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Dogs and Lyme Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

 by james on 14 Oct 2022 |
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Dogs and Lyme Disease: Symptoms and Treatment
 
Lyme disease is a serious tick-borne illness that can affect dogs. Although it is relatively common, only a small percentage of infected dogs will ever show any symptoms. 
 
Lyme disease can be found in dogs all across the United States and Europe, but it is most common in certain areas of the country, including the upper Midwest, the Atlantic coast, and the Pacific coast states.
 
However, Lyme disease is a serious problem that is becoming more and more common in the United States. Here is some important information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of Lyme disease.
 
Common Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
 
Here are some of the most common symptoms and complications associated with Lyme disease in dogs.
 
If your dog contracts Lyme disease from a tick bite, you may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
 
Lameness that comes and goes, due to inflammation in the joints,
Fever,
General feeling of malaise.
 
Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have issues with their joints, which can cause lameness. This lameness may come and go, appearing for a few days (usually 3-4 days) before disappearing again for weeks. This is known as "shifting-leg lameness." One or more joints may be swollen, warm, and painful.
 
Other, less common symptoms are:
 
Sensitivity to touch,
Depression,
Lack of appetite,
Difficulty breathing,
Enlarged lymph nodes,
Stiff walk with an arched back
 
 
Kidney damage from Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease is a serious infection that can sometimes lead to complications, including damage to the kidneys and heart or nervous system disease. Although these complications are rare, they can be very serious, so it is important to be aware of them. Lyme disease can also lead to glomerulonephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidney's glomeruli (a blood filter). This can cause serious kidney problems.
 
As a dog's kidneys begin to fail, they may start to show signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups that can appear as swollen limbs. These symptoms can be very detrimental to the dog's health and overall wellbeing.
 
How Lyme Disease Is Transmitted?
 
It is important to understand how the disease is transmitted in order to protect yourself and others. Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick (Ixodes spp.). The tick usually needs to be attached to the body for 24-48 hours in order for the infection to occur.
 
Diagnosis of Lyme Disease in Dogs
 
In order to provide your veterinarian with clues as to which organs may be affected, it is important that you give a thorough history of your dog's health. This includes information on any changes in appetite, energy levels, bathroom habits, and anything else out of the ordinary. 
 
Lyme disease is often confirmed with a positive blood test along with corresponding clinical signs.
 
Due to the fact that tests might take up to four weeks to go positive after exposure, your dog's veterinarian will likely employ a mix of diagnostics to make their diagnosis:
 
Blood chemistry tests,
Urinalysis,
Fecal examination,
X-rays and tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease (e.g., serology),
Complete blood cell count,
Fluid from the affected joints may also be drawn for analysis
 
Lyme Disease-Related Arthritis
 
Your veterinarian will focus on separating arthritis brought on by Lyme disease from other inflammatory arthritic conditions, including trauma and degenerative joint disease, because there are many distinct causes of arthritis.
 
Additionally, immune-mediated illnesses will be taken into account as a potential source of the symptoms. Your doctor will be able to look for any abnormalities in the bones by taking X-rays of the troublesome joints.
Dogs’ Lyme Disease Treatment
 
Unless their condition is precarious, your dog will receive outpatient Lyme disease treatment once the diagnosis is made (e.g., severe kidney disease). The most typical antibiotic administered for Lyme disease is doxycycline, but there are other medicines that work just as well.
 
Treatment typically lasts at least four weeks, and in some circumstances, longer courses may be required. If your dog is particularly unhappy, your veterinarian may also recommend an anti-inflammatory.
 
Sadly, treatment with antibiotics does not usually entirely cure the infection brought on by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It is possible for symptoms to go away only to reappear at a later time, and kidney disease development is a constant worry.
 
It is less likely that your dog will experience long-term effects if the medicines are given to him properly.
 
After 3 to 5 days of antibiotic therapy, the sudden (acute) inflammation of the joints brought on by Borrelia should improve. Your vet will want to reassess your dog if there is no improvement in 3–5 days.
 
Prevention of the Lyme Disease in Dogs
 
If at all possible, keep your dog away from areas where Lyme disease is common and ticks are a problem.
 
Ticks should be manually removed after being found by daily inspection of your dog's skin and coat.
 
The most effective way to prevent Lyme disease and protect pets from other tick-borne diseases is to use flea and tick prevention.
 
A range of prescription flea and tick treatments, like collars, topical treatments, and chewable tablets and chews that both kill and deter ticks, are available from your veterinarian. Under a veterinarian's supervision, and in accordance with the instructions on the package, these products should be used.
 
Lyme disease vaccines are readily available if you reside in a region where ticks are common. Not all canines, though, are suitable candidates for the vaccine. Ask your veterinarian if your dog should receive the Lyme vaccine.
 

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