it’s in, the bacteria can also travel the length of their bodies and shoehorn themselves into certain organs or specific areas.
Being that dogs have a propensity to tumble around in the outdoors, they are more at risk for contacting ticks, which are the sole carriers of this disease.
Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs
Sadly, most dogs show no symptoms at all for Lyme disease. A recent study shows that, of all canines which tested positive for the illness, only 10% of them will show symptoms. In which case, if untreated, the disease can spread and further affect organs and the nervous system.
Lameness in the Leg(s)
Being that Lyme disease tends to localize in joints, lameness in your canine’s legs can ensue. While it may seem like nothing more than simple arthritis, it is important to understand the nature of how it affects the joints. First, it tends to move from joint to joint. Then, it causes inflammation in dogs. This means one day your dog can experience lameness in his front leg, one of which is clearly swollen, but next week it will have passed to his hind legs.
Typically, the swelling causes heat, which can be followed by fever in dogs. They hurt to the touch. If you try and evaluate the joint and your canine yelps in pain, or does not allow you to touch them at all, then this could be a sign.
Furthermore, there are specific lymph nodes in the legs that are often inflamed due to Lyme disease. By tracing the muscle, if you can feel them, then this is cause for concern (particularly if it is isolated to that specific leg—the one in pain).
Lastly, the entire gait of your dog can change. They may have difficulty walking, stiffness in their back, or a complete reluctance to move altogether. Of course, age is a major component here. If your dog is in his elder years, this could easily be natural. If your dog is younger, however, it is much more concerning.
Outside of an abnormal gait and lameness in the leg(s), it is fever that is the second most common symptom associated with Lyme disease in dogs. Their eyes can redden, body temperature can increase, they might have a warm, dryer nose, and a complete loss of energy and they may shiver constantly. Rarer signs of fever include coughing and vomiting in dogs. If this fever continues over an extended period of time—often paired with lameness in the legs—then it is cause for concern.
Depression or Fatigue
A dog with Lyme disease is often depressed. Their aura and mood changes, filled with a solemn, forlorn, and introverted presence. What begets depression in dogs? Fatigue. All at once your dog might seem extremely tired and unenthusiastic, which can easily be signs of Lyme disease. An important thing to note is that many of these symptoms are particularly alarming if they accompany the joint problems previously mentioned.
While depression and fatigue are alarming in any sense, in isolated incidents they are less likely to be symptoms of Lyme disease.
The Bull’s Eye Rash
At the location of the tick bite, some dogs will develop a bull’s eye type rash which, in most cases, cannot be ignored. While most canines do not develop such a rash, when one is present, it is typically a sign of Lyme disease and, fortunately, means you caught it early and can now begin treatment.
Test your Dog
The nature of Lyme disease is that its symptoms can be dismal, ignorable, and confused for other ailments. At times, Lyme disease is only addressed once other conditions have been ruled out. But there are ways to diagnose your canine. Two different blood tests are used for this assessment and both are accurate.
If for whatever reason you think your dog might be experiencing Lyme disease symptoms, then have them evaluated by a veterinarian. The earlier you catch it, the easier it will be to treat. But do not hesitate or put the appointment off, as if it’s left untreated, organ failure can occur.