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Lyme Disease in Dogs
The Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease and that spreads into the dog’s bloodstream through the bite of a tick. Bacteria can move in different parts of the body and cause problems in the dog’s joints & organs and overall illness.
Once your dog has ticks, it can take one or two days to transmit the bacteria which cause Lyme disease, so prompt removal of ticks is essential.
Lyme disease can impact dogs, humans & other animals too. Therefore, you must treat your dog if they have signs of Lyme. If Lyme disease is not treated, it causes serious health issues for your Furry Friend.
Find out more about Lyme disease and how you can prevent your dog from it.
Signs & Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Symptoms of Lyme disease may vary. Some dogs will not have any symptoms, while others may show severe signs like
- Painful, Swollen Joints
- Loss of Appetite
- Kidney Failure
- Bruising or Unexplained Bleeding
Above all, symptoms are common in Lyme disease and can range in severity. If Lyme disease is not treated, it can damage the heart, Kidney, and nervous system.
Lyme disease mainly affects the Kidney more than the heart or nervous system. Unfortunately, it is often fatal.
How long does it take for Lyme Disease Symptoms to show in Dogs?
Only 5-10% of infected animals are expected to exhibit clinical signs of Lyme disease. They usually occur at the chronic disease stage and as early as 2-5 months after infection. However, clinical signs can also develop much later.
How is Lyme Disease Treated?
Lyme disease can be challenging to diagnose, and it can be difficult to detect as well. The veterinarian will observe clinical signs to confirm Lyme disease. If clinical signs correspond to Lyme disease, the vet will perform a serologic test such as the Lyme Multiplex assay. The vet might conduct an additional blood test for infection and determine if the condition affected to dog’s Kidney.
In some cases, the dog may need heart, kidney, or nerve treatment. If the dog is in pain, then vert might prescribe steroids and pain relievers and restrict exercise.
Diagnosing Lyme Disease in Dogs
You have to provide the history of the dog’s health to your vet to understand whether the dog is being affected.
Please remember that tests can take 4-6 weeks to show a positive result after exposure. That is the reason that vet will use a combination of diagnostics to diagnose your dog:
- Complete blood cell count
- Fecal Examination
- Blood Chemistry Tests
- X-Rays and tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease. For Eg – Serology
- Fluid from the affected joints may also be drawn for analysis
Treatment for Lyme Disease in Dogs
Veterinarians will treat your dog with Lyme disease with a combination of medical therapy & supportive care. There will be 4-6 weeks of antibiotics with clinical signs of Lyme disease. Antibiotics will also be needed if any dog is asymptomatic. Some pet owners will see improvement in a few weeks. However second round of antibiotics may be required, as the infection may persist through the first round of treatment. Rechecking blood work is necessary after six months of antibiotics to confirm that treatment has been successful.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Dog
The basic step is that keep your dog away from the tick-infested area where Lyme disease is common.
Check your dog’s skin & coat daily to make sure that they have not gotten any ticks.
You can use flea & tick prevention to prevent Lyme disease & protect your pets from tick-borne diseases.
There is multiple flea & ticks treatment like a topical solution, collars, or chewable tablets available in the market but make sure you are using those under your vet’s guidance. But, again, you should follow the label’s direction.
How do you check your Dog for Ticks?
It would help if you gently move your fingers through the dog’s fur & down the skin. Suppose you feel any bumps or ticks in entire body. Then part your dog’s fur and have a look.
Ticks love attaching to the following areas
- In between the toes
- Soft areas behind or inside the dog’s ears
- The underside of the tail
- Under the collar
If you find ticks, you can use a comb to sift through the fur for unwanted bugs. You can even use Fine tipped tweezers to remove ticks. There are multiple products available for removing ticks in the market. Make sure that you remove the ticks as soon as you see any.
Should your Dog get the Lyme Disease Vaccine?
The reason behind Lyme disease vaccination is to prevent your dog from infection before any exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi. The vaccine includes two shots that need to be given in 2 - 4 weeks apart, followed by annual boosters.
You should consult your vet to see if your dog needs Lyme Disease vaccination. Your vet will recommend you if you live in an area at high risk or your dog is involved in outdoor activities. Vaccination is considered additional protection for dogs residing in Lyme areas.
Vaccines are not 100% effective, but prevention is essential.
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The Bottom Line
Lyme disease can cause severe health issues for your dog if left untreated. You can take multiple steps to prevent infection, including vaccination and tick protection products. If Lyme disease is caught on time, it can be treated with antibiotics.