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.
Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks
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 To Prevent Dogs From Having Ticks
While it is healthy to bring your dog out often to play, keeping them indoors most of the time is still the best way to avoid ticks. After a fun walk outside, thoroughly check them for any signs of ticks or itching as the longer a tick stays attached to your dog, the higher risk of developing a disease.
Ticks attach to grass, shrubs, etc., and latch on to nearby animals so it would be best to maintain a clean environment to avoid harboring ticks.
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Video Answer: Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Clinical signs of disease include fever, lethargy, low lymphocyte count and low platelet count .
Tick control is important in disease prevention.
Canine Hepatozoonosis is unique in that dogs must ingest the Tick to become infected with this disease.
Disinfecting the area. Keep in mind that any contact with the tick’s blood can potentially transmit an infection to your dog or even you. Treat the area with three-percent hydrogen peroxide, the common disinfectant. It is recommended for tick bites because the oxygen it contains destroys the Lyme disease bacteria.
Video Answer: How To Check Your Dog For Ticks
An over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment or spray can be applied after cleaning. If it worsens or doesn’t show signs of initial improvement in 1-2 days, seek care from your veterinarian. If you suspect that your dog’s tick bite is infected, contact your veterinarian immediately.
But with RMSF, the acute stage is the most serious.
Within two weeks of a bite, dogs may experience loss of appetite, cough, pinkeye, swelling of the legs and joints, seizures, skin lesions, and renal failure.
The good news is that it can be treated with antibiotics.
The bad news is that, untreated, it can be fatal.
This is because many of the warning signs that a dog is about to bite can be subtle and even appear friendly.
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Are There Different Kinds Of Ticks
Ticks are parasites that feed on warm-blooded hosts. They are related to mites and spiders because they are all arthropods. That means they have eight legs. There are many kinds of ticks. Some of the most common ticks in the U.S. include:
- Blacklegged tick, also known as deer ticks.
- Lone Star tick.
- Dog tick .
Ticks can vary in size and color. Some are larger. Some are brown or reddish-brown. Others are darker. Some have lighter markings on their backs.
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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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
Cofactors That Increase The Risk Of Lyme Disease
You now know that your dog is more likely to develop symptoms of Lyme disease if there is a coinfection. So of course, you want to know what these underlying cofactors are.
This is where it gets weird. Dr Rau discovered that certain vaccines were cofactors for Lyme disease. And that includes the tick-borne meningoencephalitis vaccine.
Now, it isnt known whether the Lyme vaccine for dogs is a cofactor. And thats because they conducted the research on the human population. But, we can tell you that the LYMERix human Lyme disease vaccine was only used for 18 months between 1998 and 2000. After that they pulled it off the market amidst reports of serious adverse events and because the vaccine may have caused Lyme-like arthritis.
And they have not developed a new Lyme vaccine for humans since. Did you catch that?
They pulled the human Lyme vaccine from the market because of safety concerns. Yet vaccination for Lyme disease is still recommended for your dogs.
Evidence is mounting that it could be this very vaccine that acts as a cofactor allowing Lyme to progress from flu-like symptoms into a debilitating disease.
Dr Rau explains the relationship in this short video:
Other important cofactors for Lyme disease include:
- Chronic inflammation
- Other bacteria and fungi
- Heavy metals and toxins
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What Happens To A Dog With Lyme Disease
When a dog gets Lyme disease, they may not show any symptoms for a while. Symptoms of Lyme disease tend to present after a few months, but only 5-10% of dogs who have Lyme disease will show symptoms. Treating Lyme disease early on is important because it minimizes the complications that result from Lyme.
While dogs with Lyme disease typically experience symptoms such as fever and lameness, these are just some of the complications that can arise from Lyme. Left untreated, Lyme in dogs can eventually cause issues with the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. These complications can lead to death in rare cases. Some dogs may also experience lifelong complications after contracting Lyme disease. However, most of the time dogs with Lyme are fine as long as you take them to the vet and get them started on antibiotics early on.
Small Bumps On The Skin
These small, oval-shaped arachnids change colour and size as they feed. The common ticks in Canada start off as small as an apple seed. Once they attach to a host and fill with blood, however, their body gets larger and engorged and turns a greyish colour. At this point they are much more visible and are around 1 cm in diameter.
Ticks attach to your dogs skin, so they are hidden by your dogs fur. For this reason, once they attach you are more likely to feel them on your dog before you can actually see them.
Carefully run your hands over your dogs body to feel for any small bumps on their skin which could be a tick. Ticks like to settle in specific areas, so pay particular attention to your dogs head, neck, groin, feet , armpits and ears.
You may want to use a flashlight to get a better look inside your dogs ear. If you spot a tick inside their ear you should bring your dog to your veterinarian rather than trying to remove it yourself.
Check your dog for ticks regularly, especially after walking through grassy or wooded areas where ticks live.
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Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease And Co
Lyme disease is a serious public health issue for people, but did you know its a threat to your pets, too? Dogs, cats, and other furry friends can and do get tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme and Lyme disease co-infections.
The increased heat and humidity of recent summers have already resulted in reports of increased cases of tick-borne illness in dogs in the U.S. In fact, there are three times as many cases of Lyme disease in dogs as there are in humans. And as many experts and vets point out, since ticks and fleas can easily migrate from pets to human owners, your pets health is intimately linked with your familys health.
Heres everything you need to know about ticks, tick-borne diseases, and your pets.
How Is Lyme Disease In Dogs Diagnosed
If you think your dog has been infected by a tick, and schedule an appointment. The vet will give your dog a physical exam and ask about the recent contact with ticks. Your vet will run two blood tests called the C6 Test and Quant C6 Test.
The C6 Test detects Lyme disease infection by checking for antibodies against a protein called C6. If your dog has been infected, these antibodies start to develop between two to five weeks after the tick bite. At this time, your dog might not even be showing any symptoms of Lyme disease. The Quant C6 Test follows, along with a urine test. A blood test can also check your dogâs kidney function. These results are used to decide the best course of treatment for your dog.
Other tests that can give Lyme disease in dogs prognosis include microscopy, culture isolation, and a PCR.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
If your pet has been exposed to ticks, you can look for the common signs of Lyme disease in dogs:
- Low energy
- Swollen lymph nodes
Some dogs get sudden arthritis that then causes pain and swelling. The infection can also have cardiac and neurological effects if left untreated. In the most severe cases, Lyme disease in dogs can cause kidney failure or even death. This isnât very common, though.
How Does A Tick Bite Affect My Body
You might not even know youve been bitten by a tick. Most dont cause pain or itching but some do. Some tick bites dont cause disease. Sometimes you can remove the tick before it can pass on any germs.
The tick bite itself may not cause symptoms except for some type of skin reaction, like a rash or a small hard lump. The infection that tick bites can give you may begin to cause symptoms.
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Dog Diseases Caused By Tick Bites
The two most common species of tick in Canada are the black-legged tick or Deer tick, which can transmit Lyme disease and the American dog tick which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted Fever. The brown dog tick which can carry the diseases babesiosis and ehrlichiosis and, the Lone Star tick, which also can transmit ehrlichiosis are rare as those tick species are not established in Canada and are usually brought into Canada on a migratory bird on a dog who has traveled to another country. If you take your dog abroad, they are still at risk for tick and tick-borne diseases, making tick protection important both at home and when on vacation with your pet.
Time For A Refresher On Ticks
Tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis are a serious health concern in New Hampshire. Although ticks are likely to be active any time the temperature is above freezing, you are more likely to contract a tick-borne illness in the summer months.
While there are several tick-borne illnesses to watch out for in our area, they are carried by the smaller Deer Ticks, not Dog Ticks. Says Marika Henegan, MD, a provider at Cheshires Urgent Primary Care Visits . A baby, or nymph, Deer Tick can be hard to notice, which is why checking yourself thoroughly for ticks is important after you have been in the woods or long grass.
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How To Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 12,259 times.
In areas where Lyme disease is common, like the northeastern U.S., more than half of all dogs may carry the bacteria that can cause the disease. However, less than 10% of these canine carriers will ever show symptoms and require treatment. Blood tests can confirm B. burgdorferi bacteria, but its typically the appearance of symptoms like fever, stiffness, joint swelling, and loss of appetite that triggers veterinary treatment. Fortunately, when treated early, canine Lyme disease typically responds quickly to antibiotics.
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.
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Where Are Ticks With Lyme Disease Commonly Found
We mentioned earlier that only certain types of ticks carry Lyme disease. If you live in certain regions, you may not have to worry much about Lyme disease. The ticks that most often spread Lyme disease are known as blacklegged ticks or deer ticks. The western blacklegged tick can also spread Lyme.
Here are the regions where ticks are most commonly found in the United States2:
- The Northeast
- The Upper Midwest
- The Pacific Coast
Blacklegged ticks are typically found in the northeast part of the United States as well as the northern part of the central United States and the mid-Atlantic region. Western blacklegged ticks are typically found on the Pacific Coast, which means there are ticks in several US regions that can spread Lyme disease.
Even if a tick cant spread Lyme disease, it may be carrying other diseases. Plus, tick bites can cause skin irritation in dogs, so treating your dog for fleas and ticks is an important part of keeping them healthy.
Lyme Prevention Beats Any Cure
Tick prevention is my main recommendation, Dr. Stone says, and is recommended for every dog in an endemic area, meaning the Northeast, the west coast, and the upper Midwest. It involves using an effective tick preventative and also checking for ticks regularly, especially if you walk your dog in the woods or other area thick with underbrush or tall grass. Ticks will use the leaves of underbrush or unmowed grass as spots from which to fall onto a host animal as she walks by.
When you get home from such areas, inspect your dog visually ticks are large enough to see crawling around with the naked eye . If you see one, crush it between two hard surfaces. That will protect you as well as your dog. Your pet cant give you Lyme disease its not a zoonotic ailment that passes from one species to another but the same tick that can make your dog sick can give you the disease.
Many veterinarians will also recommend the vaccine against Lyme disease as yet another preventive measure. It must be given once a year and may provide extra protection for your pet. However, Dr. Stone stresses, vaccination against Lyme disease in no way precludes the need for effective tick medicine. There are other diseases, some as or more serious than Lyme, that are passed by ticks.
Okay, go back and re-answer the questions at the beginning of this article. If you answer true for all five, youre a quick study.
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