What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Dogs can display several forms of Lyme disease, but the most common symptoms are lameness, swollen lymph nodes, joint swelling, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In addition, serious kidney complications have been associated with Lyme disease in dogs.
Clinical signs of Lyme disease in horses include shifting-leg lameness, generalized stiffness, hypersensitivity to touch, weight loss, and poor performance. Sometimes, the bacteria can infect the central nervous system, leading to neurologic symptoms.
Most Dogs Dont Get Lyme Disease Symptoms Even When They Have Lyme Disease
In 2006, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania infected beagles with Lyme disease.
None of the adult dogs showed any signs of Lyme disease even though they had Lyme disease.
The only dogs in the group that showed any signs of Lyme disease were the puppies and after four days of on and off symptoms, every puppy showed no signs of Lyme disease.
This is likely because puppies have immature immune systems. So while Lyme is common, the disease isnt.
But what about dogs who already test positive for Lyme?
Meryl Littman was the lead researcher and explains 95% of exposed dogs dont get sick, but they become Lyme antibody-positive on tests, which may scare people into thinking they need to be treated.
In fact, 70% 90% of dogs in some areas of New England test positive for Lyme. About 40% of dogs in Pennsylvania test positive.
Arthritis Caused By Lyme Disease
There are many causes for arthritis, and your veterinarian will focus on differentiating arthritis initiated by Lyme disease from other inflammatory arthritic disorders, such as trauma and degenerative joint disease.
Immune-mediated diseases will also be considered as a possible cause of the symptoms. X-rays of the painful joints will allow your doctor to examine the bones for abnormalities.
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Diagnosis Of Lyme Borreliosis
In 2006, a consensus statement on Lyme disease in dogs, which addressed a series of questions on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease, was published by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.1 However, that document failed to provide a clear definition of what constitutes a diagnosis of canine Lyme borreliosis.
The recent introduction of laboratory-based and point-of-care testing technologies has added to the confusion over whether treatment is indicated when a serologic test result is positive in a dog.
How Long Can A Dog Live With Lyme Disease
Most dogs with acute or subacute Lyme disease will live just as long as dogs without the disease. Once the initial symptoms are cleared up by antibiotics, the bacteria may still be present in the body but in such small concentrations that it wont cause any ill effects. Overall, there is no decrease in either life expectancy or quality of life for dogs with these forms of Lyme disease.
Chronic Lyme and Lyme nephritis are still poorly researched conditions, and its not known exactly how they impact life expectancy. These forms of the disease ultimately cause kidney failure, which is the primary cause of death for many dogs with Lyme. Once diagnosed with kidney failure, dogs can live for up to four years, though many succumb to the disease within months or even weeks.
Lyme nephritis, in particular, is a painful condition, and the kidney damage it causes requires costly ongoing treatment and testing. Many owners of dogs with Lyme nephritis opt to euthanize rather than prolong the dogs suffering.
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Does My Dog Really Need To Be Tested For All Of These Diseases
Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in every state in the United States, so veterinarians across the country routinely screen dogs for heartworm infection. However, many of the tick-borne diseases are regional, so not all dogs are at risk for exposure to the same diseases. Your veterinarian can tell you about the risk of Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis to dogs in your area. In some cases, your veterinarian may not recommend testing for all of the diseases. Even if you live in an area where tick-borne diseases are less common, be sure to ask your veterinarian what tick prevention measures can help protect your dog.
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
Should You Get The Lyme Vaccine For Your Dog
I cant tell you what to do although there are a lot of folks who try to
If you visit the Pets & Parasites website, youll see some pretty scary things like this
The folks at Pets & Parasites arent the most creative bunch, because here was their 2017 forecast
And their 2016 forecast
Pets & Parasites deliver the same message every year and just change the date. How can Lyme disease be that scary when most dogs will never get sick? Even when they test positive for Lyme.
Why all the fuss about Lyme if it doesnt really affect dogs? Companion Animal Parasite Council publishes The Pets & Parasites website. And this council is sponsored by companies who make tick products they want you to buy.
You might think Im biased when it comes to vaccines and that would be true but Im nowhere near as biased as the huge corporations that make billions of dollars off dogs and cats each year! And dont think theyll share my little secret that 95% of dogs with Lyme disease will NEVER develop any symptoms theres no money in that message.
But they will try to scare you and your vet every year, so youll run out and get their spot ons and vaccines.
But now I hope you know better than to get caught up in the propaganda.
So, will you vaccinate your dog for Lyme this year?
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Do Antibodies To B Burgdorferi Determine Active Infection
In untreated animals, antibodies to OspC and/or OspF are indicators of infection with B. burgdorferi. Many infected animals dont show clinical signs and maintain constant antibody levels to the pathogen. It is believed that many animals can control the persistent infection. However, increasing antibody values indicate re-activation of or re-infection with the pathogen.
In treated animals, antibody levels decrease slowly and are usually still detectable for several months if treatment was successful.
How Will You Know If Its Lyme
Class signs of Lyme disease in a dog include loss of appetite, listlessness, and limping. Sometimes a dog will have what is commonly referred to as shifting leg lameness. A dog will become lame on one leg , and the lameness will resolve on its own, only to show up days or even weeks later on either the same leg or a different limb. The dog may also exhibit a stiff gait or an arched back, and, usually, fever. In rare cases Lyme disease in dogs has been associated with kidney failure a life-threatening complication.
Bear in mind that you might not be thinking about tick bites when signs start to appear. Your dog may have been bitten by a tick in the dead of summer yet not start to feel ill till after Christmas since theres a long lag between infection and signs of sickness. Of course, she may also start to feel sick during the warm-weather months. Ticks can bite at any time of year. Yes, tick season extends from spring through early fall, but all you need is a day or two of weather approaching or exceeding the freezing mark during the dead of winter, and a tick will be able to do its thing. Thus, a tick can bite a dog during ski season in February, but the dog wont start to have any signs until July 4th. Those signs are not from the tick that just bit her.
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How Long Does It Take For Lyme Disease To Present Symptoms
Once infected with the bacteria, your dog will take two to five months to start displaying any symptoms of Lyme disease. This is the stage where bacteria is present in the body but not actively causing symptoms. Because of this, there can be quite a long gap in between the tick bite and the first signs.
Kidney Damage Caused By Lyme Disease
More serious complications, although uncommon, include:
- Damage to the kidneys
- Rarely, heart or nervous system disease 1,2
Lyme disease sometimes leads to glomerulonephritisthe inflammation and accompanying dysfunction of the kidney’s glomeruli .
Eventually, kidney failure may set in as the dog begins to exhibit signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups that can appear as swollen limbs.
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Canine Lyme Disease: How Real Is The Threat
Canine Lyme disease, also called canine Lyme borreliosis, is among the most familiar tick transmitted infections known to occur in humans and dogs residing in North America.
Despite being the subject of review articles,1,2 research studies, scientific proceedings, and symposia, canine Lyme borreliosis continues to generate considerable controversy in clinical practice, particularly as it pertains to exposure risk, diagnosis, consequences of infection, and even prevention. This article addresses key controversies and current recommendations regarding management of dogs at risk for canine Lyme borreliosis.
Is It Possible For Dogs To Be Reinfected
Since Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, its possible for a dog to re-contract Lyme disease from another infected tick after being treated for it for a previous infection. Even if a dog has contracted Lyme disease in the past, this does not protect them from being infected in the future. This is why preventing infected ticks from biting your dog is so important.
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If My Animal Is Positive On The Assay Should He/she Be Treated For Lyme Disease
If your animal is displaying clinical signs of Lyme disease and is positive on the Lyme Multiplex assay, it is advisable to discuss treatment options with your veterinarian. If your animal appears healthy, discuss the risks and benefits of treatment and develop a monitoring plan with your veterinarian.
The Clinical Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease
Misconception: Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis that should be made based on a list of symptoms.
Science: No clinical features, except erythema migrans or possibly bilateral facial nerve palsyin the appropriate contextprovide sufficient specificity or positive predictive value. Laboratory confirmation is essential except with erythema migrans.
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What Are Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
When it comes to Lyme disease, dogs are often asymptomatic . However, here are some common signs of Lyme disease in dogs:
- Lack of appetite and depression
- General discomfort or malaise
- Lameness due to inflamed joints
- Sensitivity to touch
- Difficulty breathing
If your dog is displaying symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your vet to schedule an examination. Left untreated, signs of Lyme disease in dogs can progress to kidney failure and even be fatal in severe cases. Serious neurological impacts and cardiac effects may also take place due to untreated Lyme disease.
How Do I Remove A Tick From My Dog
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The deer tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but is a little more obvious in the adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. There are also tools available called Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be useful. However, take care to use them cautiously as twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. See your veterinarian if you are unsure or unable to remove the tick from your dog.
Make sure you protect your fingers from exposure by using a tissue or a disposable glove.You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease does not appear to be transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin.
Note: The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.
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Dog Lyme Disease Diagnosis
Your vet will diagnose the Lyme disease by reviewing your dogs medical history and the results of blood tests. Blood tests detect antibodies produced by the dogs system in response to the bacteria. Your veterinarian will run a combination of blood chemistry tests, a urinalysis, a complete blood cell count, fecal examinations, X-rays and other tests that are specific to diagnosing Lyme disease in dogs .
Your vet may also draw fluid from the affected joints for analysis. One of the most common blood tests used by veterinary hospitals is called the IDEXX SNAP® 4Dx® Plus“. This test can be run in-house and provides quick results . Also, these tests screen for additional tick-related diseases and heartworm disease. Your veterinarian might recommend some further tests, mainly based on your dog’s signs and symptoms.
Some of these tests include:
Blood parasite screening to determine if your dog has tick-borne and other infections
Chemistry tests to assess liver, kidney, and pancreatic functions, as well as sugar levels
Quantitative Lyme antibody levels for monitoring treatment response
A few fecal tests to rule out the presence of intestinal parasites
Lyme Disease Treatment For Dogs
Fortunately, treatment of most cases of canine Lyme disease is very simple: a three- to four-week course of antibiotics. Even if the dog has had signs of disease for quite some time, she should respond very quickly, within the first 48 hours of starting antibiotic therapy, and recovery will in the great majority of cases be complete. There will generally be no residual effects of the illness.
The one Lyme-related situation for which administration of antibiotics wont work is if the infection is associated with kidney damage . It isnt certain that the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease are what cause the kidney syndrome. It may be a different pathogen transmitted with tick bites. But in very rare cases, a dog will die from kidney complications having to do with a tick borne infection. Dr. Stone at Tufts is one of the veterinarians conducting research into the problem and how to treat it successfully. Specifically, he is investigating a different bacteria associated with tick bites, Babesia microti, as the possible cause of Lyme nephritis. According to Dr. Stone, the association of kidney failure and Lyme disease is incompletely understood, and much more work needs to be done.
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Are There Tests For Lyme Disease
Several different blood tests are used when diagnosing Lyme disease. None of the tests are definitive, as they only measure whether or not a dog has been exposed to the bacteria they are unable to say for sure whether Lyme disease is the cause of any symptoms or whether it will cause symptoms in the future. In areas with high concentrations of ticks, 75% or more of dogs can test positive for the disease, though only 5% of those dogs may ever be symptomatic.
Blood tests may also show false positives in dogs that have received certain Lyme disease vaccines. Occasionally, testing may produce a false negative result, particularly if a Lyme-carrying tick bit the dog within the past four weeks. The bacteria require about four weeks of incubation before it accumulates in detectable levels.
Reducing Future Lyme Disease Risks
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Is Treatment 100% Effective
Scientists are divided on this topic. Some studies suggest that that even long-term antibiotics may not completely clear infection dogs may get sick again at some point after antibiotic treatment is stopped. Other studies suggest that complete clearance of infection is possible with antibiotic treatment. Further research is required to answer this question.
|Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM Kristiina Ruotsalo, DVM, DVSc, Dip ACVP Margo S. Tant, BSc, DVM, DVSc