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Can Dogs Survive Lyme Disease

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The Critters That Cause This And How They Pass It On

Dogs can get a Lyme disease vaccine. Why cant humans?

The problem starts with the Ixodes species of tick . These critters carry the bacteria that cause Lyme: specifically a gram negative spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi . This infectious agent multiplies within the tick and will enter the animal at the end of the ticks feeding cycle . The agent then replicates in the skin at the tick bite site followed by migration through the tissue. Lyme disease is endemic to the northeastern United States , north central states and northern California.

Lyme does not begin to show signs in a dog for weeks to months following infection. The most common signs are fever, lack of appetite and joint pain. The most serious possible consequence of infection with Lyme disease is glomerular disease leading to renal failure .

How Is Canine Lyme Disease Treated And Prevented

Because Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics, once an animal has been examined and tested positive. The antibiotic of choice for canines is doxycycline. Treatment lasts for up to 4 weeks.

The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic offers a comprehensive Cabbagetown Care Program, which includes a canine Lyme vaccination. This is the only way to assure dogs in endemic and expansion areas, such as Toronto, are protected.

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

Dogs often carry Lyme disease without showing any symptoms at all . That said, other dogs can suffer from a range of painful symptoms. If your dog has contracted Lyme disease, they may show one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Breathing difficulties

If your pooch is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet to book an examination.

If left untreated, the effects of Lyme disease in dogs can be serious or even life-threatening. Untreated the condition can lead to kidney failure, serious heart problems and neurological issues in dogs.

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Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks

Ticks can also carry several other less common but serious bacterial diseases affecting dogs, including anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Anaplasmosis can involve symptoms similar to those for Lyme disease. Babesiosis can present with a wide range of symptoms, from sudden and severe shock, high fever, and dark urine to a slowly progressing infection with more subtle clinical signs. Diagnosis of both diseases includes blood tests similar to those used to check for Lyme disease.

Sometimes, dogs and people can become sick with co-infection of multiple tick-borne diseases, where more than one type of disease-causing bacteria is transmitted through a tick bite. This situation can make diagnosis and treatment even more challenging and difficult.

How Does Lyme Disease Affect Dogs

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Common Symptoms

Humans infected with Lyme disease often develop a bulls-eye rash, but this is not typically observed in infected dogs. Lyme disease targets the joints, causing chronic arthritis. The most common clinical sign in dogs is sudden lameness, but other symptoms may also be observed:

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Can I Get Lyme Disease From My Dog

No. Although pets particularly dogs can contract Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they can spread the infection directly to people. However, pets can carry infected ticks into homes and yards increasing your chance of getting bitten.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when venturing into wooded hiking trails with your dog:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Pull your socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs
  • Wear light-coloured clothes to identify ticks easier
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET
  • Shower within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks
  • Do daily full-body check for ticks on yourself, your children and your pets

Can My Dog Recover From Lyme Disease

If you are able to detect the disease early, symptoms should disappear within the first 3 days of your pup’s treatment.

However, while treatment is usually very effective at eliminating signs of Lyme disease, dogs with Lyme disease can remain positive for the rest of their lives. If your dog tests positive for Lyme disease but is not showing any symptoms, your vet may not recommend treatment.

Most dogs infected with Lyme disease will eventually develop arthritis.

However, potentially serious kidney issues can result from a dog carrying Lyme disease. It is easy for these problems to go unnoticed until it is too late. If your vet identified that your dogs kidneys have been affected by Lyme disease, they will be able to monitor and treat the condition before more serious problems arise.

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How Is Acute Lyme Disease Treated

In cases of acute and subacute Lyme disease, the infection is usually cured after a round of antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for Lyme are doxycycline and amoxicillin, and treatment usually lasts between four and eight weeks. Within a few days after beginning the antibiotics, symptoms will begin to improve, but the full course of medication must be completed to ensure that the infection doesnt return.

Your dog may still seem pained and uncomfortable while taking the antibiotics, but vets dont usually prescribe painkillers for Lyme disease. Because its so difficult to diagnose Lyme disease, the symptoms need to be carefully monitored during treatment to ensure that the Lyme bacteria truly caused them. Painkillers will mask the symptoms, causing them to appear as if theyre improving, even if they arent. So Vets are hesitant to use them concurrently with antibiotics.

If symptoms dont resolve after a round of antibiotics, or if they clear up and then return later, the dog may be rediagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. However, even if symptoms never recur, the dog is still likely to carry small amounts of the bacteria for the rest of its life, as antibiotics rarely eliminate the infection.

What Leads To Dog Lyme Disease

Ask the Vet: Lyme Disease Signs

Several different types of ticks can transmit the bacterial disease Lyme disease. Lyme disease can be sent by ticks to people and other animals, although it is much more common diseases caused by animals.An infected tick transfers the infection from its own body to the blood of a healthy dog when it bites the animal and burrows itself in the dog skin disease hair loss. Your dog may become seriously ill as the infection spreads throughout the body, contributing to the symptoms frequently linked to Lyme disease. So, how can you get your dog sick?

Table 1 Test based infection rate of dogs you need to know


There are some stages of Lyme disease from bite to after some day

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How Much Does It Cost To Treat Lyme Disease

A long treatment course sounds pricey, doesnt it? The initial bloodwork for the Lyme disease test costs around $80. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, you must focus on treatment for your dogs Lyme disease.

Antibiotics arent cheap, and in some areas, a two-week supply can cost $400 or more. Blood tests are also needed, which cost about $80, and an exam fee can be $40 or more. How can you reduce these costs?

Consider pet insurance for this or any potential emergency you and your pet may happen upon. So long as it was not a pre-existing condition, pet insurance companies will pay for treatment medications, blood tests and potentially exam fees.

Vets Don’t Always Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs

It may seem counterintuitive, but a Lyme diagnosis for your pet doesn’t always mean that the vet is going to treat your pet with antibiotics.

“When we find a dog that’s positive on a SNAP test for Lyme disease, then we have a conversation with the owners about whether to treat that dog or not,” explains Bloom, who says he talks about Lyme with pet owners in his area three to five times a day. “You know, it’s unfortunately a very complicated subject and we don’t have a great understanding of it. There are not enough studies that have been done to really explain it for us. But in general, if a dog tests positive and doesn’t show any clinical signs of Lyme disease which would be specifically fever, lethargy, inappetence, and stiffness in joints that can change from day to day, moving from one joint to another we typically leave them alone.”

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How To Manage Lyme Disease:

Keep the Following Points in Mind If the owner thinks my dog has Lyme disease:

  • Most pets who get a positive Lyme test do not become ill, and treatment is only necessary for those who show indications of sickness.
  • Any indications of limping, swelling joints, laziness, or decreased appetite should be reported to Animal Hospital.
  • Your dog will not harm you and your family. DONT PANIC!
  • Tick prevention is critical to preventing a recurrence of the disease as you know, dog ticks carry Lyme disease. To keep your dog safe from contracting Lyme disease, you should perform tick inspections daily, remove ticks as soon as they are discovered, and use the finest tick preventatives available.

Ways To Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs

Everything You Need To Know About Lyme Disease In Dogs

Some of the best ways to prevent ticks and Lyme disease for your dogs are:

  • Avoiding higher risk areas during warmer seasons
  • Checking the dog for ticks every day, but especially after walks in high risk areas
  • Manage your landscape: remove leafs, dirt, vegetative covers and similar
  • Prevent wildlife from entering your yard by using barriers and fences
  • Use acaricides that contain permethrin like SaverPak or Control Solutions they are very effective at killing ticks and are safe for dogs
  • Consider routinely vaccinating your dog against the disease but keep in mind that scientists are currently debating whether vaccines are worth it to prevent Lyme in dogs due to potentially increasing the risk of Lyme nephropathy in dogs, especially for breeds that are more at risk.

Below are some more tips in detail on how to prevent Lyme disease in dogs and prevent exposure to ticks on a daily basis.

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Lyme Disease From Tick Larvae

Ticks arent born with Lyme Disease. They too get it from another living organism.

In the spring, ticks lay their eggs. By late summer the larvae hatch and are ready to feed. They wait on the ground for a small mammal or bird to arrive and brush up against it.

The larva will attach itself to the small animal and begin feeding over the next few days. If this animal has Lyme disease, the larva will carry the bacterium in its stomach. Mice and ground-feeding birds often serve as spirochete hosts. When the tick attaches to its next host, the bacterium transfers into the blood of the new host.

Larvae are very hard to detect as they are no larger than a period in a print magazine.

Prevalence Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

In the United States, ~30,000 to 40,000 cases of human Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year,3 and reported cases are estimated to represent only 10% of the actual number.4 Most human Lyme disease cases are clustered in the New England, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions, where during 1993 to 2012, the number of high-risk counties increased by more than 300%.5 Because of their close association, humans and dogs share many of the same risk factors for encountering B. burgdorferiinfected ticks thus, dogs serve as excellent sentinels for human Lyme disease risk.6 This association is highlighted by comparing maps of Lyme disease cases for humans 3 with maps of B. burgdorferi seroprevalence among dogs .7

Figure 3. Reported cases of Lyme disease, United States, 2018.3

Figure 4. Seroprevalence of Borellia burgdorferi among dogs, United States, 2018. Of serologic diagnostic tests submitted in 2018, 5.64% were positive for B. burgdorferi.7 Photo Courtesy Companion Animal Parasite Council.

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How Will The Vet Treat Lyme Disease

It is important to remember that just because a dog tests positive for Lyme disease, it does not mean that treatment is always recommended. If your dog is clinically normal, many vets will recommend monitoring. If you are concerned your dog is showing clinical signs of Lyme disease and has tested positive, your veterinarian may recommend an antibody test called a Lyme Quant C6. This is a qualitative test looking at actual levels of antibodies to determine if they are high enough to justify treatment. At my clinic, the cost for this test is around $200.

If your dog is clinical for Lyme disease and/or has a high antibody level, treatment will be recommended. Treatment consists of a month-long course of antibiotics typically doxycycline. This medication is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at most human pharmacies with a prescription. A fast response is typically seen where joint pain and swelling will improve a few days after initiation of therapy. Dogs with joint pain should receive adequate medication for pain control.

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How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented

Lyme disease in the dog. Dr. Dan explains Lyme disease

Tick control and prevention methods significantly reduce the likelihood of infection. Maintaining antibodies against B. burgdorferi through vaccination can further protect your animal. Antibody amounts and duration of vaccine antibodies can vary in individuals. Verifying your animals antibody response to vaccination helps to assure durable protection.

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Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian

If your dog has a positive Lyme test but no symptoms of the disease or protein in the urine, ask your veterinarian why he or she is recommending treatment. Experts currently recommend against antibiotic therapy under these circumstances because the dogs immune system is holding the bacteria in check and antibiotics are unable to eliminate the infection.

Dogs who have contracted Lyme disease do not develop prolonged, protective immunity and can be reinfected at a later date. Talk to your veterinarian about how best to prevent future infections. Options include measures to prevent the ticks that carry Lyme disease from biting your dog and Lyme vaccination.

Facts Every Dog Owner Should Know About Lyme Disease

May 1, 2019

Each year, Avets internal medicine department treats a number of dogs with Lyme disease in the spring, summer, and fall months. Lyme disease can cause significant illness and death if infection is not prevented. Do you know how to protect your furry friend from this warm-weather threat?

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Dogs All Over The World Contract Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is not just a U.S. problem. According to Dr. Marconi, there are three variants of Lyme that are rapidly spreading into Canada and Europepossibly due to migratory birds carrying the infected ticks to far-off places and across the ocean.

Lyme is named for Lyme, Connecticut, and while we typically think of the northeast as being a hotbed for Lyme cases, every state in the country has reported documented cases.

There is a misnomer that because I live in X state, my dog cant have Lyme disease. People make the same mistake, assuming they are safe based on geography. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth for both dogs and their human owners.

Ive heard horror stories of humans having a tough time getting a diagnosishaving to go for a second, and third, and even fourth opinionbecause a doctor may think, We dont see tick-borne disease in this area, so its pointless to test for it. The reality is that Lyme is rapidly becoming a serious problem throughout the United States and worldwide.

Lyme disease in dogs: the statistics

The Companion Animal Parasite Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of parasites in dogs and cats and reducing the risk of transmitting these parasites and diseases to humans.

Based on research from the CAPC, Dr. Marconi shared there are around 915,000 antibody-positive Lyme disease tests in dogs annually. Let that sink in. There are almost a million positive Lyme tests in dogs every year!

What Can I Do To Remove A Tick From My Dog

Lyme disease other tick diseases continue to spread across the U.S.

Immediately following a tick-infested region, check your pet for ticks. In the juvenile stage, the deer tick is only about the size of a pinhead, but it becomes more noticeable as an adult and after feeding. Your pets ticks are migrating if they havent been provided. Crush or place the tick in rubbing alcohol as soon as you notice it, then remove it as quickly as possible. Remove a tick from your dog by firmly grasping it with your fingernails or tiny tweezers near the skin and pulling it out of the dogs body. its also feasible to use equipment like Tick tornado and Tick Key. Make an appointment with your local animal hospital if you have any doubts about removing the tick.

To keep your fingers safe, you can use tissue or disposable gloves. With the help of another adult, restrain your dog. Remove tick ASAP as the illness is only transmitted after the tick has eaten for roughly 12 hours. Do not get any of the ticks blood on your skin if you crush the tick. Wounds and skin cuts are entry points for Lyme disease-causing bacteria. For more dog health information, visit .

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How Are Dogs Tested For Lyme Disease

Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing Lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.

The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called C6. Presence of the antibodies suggests an active Lyme infection. The C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after an infected tick bites a dog and may be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.

The next step is to do a Quant C6 test. This, along with urinalysis will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.

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