Lyme Disease Treatment For Dogs
Like any bacterial infection, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The ACVIM 2018 Consensus Update on Lyme recommends treating symptomatic Lyme-positive dogs with doxycycline for at least one month.
If lameness is one of your dog’s symptoms, you might be surprised that your veterinarian doesn’t prescribe a pain medication. This is because the lameness is caused by the presence of the bacteria in the joints, not an orthopedic injury. If your dog’s lameness is caused by Lyme disease, he will improve dramatically within 48 hours of starting treatment.
Always give the complete course of antibiotics, even if your dog seems to be feeling better. Because Borrelia burgdorferi likes to hang out in the joints, it can be difficult to get rid of, and stopping treatment too soon could leave enough bacteria alive to cause problems for your dog down the road. Dogs can be reinfected with Lyme disease multiple times.
Lyme Disease In Dogs: Diagnosis To Treatment
Ticks are most active when warm weather hits, but in many parts of the country they can be a year-round nuisance. These tiny parasites are known for carrying diseases, including ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and other afflictions that can cause fevers and other symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening. One of the most well-known and common of these is Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a risk for any dog who lives in areas where there are ticks in the environment, but exposure can be particularly concerning for pups that spend time doing outdoor activities like hiking, camping or playing with toys in the yard. Keep in mind, however, that even dogs who spend most of their time indoors can contract this disease. Every pet parent should know the signs of Lyme disease in dogs and how to prevent and treat it.
How To Remove A Tick
The natural reaction upon finding a tick on a human or animal is to pull it off as quickly as possible, but its important to know how to remove it properly. The front end of a tick where the mouthparts are attached to your body is basically a little straw that can allow germs inside the tick to travel into your body. If you squeeze the back end in an attempt to extract the tick, you could end up pushing the germs through that straw.
The germs are in the back part of the tick, Mather said. They come from the stomach of the tick into the salivary glands and then out through the mouthpart.
Thats why Mather said its essential to come in horizontally with a very pointy pair of tweezers and grasp the tick just behind the head or mouthparts before pulling it out. That way, you wont squeeze the back of the tick, increasing your chances of removing the body of the tick and all the germs still inside it.
If you pull the tick off and the mouth stays embedded, its not the end of the world. You can disinfect the area to avoid any minor skin infections and wait.
The mouthpart will work itself out, a little like a splinter, in a reasonably short period of time, Mather said.
The quicker you remove the tick the better, since it takes time usually hours for germs to travel from the tick into your body.
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How Long Do Symptoms Take To Present Themselves
Like many medical conditions affecting dogs, Lyme disease isnt always apparent early on. In fact, it can take 2-5 months for your dog to begin showing symptoms of Lyme disease, and it may take even longer for some animals.
Another thing to keep in mind is that 5-10% of dogs who have Lyme disease dont actually show any signs of it.3 While you might notice behavioral changes and other symptoms that indicate your dog has Lyme disease, theres a good chance that you wont notice any symptoms at all. This is one of the reasons its so important to take your dog to the vet for a checkup every once in a while.
Preventing Lyme Disease In Dogs
Whenever your dog has been walking through areas where ticks may hide, its a good idea to check your pet for ticks once you arrive home. Removing ticks isnt as simple as you might think. If you spot a tick on your pooch, contact your veterinarian for instructions on how to safely remove the tick from your dogs skin.
We also recommend checking your own body for ticks. Lyme disease is much more severe in humans than in dogs. If you discover a tick has latched onto your skin, contact your doctor for advice on removing the tick.
Its important to note that your dog does not pose a risk to you or your family however you are at risk if you spend time in the same outdoor environment as your dog and are around infected ticks.
Also, keep up on tick prevention and parasite prevention year-round, and speak with your vet about vaccinating your dog against Lyme. Avoid brushing against shrubs or walking through long grass while on walks, and check your dog every day for ticks.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
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What Are The Three Stages Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
While there is only one type of Lyme disease in dogs, the illness usually progresses through three stagesearly localized Lyme, early disseminated Lyme and late disseminated Lyme. Early localized Lyme is very difficult to detect in dogs, as it typically manifests as fatigue, fever and joint and muscle pain. An infected dog may not actively show any of those signs.
Similar symptoms characterize the next stage but on a more aggressive level. This stage is when your dog may start limping or losing their appetite. Late disseminated Lyme disease in dogs can affect the organs, brain and spinal cord.
Dog parents may also mistake other illnesses as Lyme disease. Tick-borne ailments with similar symptoms to Lyme include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis or anaplasmosis. All these illnesses can cause fever, loss of appetite and lethargy identical to Lyme disease.
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:
- Poor appetite
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Lyme Disease Symptoms And Causes
The Most Common Lyme Disease Symptoms:
Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that is transmitted by the tick or insect can spread throughout the body and cause a series of autoimmune-like reactions. Research done by the Department of Rheumatology at University of Würzburg in Germany shows that symptoms of Lyme disease are far-reaching and commonly affect the skin, heart, joints and nervous system.
Symptoms and signs of Lyme disease include:
- A temporary butterfly skin rash that appears where the tick bite occurred . Many, but not all, develop a rash shaped like a bulls eye that appears as a red ring around a clear area with a red center. The CDC reports that around 70 percent of Lyme disease patients develop this rash
- Flu-like symptoms, especially shortly after being infected. These include a fever, trouble sleeping, neck pain, fatigue, chills, sweats and muscle aches
- Poor sleep, chronic fatigue and lethargy
- Digestive issues, including nausea and loss of appetite
- Achiness and joint pains. The CDC has found that around 30 percent of Lyme patients develop symptoms of arthritis
- Long-term many people experience mood changes, included increased depression and fatigue
- Cognitive changes are also a long-term symptom and include forgetfulness, headaches, brain fog, misplacing things and trouble concentrating
The REAL Cause of Lyme Disease:
Eradication Of Lyme Disease
I hope that it will continue moving forward in development and will become the first therapeutic to treat Lyme disease, Lewis says. It will be very important to see whether treating with hygromycin A will diminish the probability of developing chronic Lyme.
But the plans go even further: Lewis team has also shown that feeding hygromycin-laced bait to mice can eliminate Borrelia burgdorferi infections. Theoretically at least, putting out such bait could eradicate Lyme disease from entire areas or even entire countries.
This idea is not entirely new: A field trial with doxycycline baits was successful. But widespread use of this drug for that purpose is undesirable because it could lead to many microbes developing antibiotic resistance. In the case of hygromycin, however, Lewis studies indicate that it is extremely difficult for Borrelia burgdorferi to develop a resistance.
The first field trial against Borrelia burgdorferi is scheduled to start next summer. And Lewis team is also investigating whether hygromycin A can treat other diseases caused by spirochetes, such as syphilis, which is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.
This article was translated from German.
Ticks a plague for humans and animals alike
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Should I Have My Dog Tested
Antibodies can take weeks to develop. Because of this, tests for Lyme disease that are performed before the antibodies have evolved may show up as negative even if your dog is infected. If your dog is infected and is retested four to six weeks later, they should have a positive test. If you do decide to have your dog tested, you should also keep in mind that just because they test positive for antibodies does not automatically mean they have the disease. This simply means that at some point in their life they were exposed and their body mounted a response. In many cases, this makes it difficult to determine the importance of positive test results because unfortunately, there aren’t reliable tests that can identify the presence of the infecting bacteria in your dogs body.Whether or not they should be cause for concern depends on many factors, including whether or not your vet feels your dog is showing symptoms that may be consistent with lyme disease. Ultimately, you should rely on your veterinarian to decide whether or not testing for lyme disease is appropriate and should your dog test positive, what should be done with that information.
If you’re concerned about how long the testing process takes and how it may affect you or your family, keep in mind that humans cannot contract Lyme disease from an infected dog. The Ixodes tick is the primary means of transmission in people, as well as dogs.
Control And Prevention Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
The best way to protect dogs from Lyme disease is to use tick-preventive products year-round. Several safe and effective commercial parasiticides are available for tick control on dogs and cats, including systemics , topicals , and collars. Regardless of choice, clients should be encouraged to comply with manufacturer recommendations. For further protection of dogs living in or visiting Lyme-endemic areas, another effective strategy is vaccination. Several commercial Lyme vaccines for dogs are available. These vaccines consist of either bacterins or specific recombinant or chimeric outer surface proteins , with or without adjuvant. Vaccine-induced antibodies against OspA are thought to work by entering the tick during early stages of feeding and killing the borreliae inside the tick before they are transmitted to the dog. Vaccine-induced antibodies against OspC are thought to help kill or control borreliae during early infection in the dog around the tick bite site. However, because Ixodes ticks can carry other pathogens for which vaccines are not available, use of a vaccine in lieu of a tick-preventive product is not recommended. Risk-based decisions based on location, dog breed, travel, and veterinary consultation will help determine whether a dog would benefit from Lyme disease vaccination.
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Treatment For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Veterinarians treat dogs with Lyme disease through a combination of medical therapy and supportive care. A 4-to 6-week course of antibiotics will be prescribed for dogs with clinical signs of Lyme disease, as well as for dogs that have a high antibody level, even if they are asymptomatic. Many owners see improvement within a few days. However, a second round of antibiotics is often required, as the infection may persist through the first round of treatment.
Severe cases of Lyme disease will acquire additional therapy to treat affected kidneys, heart, or nerves, along with supportive care like intravenous fluids. Re-checking blood work is recommended six months after completing antibiotic therapy to determine if treatment has been successful.
There is some debate within the veterinary community as to whether dogs should be treated if they test positive for Lyme disease but are asymptomatic and have a low antibody level. Your veterinarian will speak to you about different options so that you can come up with the best treatment plan for your dog.
Lyme disease can stay in your dogs body even with antibiotics. In these cases, the disease often flares up when a dogs immune system is suppressed or weakened, such as during periods of stress. The same antibiotic can be used to treat repeated recurrences of Lyme disease. Unlike other types of infections, the lingering infection is not a direct result of antibiotic resistance.
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|
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Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease
There is a myriad of clinical signs which may or may not be present in dogs. Some dogs may exhibit no clinical signs whatsoever. Unfortunately, this does not mean the body isnt being affected negatively by the bacteria. Be sure to contact your vet if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Painful and/or swollen joints
- Intermittent and/or limb-shifting lameness – Example: lame on the right front leg one day, lame on the left rear leg the next day, not lame at all the following day
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Untreated, Lyme disease can cause significant damage to the kidneys , heart , and nervous system .
Conventional Lyme Disease Treatment
Healthcare providers often have difficulty diagnosing Lyme disease because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other infectious or autoimmune illnesses, such as the flu, arthritis or lupus. Several tests are now available for diagnosing Lyme disease. The most popular way of making a diagnoses is using a combination of the Western blot and ELISA tests, which measure specific antibodies in the blood. Some experts, however, feel that this testing has flaws and is not always conclusive.
Another test that may be effective in diagnosing Lyme disease is direct microscopy, which is done by fewer laboratories, including Fry Labs in Arizona. In my opinion, this is the preferred method. Its often performed by holistic health practitioners in combination with other physical exams.
Lyme Disease Prevention Tips:
Prevention and early treatment is very important for managing Lyme disease. Steps you can take to to prevent getting Lyme disease include:
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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
Will Lyme Disease Go Away If Left Untreated
Left untreated, signs and symptoms of the primary illness usually will go away on their own within a few weeks, although the rash may recur. Days to months later, additional symptoms of Lyme disease may occur. The organs affected later in the course of the disease may lead to the following conditions and complications:
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Video Answer: And Tick Removal
By this time, the disease may be widespread throughout the body. Non-specific signs which may indicate that Lyme disease is affecting the kidneys include vomiting, lethargy, anorexia , and weight loss. The kidney form of the disease is less common, but often fatal.
Once ill, dogs can become feverish and lame in one or more joints. They also may exhibit sluggishness, and their lymph nodes may swell. A more serious form of the disease that affects the kidneys often is fatal.
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.
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