Antibody Titers For Lyme Disease
Antibody titers can provide helpful diagnostic information, although antibodies cannot be detected for 4 to 6 weeks after the bacteria have entered the dog.3,6
Diagnostic tests for antibodies to B burgdorferi are available as immunofluorescence assay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay , Western blot, and polymerase chain reaction. ELISAs are available for in-house screening.2 Western blot testing is the gold standard and can be used if the ELISA result and the clinical presentation are discordant .1
Because most infections in dogs are subclinical, infection must be differentiated from previous exposure.1,3 In the absence of clinical signs, a positive antibody test result does not indicate disease 1 rather, a positive test result indicates only previous exposure to Borrelia bacteria.
How Do I Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs
After your dog walks through areas with long grass or thick underbrush where ticks might be hiding, it is a good idea to check them for ticks. Removing ticks can be a tricky process, if you spot a tick on your dog, contact your vet for detailed instructions.
Lyme disease is much more serious in humans than dogs, so it is doubly important that you check yourself for ticks too.
You dog cannot give you Lyme disease, they are not a risk to you or your family. However, if they bring an infected tick into your home, it might be able to transmit the disease to you.
Finally, make sure you follow good tick prevention practices all year long. Avoid areas with tall grass or brushing through undergrowth. Ask your vet about vaccinating your dog against Lyme and check your dog for ticks every time you take them outside.
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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.
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How Much On Average Does It Cost To Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs
The cost of Lyme disease treatment in dogs can vary by a number of factors, including where you live. From there, Dr. Muller says, The costs often depend on the treatment duration. A four-week antibiotic course might cost around $800, plus the cost of the diagnostic blood tests may approximately be an additional $80 to $200 depending on the type of tests, in addition to the vet consultation fees. Add in the cost of your dogs prescription medications, and that can be costly for many pet parents. Having pet insurance can help cover these crucial veterinary expenses in a big way. That said, while Pumpkin Pet Insurance covers tick infections and tick-borne diseases like Lyme, not all pet insurance providers will. In addition to discussing your treatment options with your veterinarian, make sure to check with your insurance provider to see what conditions are covered.
What Is Canine Lyme Disease
The risk for you and your pet specifically dogs of contracting Lyme disease is increasingly on the rise across areas of Ontario.
Incidence of Canine Lyme Disease easily keeps pace with the increased incidence of the disease in humans, and probably more. Although likely true that the incidence of Lyme disease is higher in dogs than humans, there is no national or provincial system for capturing the incidence of Canine Lyme Disease.
Lacking a national or provincial system for tracking, reviewing the human data for Lyme disease is important as an indication of the exposure and potential infection in dogs.
A Ticks Life
Ticks dont fly, jump or blow around with the wind. They are sluggish and lumbering and can be as small as a poppy seed. Bites are usually painless, so you or your pet may not know that theres been a bite.
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What To Expect At Home
Home care for dogs with Lyme disease is relatively straightforward. Doxycycline is usually given by mouth twice daily for at least 30 days. Improvement in the dogs symptoms should be noted within 24-48 hours. If the dogs condition fails to improve in 72 hours or worsens at any time, call your veterinarian.
Vaccinate Dogs At High Risk
For dogs at high risk, in addition to acaricides and environmental controls, vaccination can be considered. The vaccines work best when administered before dogs are exposed to B burgdorferiinfected ticks.2,4,6 Consult the individual vaccine manufacturers directions with regard to immunity duration.
Although Lyme vaccines are not considered core vaccines, the ACVIM Consensus group states that they can be helpful in Lyme diseaseendemic areas, especially for clients whose tick prevention compliance may be less than ideal. In the absence of studies, whether Lyme vaccination needs to be boosted every 6 or 12 months remains uncertain.4
The ACVIM Consensus group was split on the recommendation for routine use of these vaccines but did agree that the circulating immune complexes that increase transiently after vaccination have no known negative effect on the vaccinated dog.4 Group members felt that the most effective way to prevent infection with B burgdorferi is year-round tick control and that vaccination provides another layer of protection in Lyme diseaseendemic areas.4
Although preventing Lyme disease can seem overwhelming at first, if taken a step at a time, we can offer clients a good chance of protecting their dogs from infection with B burgdorferi and subsequent development of Lyme disease .
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Discussing Symptoms And Treatments With Your Vet
Lyme Disease In Dogs: Signs And Prevention
Kathryn E. Reif
Dr. Reif is an assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University. Her research interests revolve around ticks and tick-borne diseases of veterinary, agricultural, and medical concerns. Research in Dr. Reifs laboratory includes studies of antimicrobial strategies to control tick-borne pathogens, tick-borne pathogen vaccine development, tick control, and studies of tick-borne pathogen transmission.
In the United States, Lyme disease is the most commonly diagnosed tick-borne disease of dogs and humans the primary causative agent, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, is transmitted via the bite of an infected blacklegged tick . The predominant vectors of B. burgerdorferi in the eastern half of the United States are Ixodes scapularis ticks, and on the Pacific coast of the United States they are Ixodes pacificus ticks. The pathogen is maintained in endemic areas through an enzootic cycle between wildlife reservoirs and Ixodes ticks. In highly endemic regions, more than 70% of local adult blacklegged ticks carry B. burgdorferi, posing a significant risk to both canine and public health. This article discusses the basic epidemiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease in dogs in the United States.
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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.
Treatment For Lyme Disease
Treatment with antibiotics is indicated for dogs with a positive ELISA result and clinical signs of Lyme disease. The drug of choice is doxycycline. Although no optimal dose or duration of treatment has been determined,1 the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends a doxycycline dose of 10 mg/kg PO q24h for 30 days,3 and the recommended course of treatment is usually 4 weeks.1,4 If doxycycline is unavailable or is contraindicated for a given patient, amoxicillin or azithromycin can be prescribed.1,4 For dogs exhibiting substantial joint pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids can be used. Glucocorticoids are not recommended.1,2 Doxycycline is recommended for dogs with Lyme diseaseassociated nephritis, but these dogs must also receive symptomatic treatment, based on the degree of renal changes.
Because of the low incidence of clinical Lyme disease, prophylactic treatment when a tick has been found attached to a dog is not recommended.2,3 Antibody titers are not a helpful guide to treatment because they can remain elevated for years.1
More specific information about treatment for Lyme disease can be found in the ACVIM Consensus 2018 update.4
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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.
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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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Lyme Disease: Tips For Treating Positive Dogs
Most dogs and cats seropositive for Borrelia burdorferi seroconvert but show no clinical signs. Cats exposed experimentally show no clinical signs even after second exposure and overall it is unknown if cats develop CS of Lyme Borreliosis .
The two most common forms of LB include Lyme arthritis and Lyme nephritis. Signs of Lyme arthritis, seen in a small subset of infected dogs, are transient or respond quickly to oral antibiotics. Lyme nephritis, thankfully, is much less common than Lyme arthritis. Neurological and cardiac manifestations of LB in dogs are not well documented.
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Itâs also important to note that dogs who spend a significant amount of time outside arenât the only ones at risk for tick bites and Lyme disease. Ticks are everywhere, and although not all tick species carry Lyme disease, itâs wise to avoid them altogether.
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How Likely Is It That Your Dog Will Get Lyme Disease
The Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria found in ticks causes flu-like symptoms. Dr Raus research shows that about a third of ticks carry this bacteria species meaning that if a tick bites your dog, its only 33% likely to carry the B burgdorferi bacteria.
If the bite is from an infected tick, then your dog may develop flu-like symptoms. He may also develop a rash at the site of infection.
This is the first stage of Lyme disease.
Dr Rau and other researchers estimate that only 10% to 20% of tick bites will lead to Stage 1 Lyme Disease. But if left untreated, 30% of Stage 1 cases will lead to Stage 2. This is where bacteria can infect the skin, joints, kidneys and sometimes the heart.
So that means your dog has about a 1% to 2% chance of Stage 2 Lyme Disease the kind of Lyme disease that can make him very sick.
Stage 3 Lyme is the chronic stage. This stage can begin months or even years after infection.
The most common symptoms are joint and muscle pain. Only 1% of stage 2 cases of Lyme progress to Stage 3. This mirrors research done in dogs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dog Lyme Disease
As a pet parent, its your job to keep your dog tick-free and healthy. However, you cant always spot ticks on your dog, so its also important to know how to spot the symptoms of Lyme disease. Here are some of the symptoms you may notice with dog Lyme disease2:
- Fever: Dogs with Lyme disease often present a mild fever, although its important to note that there are several other medical conditions that can cause a low-grade fever.
- Loss of appetite: If youve noticed your dog has suddenly stopped eating, thats a sign that they may have Lyme or another similar medical condition.
- Painful, irritated, or swollen joints: You may not notice this symptom until the later stages of chronic Lyme disease.
- Swollen lymph nodes: You may also notice swollen lymph nodes in your dogs neck, chest, and groin area.
- A lack of energy: Dogs who have Lyme disease typically lack energy, so you should take your dog to the vet if theyve been especially lazy.
- Intermittent lameness: Lameness, or the inability to use one or more limbs, is another symptom that dogs with Lyme may experience.
While these symptoms are common in dogs with Lyme disease, its important to remember that symptoms vary from animal to animal. Some dogs may not show any signs of Lyme disease. If you suspect your dog has Lyme disease, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis. Your vet can help you determine if your dog has Lyme disease, dog dermatitis, or some other medical condition.
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Is There A Lyme Disease Vaccine For Dogs Can All Dogs Take The Vaccine
There are 4 Lyme vaccines available in the United States for dogs. Lyme vaccination is considered a lifestyle vaccine, i.e. not all dogs need it, and the decision to vaccinate is an individual one and is not for all dogs.
The Lyme vaccine works by sterilizing the bacteria in the gut of the tick, preventing transmission of bacteria to the dog if they are ever exposed. Lyme vaccines appear to prevent illness in 60%86% dogs that are vaccinated, but not consistently in all dogs, and not for a very long duration of immunity.To ensure the vaccine provides optimum protection Dr. Wooten notes, your dog will receive two initial injections of the vaccine, two-four weeks apart, and then either annual or biannual boosters to maintain immunity.
While most dogs are tolerant of the Lyme disease vaccine, all dogs are different and may need another form of prevention. According to an article in Todays Veterinary Practice, Golden Retrievers should not receive the Lyme vaccine because of a genetic predisposition to develop Lyme nephritis, an inflammatory kidney disease. Fortunately, if proper tick prevention is utilized, vaccination should not be necessary. However, your veterinarian will help you determine the best form of Lyme disease prevention based on your dogs age, breed, size, any potential pre-existing conditions, and their overall health.