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How to Treat Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats

Lyme disease is one of the commonly tick-borne diseases, particularly among dogs. If you suspect your pet may have contracted Lyme disease, here’s what you can expect from your visit to the vet and subsequent treatment.

Diagnosing Lyme disease

For owners, Lyme disease can be difficult to recognize for a number of reasons. The first is that many animals contract the disease, but do not develop any symptoms – this is particularly true of cats. The second is that there are other conditions that may cause painful joints, which is the most common symptom of Lyme disease. When speaking to your vet you will be asked to give a full history of the animal’s health, which will help to rule out other causes of joint pain such as injury or canine/feline arthritis.

The vet will conduct a complete blood profile, checking for any signs of bacterial infection, and may also need to perform urine tests, x-rays and an examination of the fluid in the joints.

Treatment for Lyme disease

Treatment for the disease itself is relatively straightforward. As Lyme disease is caused by bacteria, it can be controlled with a course of antibiotics. Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that vets prescribe, but amoxicillin may be used for pregnant, nursing or young animals. Symptoms should improve quite quickly after antibiotics have been started, within 1-2 days, but your pet will need to continue taking antibiotics for up to 4 weeks.

Successful treatment depends on early intervention, and even following treatment, it is not uncommon for symptoms to reoccur at a later date. The Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium cannot be completely eradicated by antibiotics but is only reduced to a point where it no longer causes disease. If your pet has previously contracted Lyme disease, you will need to continue to monitor them for signs that the disease has returned.

Symptomatic treatment

Depending on how severe or advanced the condition is, your pet may require treatment to alleviate symptoms or secondary conditions caused by Lyme disease. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is swelling and pain in the joints, and as such your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to assist with your pet’s pain and discomfort. In cases where Lyme disease is advanced enough to cause kidney issues, your pet may need a special diet or range of medication to slow the organ damage.


How to Treat Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats

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