Correctly Diagnosing Lyme Disease
A Lyme-literate doctor is a licensed board-certified medical doctor who also has a specialty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease with the most advanced equipment and technologies.
Lyme-literate doctors know how to get the correct diagnosis early, so you are not at risk for developing late-stage Lyme disease, which can be debilitating.
Most family practitioners test for Lyme disease using the only two tests available today, the ELISA and the Western Blot. Unfortunately, these tests are only accurate if the Lyme antibodies are active at the time of your test. If they are not active, your test can offer a negative result.
The results do not mean you are negative for Lyme disease. It means you were negative for the antibodies associated with Lyme. Lyme-literate doctors know the truth that antibodies can go inactive at times and hide in the walls of your bloodstream, going undetected by insufficient tests.
There are Lyme-literate doctors available who can help you get an accurate diagnosis. Some of the best doctors are outside the U.S., like Mexico, where leaders in the industry practice.
Do whatever it takes to meet with a Lyme-literate doctor because if your Lyme disease is misdiagnosed or goes untreated, your body will suffer.
Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Because Lyme disease may not cause any obvious clinical signs but can still be fatal, its important to test your dog every year for Lyme disease if you live in an endemic area, and 4-6 weeks after a known tick bite . Most testing is done based on clinical signs or history.
In the clinic, your vet will test for the presence of antibodies to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This is just a quick positive-or-negative snap test. If the result is positive, this means antibodies are present, and your vet may send a more specific test to the lab to determine the approximate number of antibodies. A high number indicates an active infection is likely, whereas a low number may indicate that your dog was previously exposed . Some dogs may retain antibodies to tick-borne bacteria for several years after being exposed.
Recovery And Management Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
You can expect to see improvement in mild cases of Lyme disease in dogs 3 to 5 days into antibiotic therapy. Severe cases may take longer and can be fatal if kidney damage is too advanced.
Antibiotics do not always eliminate Lyme disease. Dogs infected with Lyme disease will be prone to recurrence of the infection in the future, but antibiotics can be used again to treat the condition.
Owners can help manage their dogs condition by complying with their veterinarians advice and following the instructions on the medication. Learning to recognize the signs of Lyme disease will also help owners get their dogs started on medication as soon as possible to prevent serious side effects in the future.
Read Also: Lyme Disease Bell’s Palsy
Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
It has been suggested that in dogs, neurologic manifestations and myocarditis may be associated with Lyme disease, but these manifestations are uncommon and poorly understood. In dogs co-infected with other tick-borne pathogens , overall clinical signs can be worse and treatment complicated. Although cats in Lyme disease-endemic areas are commonly seropositive for B. burgdorferi, findings of associated clinical disease are rare or unclear. In cats experimentally infected with B. burgdorferi, no signs of clinical disease were observed 14 however, some practitioners in highly Lyme diseaseendemic areas report having seen cats displaying clinical signs of Lyme disease.15,16
Is There A Vaccine That Will Protect My Dog From Lyme Disease
A safe and generally effective vaccine is available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two- to four-week intervals.
“Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity.”
Annual revaccination is necessary to maintain immunity. Vaccination against Lyme disease will be determined by your pet’s lifestyle and individual risk assessment. Be sure to discuss any questions you may have regarding the type and frequency of vaccination with your veterinarian.
|Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM Ernest Ward, DVM|
Recommended Reading: Is There A Home Test For Lyme Disease
What Exactly Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, or Borreliosis, is a very infectious disease in dogs that comes from exposure to ticks. It has many dominant symptoms that you can quickly notice in your dog, mainly lameness in the joins. Its one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases, but despite that, it still only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. The ticks get into the dogs bloodstream through a bite and once in the bloodstream, the bacteria travels to different parts of the body and cause stiffness in specific joints and overall illnesses.
When a dog has Lyme disease, it suffers from inflammation in the joints, which means recurring lameness. This is a horrible sensation for dogs to feel and alongside it, they can also suffer from loss of appetite and depression, just to name a few. You dont want your furry friends to suffer from Lyme disease since its a very uncomfortable disease that can escalate into something fast, so its good to spot any red flags as early as possible.
When not detected on time, complications can arise from Lyme disease such as kidney problems, heart diseases, and nervous system failures. These are very rare but Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, or Bernese Mountain Dogs are unfortunately more at risk for kidney-related problems caused by Lyme disease.
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.
Also Check: How To Determine If You Have Lyme Disease
Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Symptoms generally start to appear two to five months after your doghas been bitten by a tick that carried the bacteria. It is important tonote, however, that not all tick bites cause Lyme disease, though it isalways important to check for ticks and to use preventative measures tostop insect bites.
Early stages: Early signs that your dog is infected with Lymedisease include lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, lameness,depression, swollen joints , sensitivity to touch, stiffness and enlarged lymph nodes.
Later stages: Chronic stiffness and inflammation in the joints andlameness may be recurrent problems later in the stages of Lyme disease.Kidney and neurological problems, and heart disease are rare sideeffects.
Is Lyme Disease Likely
The chances that your dog will contract Lyme disease after one tick bite is impossible to say. Most tick species don’t carry the causative bacteria, but how long the tick is attached is also a factor in the disease transmission.
Dogs can serve as a meal for many different species of ticks, but according to National Geographic, it is black-legged deer ticks that transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. If you’re unsure if your home area is native to the black-legged deer tick , consult this map provided by the CDC.
Don’t Miss: What Doctor Do You See For Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease Symptoms In Dogs
One of the main symptoms of Lyme disease is limping in dogs, which can be alarming when first spotted. With Lyme disease, lameness is ongoing and can last anywhere from three to four days but sometimes, even goes on for weeks on end. It can worsen in the same leg or move on to other legs. If it jumps to other legs, then its often called shifting-leg lameness.
This lameness causes extreme discomfort, because lameness often causes a dogs legs to feel swollen, warm, and painful. If you see your dog suddenly limping, dont assume that they injured their paw or got tired from running too much at the park. It might be something more serious, like Lyme disease.
How can you tell whether they injured themselves or if its Lyme disease? If your dog is consistently lifting the same leg, then hes probably just injured it. But if the leg pain is shifting around and shifts from one leg to the next, it could be a sign of shifting-leg-lameness and actually a result from Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can also cause kidney problems in dogs. Dog kidney disease comes with a host of other problems like diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and fluid build-ups.
Some general symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs include:
- Stiff walking with an arched back
- Sensitivity to touch
- Nervous system complications
Stage : Changing Skin
In stage 3, few signs of Lyme disease appear on the skin. Most problems occur in the heart and nervous system, and these can be serious.
Where you see signs on your skin: If you were in Europe when bit by a tick, you may see changes to your skin in this late stage. These changes usually appear on a hand or foot. Some people develop this change on both of their hands or feet. It can also occur on a knee, elbow, or elsewhere.
What the skin looks like: The skin begins to swell, and you may notice some redness. These signs are caused by having a bacterial infection for a long time. The affected skin may also feel sore.
In time, the skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form. If you have hair in the area, it tends to fall out. The sweat glands can die, and the skin often becomes so thin that it tears easily. The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitischronical atrophicans.
In stage 3, you may also see tumors on your skin. It is believed that the long-term infection and swelling in the lymph nodes can lead to a cancer known as cutaneous B-cell lymphoma.
Skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form
The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitis chronical atrophicans. Swelling, hardened skin, and deep lines on the foot of someone who has had Lyme disease for years.
When you see signs of changing skin and symptoms: These tend to occur months or years after you are bitten by a tick.
Also Check: How Long After A Tick Bite Lyme Disease
Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
The symptoms of Lyme disease vary. While many dogs infected with Lyme disease may not exhibit any symptoms, others may show severe signs, including:
Bruising or unexplained bleeding
Lameness, painful or swollen joints, fever, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and lethargy are the most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs and can range in severity. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to more serious symptoms, like damage to the kidney or the heart and nervous system.
Lyme disease commonly affects the kidneys more than the nervous system or heart. Unfortunately, it is often fatal. In cases of Lyme disease that affect the nervous system, seizure disorders and facial paralysis can occur.
How You Can Help Your Pet
The best prevention for avoiding this disease is to utilize year-round tick prevention and to inspect your dog daily for ticks, which are commonly found about the face and ears. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the tick prevention that will best fit your dogs lifestyle and make sure you are using a product that is safe and effective. The Lyme disease vaccine can also be discussed as a component of your preventative strategy.
Lyme Disease Symptoms: 3 Signs To Look Out For As Risk Increased In Hot Weather
Lyme disease is an infection spread by ticks and is potentially life-threatening. Because the risk is increased in hot weather, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms
The reason why Lyme disease is more likely during these summer months including May, June, July, and August is that people are spending more time outside potentially in wooded area where these ticks are found.
Although Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, some patients later develop conditions with long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain and cognitive issues.
Such conditions have been linked to post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, sometimes called chronic Lyme disease.
However, unlike other insect bites where the rash appears within hours, Lyme disease rashes can sometimes arise weeks or months after the tick bite.
There are a number of lesser-known early warning signs which may be attributed to the disease.
Lyme disease symptoms may include both joint pain and stiffness.
The joints may also be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful and swollen.
The pain has been described as not severe, however, transitory.
Most often the large joints are affected with one or more experiencing the unusual sensation.
What Is The Best Way To Prevent Canine Lyme Disease
- Prevent ticks from transmitting disease with one of our veterinary-approved flea and tick medications.
- Get your dog vaccinated.
- Inspect your dog for ticks after walks through wooded trails. Check your dog under their collar, under their tail, between their toes, under their legs and elbows.
- Remove ticks immediately. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will be infected. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers and learn the proper method of tick removal.
- At your next vet visit, ask our veterinarian to conduct a tick check during the exam. Well be able to find any you may have missed.
- Keep your grass mowed and refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas.
Meet the Team
Read Also: Chances Of Getting Lyme Disease From A Tick
Summary Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease is transmitted via tick bites, and can cause lameness, swollen joints and even kidney failure. While it can be treated if the case is not too severe, prevention is best. The best way to prevent an infection is to reduce your dogs exposure to ticks and stay up-to-date on monthly preventatives and Lyme vaccinations.
Major Test Of First Possible Lyme Vaccine In 20 Years Begins
Robert Terwilliger, right, of Williamsburg, Pa., who is participating in a Lyme disease vaccine trial at the Altoona Center for Clinical Research, is injected with either the new vaccine or a placebo, by registered nurse Janae Roland on Friday in Duncansville, Pa. Lyme is a growing problem, with cases steadily rising and warming weather helping ticks expand their habitat.
DUNCANSVILLE, Pa. Researchers are seeking thousands of volunteers in the U.S. and Europe to test the first potential vaccine against Lyme disease in 20 years — in hopes of better fighting the tick-borne threat.
Lyme is a growing problem, with cases rising and warming weather helping ticks expand their habitat. While a vaccine for dogs has long been available, the only Lyme vaccine for humans was pulled off the U.S. market in 2002 from lack of demand, leaving people to rely on bug spray and tick checks.
Now Pfizer and French biotech Valneva are aiming to avoid previous pitfalls in developing a new vaccine to protect both adults and kids as young as 5 from the most common Lyme strains on two continents.
There wasnt such a recognition, I think, of the severity of Lyme disease” and how many people it affects the last time around, Pfizer vaccine chief Annaliesa Anderson told The Associated Press.
Recommended Reading: Medicine For Lyme Disease In Humans
Warning Signs Of Untreated Lyme Disease In Dogs
Both humans and dogs are susceptible to a bacterial illness known as Lyme disease. The illness, which is transmitted by certain species of ticks, can create a number of health complications throughout the body, especially when left undiagnosed and untreated.
Identifying the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can be more complicated than with humans, though, due to the different ways the illness may affect your pets health and produce symptoms. But identifying Lyme disease is crucial to getting your dog effective treatment for this condition. Avoiding doing so may lead to rare but serious health complications that may affect your dogs quality of life or even put their life at risk. Take a few minutes to educate yourself on the common Lyme symptoms in dogs, and what you can do to treat and prevent this condition.
What Are The Second Stage Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of second stage, early disseminated, Lyme disease can be difficult to attribute. Symptoms include severe fatigue, fever, pain, intermittent weakness and achiness of the muscles and joints, numbness in arms and legs, vision changes, and cognitive dysfunction such as short-term memory difficulties and problems multitasking. These symptoms are not specific for Lyme disease and can make the diagnosis of second stage Lyme disease very challenging.
More recognizable Lyme disease nervous system manifestations include facial paralysis , or meningitis with severe headache and stiff neck. Notable cardiac manifestations include passing out or feeling faint from an abnormally slow heart rate, irregular heart palpitations, or unexplained difficulty tolerating exercise. Meningitis and carditis are both potentially serious Lyme disease conditions and warrant immediate medical attention.
Recommended Reading: Infectious Disease Doctor Lyme Disease
Read Also: Cutter Lyme Disease Tick Test
Are There Any Chronic Long
Untreated Lyme disease infections can cause permanent damage to your dog’s joints, including chronic inflammation and arthritis. This is obviously painful for your dog.
The scariest potential long-term effect of Lyme disease is Lyme nephritis. In dogs with Lyme nephritis, the Lyme-causing bacteria settle in the kidneys, causing damage and eventually kidney failure. This condition is usually fatal, and we don’t know why some dogs develop it while others do not. Thankfully Lyme nephritis is fairly uncommon, but Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and mixes with these breeds in their heritage like Labradoodles and goldendoodles are at an increased risk.
Signs of Lyme nephritis include:
Elevated creatinine and BUN on bloodwork
If your dog has tested positive for Lyme, especially if he is a Lab, golden, or mix of one of these breeds, you should have his urine checked regularly for protein.
More rarely, untreated Lyme disease can also cause neurological signs such as seizures and poor balance and cardiac signs such as arrhythmias or heart failure.