Diagnosing Lyme Disease In Dogs
You will need to provide a thorough history of your dogâs health to give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected.
Clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease is usually confirmed with a positive blood test for Lyme along with the clinical signs associated with Lyme disease.
Its important to note that tests can take 4-6 weeks to show up as positive after exposure, which is why veterinarians will use a combination of diagnostics to diagnose your dog:
Blood chemistry tests
X-rays and tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease
Fluid from the affected joints may also be drawn for analysis
How To Keep Ticks Off Your Dog
As they say, prevention is the best medicine. There is no need to worry about whether or not you should treat if your dog is never exposed to Lyme disease in the first place. Tick prevention is the cornerstone of Lyme prevention.
Tick preventives are available in a wide range of formulations, from topicals to collars to oral medications. Most topicals need to be applied monthly, and oral medications may need to be given once a month or every three months. Collars have varying efficacy lifespans, and you need to be sure that the collar is marketed for ticks and not just fleas. Ticks have shown resistance to certain medications in regional areas, so consult with your veterinarian about which products work well in your area. Ticks can be active even in cold weather, so year-round use of preventives is highly recommended.
Environmental management is also important. Ticks dry out in direct sunlight, so keeping your lawn mowed short and clear of leaf litter will help. Keep your dog out of wooded areas or fields of tall grass, especially in the spring and fall when ticks are most active. Fence your gardens to discourage deer and rabbits from bringing ticks onto your property, and control any rodent infestations in your house and outbuildings. Guinea hens, chickens, and to some extent ducks will all eat ticks, so keeping fowl and allowing them to graze your property is an all-natural way to remove ticks.
Kate Eldredge is a licensed veterinary technician from Plattsburgh, New York.
Zoonotic Risk Of Lyme Disease
Dogs cannot directly transmit Lyme disease to people however, they can carry unfed infected ticks into a household where they might feed on humans. In addition, people are often in the same Lyme diseaseendemic areas as the dogs and can independently become infected.1 Increased incidence of dogs with Lyme disease can be used as an indicator for human risk in the same area.6
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How Is Glomerulonephritis Diagnosed
To definitively diagnose glomerulonephritis, a biopsy of the kidney is needed. In most cases, urine tests are sufficient to presumptively diagnose the presence of glomerular disease. Significant proteinuria is typically found on a routine urinalysis. Often the urine will also contain hyaline casts, which are proteins that are in the shape of the renal tubules and indicate damage to those structures. A urine culture is helpful to eliminate bladder infection as a cause of the proteinuria. A test called a urine protein to creatinine ratio can be performed on the urine sample to determine the actual amount of protein loss.
“To definitively diagnose glomerulonephritis, a biopsy of the kidney is needed.”
Other tests that are necessary to complete the diagnostic work-up include:
- complete blood count to identify anemia, inflammation, infection or low platelet count
- serum chemistry tests to identify low blood protein concentration and high blood cholesterol concentration
- blood pressure measurement to identify systemic hypertension
- radiographs or ultrasound of the kidneys to search for obvious masses or abnormal kidney shape and size
- kidney biopsy to identify glomerulonephritis conclusively and differentiate it from amyloidosis, which is another kidney disease that affects the glomeruli.
“It can take several days to a few weeks to complete the necessary diagnostic work-up.”
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Dogs may not show symptoms for weeks or even months after an infected tick bites them and many dogs that are infected never show signs of illness, Dr. Muller says, noting that the symptoms of Lyme disease depend on the progression of the initial infection. Clinical signs can include:
- Excessive Salivating
- Kidney problems
If you live in an area where ticks are prevalent and your pup spends time outdoors, you should see your veterinarian right away if they experience any of these symptoms ! Its always better to err on the safe side.
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How Long Can A Dog Live With Lyme Disease
Most dogs with acute or subacute Lyme disease will live just as long as dogs without the disease. Once the initial symptoms are cleared up by antibiotics, the bacteria may still be present in the body but in such small concentrations that it wont cause any ill effects. Overall, there is no decrease in either life expectancy or quality of life for dogs with these forms of Lyme disease.
Chronic Lyme and Lyme nephritis are still poorly researched conditions, and its not known exactly how they impact life expectancy. These forms of the disease ultimately cause kidney failure, which is the primary cause of death for many dogs with Lyme. Once diagnosed with kidney failure, dogs can live for up to four years, though many succumb to the disease within months or even weeks.
Lyme nephritis, in particular, is a painful condition, and the kidney damage it causes requires costly ongoing treatment and testing. Many owners of dogs with Lyme nephritis opt to euthanize rather than prolong the dogs suffering.
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What Are The Clinical Signs Of Glomerulonephritis
Since the filtering ability of the glomeruli is impaired, there is usually an elevated amount of protein in the urine and a reduced amount of protein in the blood. Due to this loss of protein, mild to moderate clinical signs may include such non-specific symptoms as weight and muscle loss. More severe clinical signs are referred to as nephrotic syndrome and include fluid in the abdominal cavity , increased respiratory effort , and swelling of the limbs .
“The most common clinical sign of glomerulonephritis is blood in the urine.”
Chronic, severe glomerulonephritis can lead to the development of chronic kidney disease , with many dogs developing Stage III or IV CKD as a result. Some symptoms seen in dogs with CKD include lethargy, vomiting, increased drinking and increased urination .
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Dog And Lyme Disease: The Good The Bad And The Scary
Lyme disease, just the name alone is enough to give veterinarians a headache. It is a complicated combination of exposure, infection, clinical signs, prevention and treatment. All of this is wrapped up in multiple controversies: is my animal at risk? Should we vaccinate? Should we test on a regular basis? What should be done once an animal tests positive? This article is going to try and sort out these questions and give some advice. But always remember whether it is Lyme or any other disease process the best place to discuss information, testing and treatment options is going to be with your veterinarian.
What Are The Key Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Borrelia burgdorferi is a pathogen that avoids immune clearance and persists in the skin, joints, connective tissue, and central nervous system. As the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs depend on the body system involved, we will break down the symptoms based on the body systems that are affected. It should be noted that most dogs that are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi are asymptomatic, where 15% of infected dogs will show symptoms in 2-5 months after being bitten by a tick. A red, bulls-eye lesion is frequently noted after being bitten by a tick.
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How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs
Vaccinations Vaccinations can be given to dogs and puppies to help prevent Lyme disease. It is not required, because it is not a common disease. Vaccinations for Lyme disease are given to puppies at about 12 weeks of age, and then they will be given a booster shot again about 4 weeks later. An annual vaccination before tick season begins is also recommended if you are concerned about Lyme disease.
It is important to note that vaccinations are not 100% effective, and they do wear off after a certain amount of time. These vaccinations only work when your dog has not been exposed to the Borrelia bacteria.
It is important to note that once your dog has contracted Lyme disease, the Borrelia bacteria will be in his system forever. Although it remains quiet and usually does not resurface, re-infections could occur. The best way to treat a case of Lyme disease in dogs is to prevent it altogether. The following tips will help to prevent the spread of ticks and Lyme disease in dogs.
Have your dog vaccinated if your area is prone to ticks. This should be done when he is a puppy. Talk to your vet for more information when you are considering vaccinations.
If you walk in the woods, stick to trails or cleared areas. Avoid letting your dog play in the dense, grassy areas.
Keep your lawn tidy. Mow your lawn regularly, pluck weeds, and keep grass and woodpiles out of your yard. Clear your yard of any dead vegetation or shrubbery.
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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.
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How Is Lyme Disease Prevented
Its not comforting to understand that such a small insect can have so much control when it comes to Lyme disease. A vector is an organism that transports and delivers an infectious organism from one host to another. In this case, the vector of Lyme disease is the deer tick in the Northeastern United States. Female ticks lay about 2,000 eggs in the spring. The tick will transmit the disease to a new mammal host. However, this process requires a minimum of 48 hours, and if the tick can be removed within that time frame, the dog or human will not get Lyme disease. This gives us control in the fact that we can vaccinate our dogs against Lyme disease and take preventative measures such as checking them for ticks after being outdoors.
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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What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a type of bacterial infection that is spread by the deer tick . It is the most common tick-transmitted disease in North America. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi and it can be spread to dogs through the bites of infected ticks. Lyme disease is a serious infection and, if left untreated, it can cause serious health problems in dogs. Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary depending on which organs or systems are being affected. In some cases, the infection can be fatal. It is therefore important for dog owners to be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and to get their dogs treated if they suspect that their dog has been infected.
Does Treatment Immediately After A Tick Bite Negate Signs Of Early Infection
Not every tick carries B. burgdorferi. The infection rate of ticks also varies with geographic region. Therefore, treatment should not be performed based on a tick bite alone. If the tick was found on the animal it can be sent in for B. burgdorferi PCR. PCR for Anaplasma can be performed simultaneously if requested. If the tick was infected, early treatment can be considered. However, a tick must feed for at least 24 hours on an animal or human for B. burgdorferi transmission to occur. Only a serological test will confirm whether transmission of B. burgdorferi occurred and the animal was infected. Antibodies can be detected in infected animals as early as 3-4 weeks after infection. Lyme Multiplex testing is recommended after that time. Treatment can be initiated immediately afterwards if antibody levels are positive. Treatment during this early infection phase is generally very effective.
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Etiology And Transmission Of Lyme Borreliosis In Animals
Lyme borreliosis is caused by infection with spirochetal bacteria belonging to the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato species complex. Within this complex, the following spirochete species are well-established causes of Lyme borreliosis in people: B burgdorferi sensu stricto , B mayonii , B afzelii , B bavariensis , and B garinii . The predominant species responsible for Lyme borreliosis in animals is B burgdorferi sensu stricto . It is unclear whether other Borrelia species within the sensu lato complex can cause Lyme borreliosis in animals. Tick vectors of B burgdorferi sensu lato are hard-shelled Ixodes ticks Ixodes spp Ixodes spp, the largest genus of the family Ixodidae, contains approximately 245 species and is highly specialized both structurally and biologically. So far as is known, all Ixodes spp have… read more . In the USA, I scapularis is the predominant vector in the Northeast and Midwest, whereas I pacificus is the predominant vector on the Pacific coast. In Europe and Asia, I ricinus and I persulcatus are the primary vectors.
Does Lyme Disease Treatment With Antibiotics Affect Antibody Levels
Antibiotic treatment affects the pathogen . It does not directly influence antibody titers. However, if the treatment is successful and bacteria are removed from the host, the B-cells are not further triggered to produce new antibodies. As a consequence antibodies levels decrease after treatment. Thus, antibody levels are indicators of treatment success .
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The Test You Dont Want To Pass
Before talking about testing I want to take a moment to discuss how the body reacts to infection. When the body is attacked it forms antibodies in response to the part of the bacteria known as the antigen. This is also how vaccines work they stimulate the bodys immune system to produce antibodies to a specific disease. If the body becomes exposed to the disease again it will recognize, and fight it off, faster. All tests for Lyme disease test for the antibody and not the antigen. This becomes important soon.
The most common test performed by small animal veterinarians is either the Snap-3 or Snap-4 test by Idexx laboratories. These two tests also test for heartworm disease, Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases. Many vets use these combination tests as a screening tool. Both are C6 tests that are sensitive too, and specific for, antibodies that have been formed due to natural exposure to Bb. C6 is a peptide . This peptide remains constant and always detectable in a body infected by Bb. Dogs exposed to Bb will test C6 positive within 3-5 weeks and can stay positive for years. Vaccines, however, do not contain this particular peptide. In other words, these tests will not come up positive for Bb in vaccinated animals.
Does Lyme Tinnitus Go Away
Highly variable response rates of hearing loss and tinnitus to Lyme disease treatment have been reported. Sometimes these symptoms are resolved with treatment and sometimes they are not and other treatments may be necessary. Hyperacusis is a condition where patients can experience an extreme sensitivity to sound.
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Could Your Dog Have Untreated Lyme Disease
If you are nervous your dog has untreated Lyme disease, it should be comforting to know that MOST dogs infected with Lyme disease and cats do not get sick from Lyme disease! Your veterinarian can easily test for Lyme disease by a simple blood test that can be performed in the clinic.
Only 5% of dogs develop Lyme disease symptoms. Of the dogs that develop Lyme disease symptoms, the two main diseases they develop are: severe joint inflammation and pain and more rarely: severe kidney failure .
Topic 4a: Treatment Of Lyme Arthritis In Dogs
The classical presentation of LB is an acute monoarticular or polyarticular lameness with joint swelling, fever, lethargy, and mild local lymphadenopathy, usually in young, often large breed dogs with an active/outdoor lifestyle, but depending upon geographical location, is seen in other types of dogs. Treatment is based on treating infection and managing pain. Experimentally, the illness is selflimiting, and in the field typically a rapid response to antibiotics occurs within 12 days.
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