Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that causes inflammation of the joints and other symptoms. Deer ticks can transmit the disease by remaining on a host for over 18 hours. Once the disease is in the bloodstream it localizes in the joints. Can your dog contract lyme disease? How can you prevent lyme disease in your dogs and what symptoms will they exhibit if they have the disease? We’ll outline these and the other things you need to know about lyme disease in dogs.
Symptoms of lyme disease in dogs differ from those in humans and may not appear until much later than the tick bite. Your dog may exhibit the following symptoms if he has contacted lyme disease:
- Fever between 103° and 105°.
- Swelling in the joints.
- Loss of appetite.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Difficulty breathing
Blood tests that detect antibodies made by the dog’s body in response to the infection. These tests may give a positive result when the dog doesn’t have disease because the antibodies are still present. This means the dog was exposed, but the infection was fought off. Another test called the C6 antibody test can distinguish between antibodies from exposure and antibodies from the lyme disease vaccine. However this test does not tell the difference between exposure to the bacteria or the actual infection. The tests will be part of the diagnosis along with the dog’s symptoms and health history. The veterinarian will want to know when your dog was exposed to a tick and if there is a tick bite area.
Once lyme disease is diagnosed in your dog, antibiotics will be prescribed. Antibiotic cycles of 14 to 30 days are recommended. Some dogs may never clear their bodies of the infection, despite antibiotic treatment. These dogs may never show signs of the infection again. Even though some dogs develop chronic infections, most dogs respond rapidly and efficiently to antibiotic treatments. In dogs that exhibit severe arthritis or joint issues associated with this disease, other pain relievers or joint supplements may be used.
First, it’s important to note that dogs infected with lyme disease can be come reinfected – so they too need protection. One preventative measure you can take it getting your dogs the lyme disease vaccine. Some veterinarians criticize the ineffectiveness of the vaccine. The second thing you can do as a dog owner is tick control. Ticks are carriers of several diseases not just lyme; it is beneficial to keep ticks from attaching to your pets, which can prevent all of these diseases from being contracted. Avoid taking your dog places that are infested with ticks or during time periods when ticks are active. Using topical insecticides on your dog can also help with tick control. If your dog is outside in an area with high grass or other plants and you think ticks may be in the area, check your dog over after he exits the area. If you find a tick, safely remove and dispose of it.
Now that you know that it’s possible for your dog to get lyme disease, you also have the tools to identify the symptoms of the disease, options for treatment, and ways to prevent spread of the disease. Lyme disease is certainly not a death sentence for your pets. You can take steps to get rid of the disease, as well as treat its associating joint issues. Medical conditions that affect your dog can be scary. The best way to stay calm is to stay informed on what will happen as your pet ages. To learn more about helping your dog age gracefully, download our free eBook by clicking the image below.