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.
When To Contact Your Vet
If your pet is showing any of the signs of Lyme disease, book an appointment with your vet ASAP, especially if you have found a tick on them recently. You know your dog best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned, its always best to contact your vet.
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What Does The Lyme Multiplex Assay Measure
The Lyme Multiplex assay quantifies antibodies directed against specific proteins on the surface of B. burgdorferi at three different stages of the bacterial life cycle. This antibody profile can indicate whether an animal has been recently infected or is chronically infected with B. burgdorferi. It can also be used to monitor protective antibodies after vaccination.
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How To Treat Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is typically treated with antibiotics, along with anti-inflammatory medication if needed to ease the aches and pains in the joints. These antibiotics will last for several weeks, but you should begin to notice a difference in your dog within a few days. Typical treatment would be a round of doxycycline for a period of 30 days.
If your dog has had Lyme disease for an extended period of time undetected, antibiotics can still be administered. They will not work aseasily, though, so the period in which they have to take the medicine will be increased. For dogs who have suffered longer boughts of Lyme disease, it’s important to look into what other damage might’ve been done to their kidneys and other organs.
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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What Causes Lyme Disease
Most people believe that ticks cause Lyme disease, but this is only partly true. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which is picked up by deer ticks when they feed on infected animals. When a tick carrying the bacteria finishes its feeding which may be you or your dog bacteria from the ticks saliva gets left behind, entering its new host.
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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How To Prevent Lyme Disease
People with pets should:
- Use reliable tick-preventive products. Speak with your veterinarian about what tick preventive product is right for your pet.
- Work with your veterinarian to decide whether to vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease. Your veterinarians advice may depend on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle and overall health, and other factors.
- When possible, avoid areas where ticks might be found. These include tall grasses, marshes and wooded areas.
- Check for ticks on both yourself and your animals once indoors.
- Clear shrubbery next to homes.
- Keep lawns well maintained.
As noted above, there are preventive Lyme disease vaccines available for dogs, but they aren’t necessarily recommended for every dog. Consult your veterinarian to see if the vaccination makes sense for your pets. If your veterinarian does recommend that your dog be vaccinated against Lyme disease, the typical protocol will involve an initial vaccination followed by a booster 2-4 weeks later and annual boosters after that.
What Are The Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease
Some people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. If this occurs, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage.
However, signs of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people. The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. In fact, Lyme disease is practically unheard of in cats.
“Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells.”
Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells. Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.
Some pets are infected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. 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.
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How To Remove A Tick From Your Dog
If you find a tick on your dog, pull it off either using a tick remover tool or you can just use your hands and a tissue. You want to avoid any twisting or crushing, as this may force material out of the tick and into the bite wound.
Gently clean the area with soap and water and see your vet if it appears inflamed, swollen, infected, or concerning in any way. Avoid applying any ointments or oils to the area, as these can actually seal in any bacteria that tick may have been carrying.
Lyme Disease Prevention In Dogs
Keeping your pup on tick-prevention medication is one way of keeping them safe from contracting Lyme disease.
As well, whenever you dog has been walking through areas that may serve as a hiding spot for ticks, you should check you pet’s skin and remove any ticks as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting disease.
That said, removing ticks isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Contact your vet for instruction on how to properly remove ticks from your dog. .
Remember – Lyme disease is much more severe in humans than it is in dogs! If you walk in areas with long grass or shrubs be sure to check your skin regularly for ticks. Contact your doctor for advice on removing ticks if you find one latched onto your skin. Lyme disease in humans can cause a host of painful chronic symptoms.
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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Prevention Of Lyme Disease
The diagnosis of Lyme disease is often based on the signs and history. For example, a veterinarian might suspect Lyme disease in a dog with recent lameness, a mild fever, and a history that includes possible exposure to ticks. Standard blood studies are not very helpful in diagnosis because the results tend to fall within normal ranges despite signs of infection. However, these tests may be important in order to rule out other causes of disease. Antibodies against the disease-causing bacteria can often be detected 4 to 6 weeks after the initial infection and help confirm the diagnosis.
Other Canine Disease Carried By Ticks
Ticks carry some serious but less common bacterial diseases affecting dogs such as Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.
Babesiosis can come with a wide variety of symptoms from dark urine, high fever, a sudden and severe shock to a gradually progressing infection with more subtle clinical signs.
The symptoms of Anaplasmosis are also similar to those of Lyme disease. Blood test similar to those used to check for Lyme disease can be used in the diagnosis of these bacterial diseases.
Sometimes, people and dogs can fall sick with co-infection of multiple diseases carried by tick, where a tick bite transmits more than one type of disease-causing bacteria.
This condition can make diagnosis and treatment a more challenging and difficult task.
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Transmission Of Lyme Disease
Ticks that carry Lyme disease are often found in tall-grasses, thick bushes, marshes, and in the woods, especially in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Pacific coast. So if you and your dog happen to be around terrain similar to that, be on the lookout! Ticks are waiting to get your dog when he walks by, so its best to be careful in areas like this or better yet, stay away from them. The whole process is extremely fast. In fact, once a tick lands on the dog and bites him, it can transmit the disease in less than 48 hours.
Blacklegged ticks are the primary carriers of Lyme disease. Blacklegged ticks are most commonly found in wooded and deep bushy, grassy areas, especially near the woods. Its hard to avoid ticks because ticks are a year-long problem and not specific to any season, but the majority of cases occur from October to March, so its important to keep that in mind when going outdoors with your dog. Ticks are crawlers that latch on to your dog by hanging out at the tips of bushes and grass and then jump onto your dogs skin.
Ticks are not exclusive to woods, though. Even city dogs can come in contact with ticks that carry Lyme disease. Ticks cant be dehydrated, so you wont find them in low-cut lawns out in the open.
Once you see the tick, its tempting to immediately take it off the dog with your fingers. But this is not recommended. Instead, get a pair of sharpened tweezers and grab them from the head as far down as possible.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated In Dogs
Breathe easy: if caught in time, Lyme disease can be easily treated in dogs. The treatment includes antibiotics for a duration of usually for at least 30 days, as well as supportive medication if needed, Dr. Muller tells us. In order of use, those antibiotics are typically doxycycline, amoxicillin, followed by azithromycin. At times, dogs may need longer durations or more rounds of antibiotic treatments. Depending on how long they were ill, your pooch may also need therapy and treatments for individual organs or systems that have been affected by Lyme, especially the heart, nerves, joints, and kidneys.
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Should You Vaccinate Your Dog For Lyme Disease
There are several vaccines available for Lyme, each of which work slightly differently. There are different strains of B. burgdorferi spirochetes in different environments, and each produces different outer surface proteins . Lyme vaccines are made with different combinations of outer surface proteins, and work differently based on what proteins they include.
OspA is produced by spirochetes in a nutrient-poor environment, such as inside a tick that hasnt fed, and is consistent across B. burgdorferi strains. If your dog has received a vaccine based on OspA, the OspA antibodies that are circulating in her bloodstream will enter a tick when it bites and attack the spirochetes in the ticks midgut. That means the spirochete is targeted before it even enters your dog, and because of this, just about every Lyme vaccine includes it. The downside is that your dog must have a high level of circulating antibodies in order for the vaccine to be effective. Antibody production varies from dog to dog, and a series of titers would be necessary to know how your dogs immune system responds to the vaccine and how long immunity remains. Because the dogs immune system is never directly challenged by the spirochete, there is also no potential for immune memory.
Some vaccines combine both OspA and OspC for dual coverage. Vanguard has developed a vaccine that combines chunks of seven different OspC proteins along with OspA.
Lyme Vaccines on the Market Today
Testing For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease spread by ticks can be diagnosed with a simple blood tests in your veterinarian’s clinic. The C6 test is very sensitive and specific at diagnosing cases of Lyme disease and depending on clinical signs and concurrent results, treatment may be started immediately. If treatment has been successful, reductions in the QC6 at six months should be lower than the starting point.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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Treat The Environment For Ticks
Immature and mature ticks are most highly concentrated in wooded areas on low brush and leaf litter.2 Therefore, environmental control includes cutting back any brush and grass around the yard that could be used by questing ticks looking for a blood meal.2,4 Chickens and guinea hens may also help decrease tick populations, thereby decreasing potential exposure in the dogs environment.
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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