What Is Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease is also referred to as Lyme borreliosis, a bacterial illness that certain species of infected ticks can transmit to humans, dogs and other animals.
Since ticks dont fly or jump, they make contact with their host by lurking on the tips of long grass or bush, then quickly grabbing onto your dog when he walks by. He then crawls on to his body to look for a place to bite.
An infected tick carries the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, then bites a dog or person, transmitting the virus through the bloodstream.
Once its entered the bloodstream, the bacteria can reach different parts of the body and result in problems with specific areas or organs, including joints, as well as general illness. The disease can be transmitted after a tick has been attached to a dog for 24 to 48 hours.
Can You Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs
The best way to prevent Lyme disease in your dog is by protecting them against infected ticks.
Adequate flea and tick prevention is essential in preventing tick-borne illness, as an approved tick repellent will prevent the tick from attaching long enough to spread disease.
You can speak with your vet about which tick prevention is best for your furry friend at your next wellness exam.
Not only is flea and tick prevention essential in preventing tick-borne illness, but so is avoidance of areas that are known to harbor a large amount of ticks.
Some of the most high risk areas include any regions with tall foliage, as this is the easiest way for a tick to come in contact with your dogs fur.
Not only should you avoid these areas when possible, but you should always search your dogs fur for any ticks after your outdoor adventures.
If you live in an area with a high rate of Lyme disease infections, you can speak with your veterinarian about the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs.
The vaccine is not 100% effective, meaning its important to have your dog on tick prevention in addition to administering the vaccine.
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.
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Lyme Borreliosis In Animals
, BSc , DVM, MSc, University of Guelph
Lyme borreliosis is a bacterial, tick-transmitted disease of animals and people. Many additional mammalian and avian species become infected but do not develop overt clinical signs. This disease is endemic to temperate areas in the northern hemisphere and is seen sporadically in Europe and Asia. Within the USA, endemic areas include the Northeast , the upper Midwest, and the Pacific coast. Globally, the incidence of Lyme borreliosis is increasing due to the expanding geographic range of tick vectors.
Diagnosis can be challenging, because most animals do not develop clinical illness after infection. Clinical signs of Lyme borreliosis have been well documented in dogs, in which the characteristic presentation includes an intermittent, shifting lameness. Horses with Lyme borreliosis may exhibit neurologic signs, uveitis, or cutaneous lymphoma. Although other clinical signs such as lameness have been reported in horses, they have yet to be conclusively linked to infection. Along with prevention, early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics appear to be important to treatment success.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Because the Lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it can be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic of choice is doxycycline, followed by amoxicillin, then azithromycin. Treatment lasts for 4 weeks. Occasionally, the initial infection will recur, or the pet will become re-infected by being bitten by another infected tick.
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How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Tick control and prevention methods significantly reduce the likelihood of infection. Maintaining antibodies against B. burgdorferi through vaccination can further protect your animal. Antibody amounts and duration of vaccine antibodies can vary in individuals. Verifying your animals antibody response to vaccination helps to assure durable protection.
Treatment Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Four weeks of Doxycycline is the most common course used to treat Lyme and other tick-borne diseases . If dogs have been showing clinical signs, they often perk up and improve in a matter of days, but its important to give the full course of treatment. If dogs arent treated, or treatment has been delayed due to unknown diagnosis or other complications, they may continue to have issues for life
If specific organs are affected, more involved testing may be performed, and other treatments prescribed by your vet.
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Reducing Future Lyme Disease Risks
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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How To Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 11,813 times.
In areas where Lyme disease is common, like the northeastern U.S., more than half of all dogs may carry the bacteria that can cause the disease. However, less than 10% of these canine carriers will ever show symptoms and require treatment. Blood tests can confirm B. burgdorferi bacteria, but its typically the appearance of symptoms like fever, stiffness, joint swelling, and loss of appetite that triggers veterinary treatment. Fortunately, when treated early, canine Lyme disease typically responds quickly to antibiotics.
Topic : Should Treatments Be Offered For Nonclinical Nonproteinuric Seropositive Dogs
This topic is still controversial 4/6 panelists do not routinely recommend treatment for such dogs ,, stating that: this practice potentially promotes overuse of antibiotics no data exists proving treatment of healthy dogs is associated with decreased risk of illness Bb may not be cleared from all tissues with treatment and, reinfection may commonly occur in dogs in endemic areas. Seropositivity indicates tick and wildlife exposure and possible coinfection. Tick control and possible vaccination should be readdressed . Panelists in North America recommend reevaluation for proteinuria at least 23 times per year, even if the dog is treated with antibiotics, because clearance may not occur, and because the pathogenesis of Lyme nephritis is unknown.
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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.
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.
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Preventing Lyme Disease And Other Tick
Inspect your dog. After walks through the woods or grassy settings, be sure to check your dog thoroughly. Take a careful look between toes, under the tail, and around their mouth, eyes, and ears .
Remove ticks immediately. Learn best practices for tick removal. The faster you find and remove a tick, the less likely it is that your dog will contract a secondary illness like Lyme disease from tick bites. To avoid tearing the tick and spreading possible infections into the bite area, use fine-point tweezers. Pull straight upward, in a slow and steady motion to prevent the ticks mouth from breaking off and remaining embedded in your pets skin. If you are unable to remove the tick yourself, consult with your veterinarian.
Use flea and tick preventives. Most flea and ticks medications dont prevent ticks from jumping onto or biting your dog, and they kill them once they bite. Since Lyme disease requires 24-48 hours, it prevents the spread of disease. Consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate product for your dog.
Keep grass as short as possible and stay on paths. Refrain from walking into grassy patches, if possible. If hiking in the woods, try to keep on hike paths away from high-growth vegetation.
Get your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease however, the vaccine may not be appropriate for some dogs. Discuss the vaccine with your veterinarian to see what is possible for your pet.
I Found A Tick On My Dog What Do I Do
If the tick is still attached, and your veterinarian is open and able to squeeze you in, prioritize this appointment. If you cannot get in to your vet right away, removing the tick yourself is your next best option. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove it as close to the dog’s skin as possible. It’s most important to remove the tick at the head, as this is where they can transmit the disease from. It takes at least 24 hours for an infected tick to transmit the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, which makes removing the tick promptly so important.
If possible, take a clearly focused picture of the tick before removal to show your vet and then save the tick in a zip-lock bag. If the species of tick can be identified, then your vet will know what diseases the tick can potentially transmit.
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Lyme Disease And Homeopathy For Your Pets
This is an interesting article written by Stephen Tobin, DVM.
I have seen the effects of homeopathy on lyme disease first hand and it’s astounding. Although Dr. Tobin quotes Ledum 1M a lot in this article, there are a number of remedies that could be useful. If you suspect Lyme disease in your pet, be sure to see a registered homeopath that is qualified to assess and treat your pet with an appropriate treatment protocol.
I hope you enjoy the article below taken from
Lyme Disease and Homeopathy
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Lyme Disease
Here’s the thing, even if a dog has been infected, the dog may not show any symptoms at all.
If a dog does show symptoms, usually the symptoms show up two to five months after the tick bite.
Unlike in people where the classic symptom is a red, “bull’s eye” rash, dogs don’t develop such a rash.
Instead, one classic canine Lyme disease symptom is the sudden onset of lameness, and quite often, that’s the only symptom. You will notice that one or more of your dog’s joints has become swollen and painful to the touch. The dog will limp, and may walk hunched over. The lameness may last for only a few days, although in some cases it may last longer or recur for months.
Other symptoms that an infected dog may develop include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Lethargy and weakness
- Loss of appetite
In more serious cases, an infected dog may develop severe kidney disease leading to kidney failure. In rare cases, the heart or the nervous system may also be affected. Understandably, these problems are more difficult to treat and can be fatal.
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Dont Test Healthy Dogs
In fact, ACVIM argues against routine screening of healthy dogs for these reasons:
- Routine testing results in over-diagnosis and over-treatment. And thats based on a test that doesnt diagnose Lyme disease or predict its occurrence.
- Most positive dogs never become ill with Lyme disease and dont need treatment.
- Over-treatment with incomplete removal of Bb can result in resistant strains.
- Overuse of antibiotics generally increases other microbial resistance in the environment. And thats a bad thing for everyone.
- Not all dogs have a clean bill of health even after one month of treatment.
- Immunity isnt permanent treated dogs can get reinfected.
- Drugs used to treat Lyme disease have potential side effects.
- Detection of positive results could cause unnecessary owner distress and expense. And there could be potential drug reactions in dogs who dont even need treatment.
Diagnosis Of Lyme Borreliosis In Animals
Based on a combination of history, clinical signs, laboratory data, response to therapy, and exclusion of other diseases
Serology is important, but positive results have a low positive predictive value of clinical disease
Culture and PCR do not reliably detect spirochetes
Cytology and histopathology of affected tissues may show characteristic inflammatory changes
A diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis is generally reached through the exclusion of other diseases, in tandem with a history of exposure to ticks, clinical signs, supporting laboratory data, and response to therapy. Because clinical signs are nonspecific, other diseases may mimic the signs of Lyme borreliosis. Moreover, most infected animals are asymptomatic, so a positive test result for B burgdorferi has a low positive predictive value for clinical disease. In other words, a positive test neither demonstrates that current clinical signs are caused by infection with B burgdorferi, nor suggests that the animal is likely to develop clinical illness in the future. Thus, a positive test result in a clinically ill animal may be an incidental finding.
The standard procedure for antibody detection is a two-tiered approach in which samples are screened with a sensitive rapid assay and only positively reacting samples are rechecked with specific confirmatory tests. Although quantitative antibody assays are available to test for C6, titer magnitude is a poor predictor of current or future illness.
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