What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite.
There are over 300,000 estimated new cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year.
The symptoms of Lyme disease depend on the how long the infection has been present in the body. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding round or oval red bullseye rash.
If left untreated, people may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems, and have an approximately 60 percent chance of developing Lyme arthritis.
How Lyme Disease Affects Dogs
Other ways that Lyme disease can affect dogs include creating stiffness, particularly in their gait. Some dogs will experience sensitivity to touch from the inflammation, which may be accompanied by labored breathing. The most serious of the ailments caused by Lyme disease is the onset of kidney problems.
Can Lyme Disease Cause Skin Problems In Dogs
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs? Lyme disease is often more challenging to identify in dogs than in humans, primarily due to the lack of a rash. While humans typically develop a characteristic bullseye rash around the location of the tick bite causing the infection, dogs dont develop this rash.
Don’t Miss: Neurologist Specializing In Lyme Disease
What Happens If Lyme Disease Goes Untreated
Treating Lyme disease in a timely manner is absolutely crucial to your dogs health, otherwise its complications can cause even more severe problems. Dr Muller further warns, Lyme disease can lead to serious damage of the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.
Dogs who are not treated for Lyme disease may find themselves with any of the following conditions:
- Inflammation of the kidneys, and in severe cases, kidney failure. Symptoms of this kidney failure include increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of extremities, and lack of appetite. This can be fatal.
- Chronic pain from arthritis
- Heart problems
- Seizure disorders or facial paralysis as a result of damage to the nervous system
Many of these issues, if left untreated, can be potentially fatal, so the answer is clear. If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, take care of it as soon as you possibly can.
Riskiest Areas To Contract Lyme Disease
Lyme disease dog is prevalent in the following areas:
- East coast from North Carolina to Maine
- New Hampshire
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes
Symptoms such as heart disease, renal issues, seizures andaggressive behavior are extremely rare. Research conducted at Cornell Veterinary College exposed 6- to 12-week-old Beagle puppies to the bacteria. They had no signs of illness until 2 to 5 months after exposure followed by a 4-day illness that went away without treatment.
Dogs are also different than humans in that dogs do not show symptoms such as flu-like signs or a rash soon after the tick bite. Canine Lyme arthritis is very responsive to a short course of inexpensive, safe, oral antibiotics .
Some breeds are predisposed to Lyme disease nephritis such as Labradors, Golden retrievers, and Shelties. Most others will not show any symptoms, or if they do they will be over a week at most.
Stages of Lyme Disease in Dogs
There are three stages or states of lyme disease in dogs:
Don’t Miss: How Would I Know If I Had Lyme Disease
How To Remove Ticks From Your Dog
When removinga tick from a dog be sure to grasp the tick by the head and pullfirmly straight from the dog. Dispose of the tick in a clear sealedcontainer and save the tick in case it needs to be tested for Lyme orother tick borne diseases. There are inexpensive tick removal toolssuch as a TickedOff that can be used to quickly and easily remove ticks.
The Best Way To Remove A Tick
Upon discovering a live tick on your pet, your first instinct might be to pull it off immediately. But rather than doing so with your bare hands, experts caution that patience is the safer route.
“The best way to take off every tick is with a sharpened tweezers and to kind of grab them as far down by the head as you can and pull them off,” explains Goldstein. “People ideally should wear gloves when they’re doing it, if they can, or just be careful. Theoretically, if you have a cut on your finger and you squish a tick and get the blood from the tick, you could get infected with something. So be careful not to do that.”
Don’t Miss: Can I Test Myself For Lyme Disease
How To Remove A Tick
The best option is to contact a doctor for those who are not fully confident. Keep in mind that the mouthpieces will easily break into the skin if not done correctly.
Step 1: Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. Be very careful not to crush or detach the head. Remember that about half of this head is probably buried under the surface of your skin, that of your child or your pets.
Step 2: Using even, consistent pressure, begin to pull upwards. Be sure not to twist or shake the tick, which could cause those mouthparts inside the child/pet to break off. If this happens and you cannot remove these mouthparts, contact a doctor or veterinarian.
Step 3: Once the tick is removed, clean the bite area thoroughly, as well as your hands, with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. You want to be sure and disinfect the exposed area of any harmful bacteria.
Step 4: Dispose of the tick by dipping it in alcohol, wrapping it tightly in tape, or enclosing it in a plastic bag. Be sure to never crush the tick with your bare hands and be careful of skin exposure.
Things You Might Not Know About Lyme Disease
The real cause of Lyme diseaseLyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterial spirochetes of the genus Borrelia–most commonly Borrelia burgdorferi in North America–which is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.Some ticks dont carry Lyme diseaseNot all ticks carry Borrelia burgdorferi. In North America, only Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus can transmit Lyme disease. Other species of ticks have been found to transmit Lyme disease in Europe and Asia. Species affected by Lyme diseaseLyme Disease, known medically as Lyme borreliosis, can affect people, dogs and occasionally cats. People and pets cannot get Lyme disease directly from an infected dog. However, a dog can bring an infected tick home where it could potentially spread Lyme disease to others in the household. Transmission time for Lyme diseaseWhen an infected tick bites, it takes twenty-four to forty-eight hours for the tick to transmit Borrelia burgorferi, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease. That means you can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease by removing ticks promptly. Check yourself and your pets for ticks–especially after visiting areas known to have ticks–and remove them immediately.
Also Check: Is Diarrhea A Symptom Of Lyme Disease
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.
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.
Don’t Miss: Lyme Disease Blood Test Cost
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.
Yikes You Found A Tick On Your Dog How Can You Remove It
The biggest key here is to be verycareful and veryquick, Dr. Wooten advises. This is because your dog is most likely to contract Lyme disease from a tick thats been feeding for 12 hours. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Protect your hands from potential bacteria and bites with a tissue or disposable gloves.
- Get a great set of tweezers dedicated exclusively to this purpose. Use these to remove any moving ticks you find immediately by pulling it straight up and off of your dog.
- If the tick isnt moving and is stuck on your dogs skin, get your tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight up and off of your pet. Be careful not to twist your tweezers, as this may rip off only part of the tick and leave its mouth on your pet and leave your dog at risk of infection.
- If necessary, ask someone to help restrain your dog while you remove the tick.
- Place the tick in rubbing alcohol or crush it. If you crush the tick, be sure not to get any of it on your skin.
Recommended Reading: What Can I Give My Dog For Lyme Disease
Larger Or Additional Rashes
As the Lyme disease infection spreads throughout the body, your rash might start to expand even more. You might also develop new, smaller rashes nearby. Like the early rash, these might be bullseye-shaped. But they can also just look splotchy or blob-like, according to the CDC. They might even take on a slightly bluish tint in the middle.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lymes Disease In Humans
Lyme disease will often have a misdiagnosis as flu. The early symptoms of the disease are extremely flu-like such as a headache, tiredness, muscle pain and fever.
As it progresses the headache may worsen and include neck stiffness, and the patient may have arthritis, loss of muscle tone, inflammation, numbness or tingling and heart palpitations.
I have been treated for Lyme disease myself after being unknowingly bitten while dog walking. I completely failed to notice despite being fully informed or so I thought! The bulls eye rash photographed below did not come up for a week. In the meantime another rash appeared and my legs and ankles become very swollen.
One of the easiest ways to spot Lyme disease in humans is a rash that is circular in appearance can grow up to twelve inches however in 30% of cases the rash will not be present. If you see this rash then go to the GP as a matter of urgency. Your GP will take it very seriously and there is a set protocol for the treatment.
You will probably be started on Doxcycline for three weeks. Take them!
Read Also: Jobs Near Old Lyme Ct
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.
What Are Some Potential Health Complications Of Untreated Canine Lyme Disease
Untreated Lyme disease in dogs can lead to health complications in your pets critical organs, including permanent damage to your pets kidneys, heart or nervous system. According to veterinary experts, kidney damage is the most common complication of untreated Lyme disease and is often fatal for dogs suffering from this complication.
In some cases, dogs may also experience nervous system disorders such as seizures or facial paralysis. The severity of these complications can vary and may not be life-threatening but could affect your pets quality of life.
Read Also: How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Lyme Disease
What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease In Dogs:
“Cases of Lyme disease in dogs are caused by infected ticks that attach to a dog to feed for atleast 24 hours to several days. Once the tick attaches and feeds on the dog host, a spirochete or infectious agent moves from the tick’s gut to the salivary gland, where it is then passed into the dog. Even if your dog has been exposed to Lyme disease, you and your family are not at risk of catching the disease from your dog.
At first, the bite will cause a skin infection. As the infection progresses it causes symptoms such as joint inflammation and in very rare cases liver and kidney disease . The bittendog limb is the first to show symptoms such as as lameness or limping. The “bull’s eye” rash seen in humans is not seen on dog skin.
Laboratory SNAP or ELISA tests are used to see if a dog has beenexposed, but does not prove that the dog has the disease. Dogs that test positive, but show nosymptoms, are not treated for the condition since most dogs remainasymptomatic. 95% of exposed dogs do not show any dog Lyme diseasesymptoms. In these cases tick control products that protect or repel tick attachment are prescribed.
If a dog shows symptoms, the prescription medicationDoxycycline is used for 1 month. Dogs with canine Lyme disease start toshow improvement in 1 to 2 days. Lyme Nephritis, a kidney disease, is generally fatal if left untreated.
Top 5 Myths About Lyme Disease In Pets
Myth:All ticks carry Lyme disease.Truth: Myth: Lyme disease causes a bullseye rash in pets, too.Truth:
- Lameness, with possible shifting from leg to leg
- Swollen, painful joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
Myth: Cats can get Lyme disease as easily as dogs.Truth: Myth: Lyme disease is not a serious concern.Truth:Myth: Ticks transmit disease as soon as they bite.Truth:
Recommended Reading: Lyme Disease Association Doctor Referral
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.
How To Protect Your Property And Your Pets
On this last topic, Bloom commented that the majority of flea and tick control medicines on the market work fairly well. He, however, cautioned against using more than one of them in tandem.
“In my opinion, it would be overly cautious to use more than one,” he says. “In other words, I wouldn’t use both a collar and a topical prevention, or an oral prevention and a topical. I think that’s kind of too much poison for the dog.”
You can, however, combine one of the topical or oral preventatives with the Lyme vaccine. So there is a way you can further protect your pet from contracting the disease if you live in an area where deer are prevalent.
If you’re looking for an additional way to protect your yard, Bloom recommends having the perimeter sprayed by a pest control company.
Goldstein also recommended treating the perimeter of your property, but his recommendation came in the form of a physical barrier, rather than one of pesticides.
“If you’re up against woods in your yard, a barrier of wood chips of pebbles will prevent at least the ticks from going across,” explains Goldstein. “They can be carried across it by an animal, but at least they won’t cross a barrier like that.”
Also Check: Is There A Test For Lyme Disease
Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.