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.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are a few blood tests that may be used for confirmation. The first is an antibody test, that your veterinarian can perform in the clinic setting using a special test kit. This test detects the presence of antibodies created by exposure to the organism. A test can be falsely negative if the dog is infected, but has not yet formed antibodies, or if it never forms enough antibodies to cause a positive reaction. It is recommended to test no earlier than 4 weeks after a tick bite. Some dogs that have been infected for long periods of time may no longer have enough antibodies present to be detected by the test. Therefore, a positive test is meaningful, but a negative is not. A follow up test called a QC6 test can be done to assess the numerical antibody level as confirmation.
Other tests including PCR , ELISA , joint fluid analysis, and culture can also be done with varying degrees of sensitivity, but are done less commonly. General blood and urine tests are also often done to assess kidney function and look for loss of protein in the urine. See handout Testing for Lyme Disease in Dogs for further information.
Reason #: Bone Disease
Younger dogs, especially larger breeds, sometimes develop panosteitis or hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Both of these are types of bone inflammation that normally occur in puppies aged from 2 to 18 months. Both conditions are more common in the front legs and are very painful to your pooch.
Luckily, both conditions normally go away on their own, and no treatment is required in most cases. Unfortunately, sometimes the cause of the limp may even be bone cancer. If that is the case, a swift diagnosis is crucial for successful treatment.
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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.
Signs Of A Dog With Lyme Disease
There are a few common signs and symptoms that dogs will begin to show if they are affected by Lyme disease. However, it is important to note that many dogs who may be carrying Lyme disease will never show any symptoms and the disease will not affect them. In fact, only about 5-10% of dogs affected with Lyme disease will ever show any actual symptoms.
However, if your dog does begin to show signs of Lyme disease, you may begin to notice your dog limping on one leg one day, and then another day they will limp on the other leg. This is due to inflammation of the joints and the pain from that often shifts. Your dogs may also have a lack of appetite, they may be losing weight, they might pee and drink more water than normal, and they may vomit and very loose stools.
Furthermore, your dog may also walk with an arched back or like they are very stiff, have a sensitivity to touch, fever, depression, trouble breathing, abnormal heartbeat and nervous system complications – although these are very rare.
Your pooch may also feel very lethargic and tired all the time and just not be acting like their normal, happy, and energetic selves.
These are some signs you may notice if your dog has Lyme disease:
- Lameness In Legs That Shifts
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Limping Because Of A Torn Or Embedded Nail
Your dogs nails receive a lot of abuse, especially if your dog runs around a lot.
Nails can become torn or broken off, which can be extremely painful.
If you dont trim your dogs nails regularly and if they dont get enough exercise to wear the nail down naturally, the nail can grow all the way around and embed into the pad of the paw, which can be extremely painful.
This tends to be more likely with small breed dogs, especially dogs that are not particularly active.
Often, a limp will come on gradually as the nail embeds further and further into the pad of the foot.
You may also notice your dog licking or chewing at the area.
It can be hard enough to trim your dogs nails under any circumstances, but if they have a nail embedded in the pad of the foot, they may be very resistant to having it trimmed.
You may need to seek out your veterinarians help to have your dog sedated to trim the nail.
Can My Animal Get Infected Despite Being Vaccinated
Yes. Some animals have been infected despite vaccination. The most common reasons are low or short-lasting vaccine antibodies in the individual animal. It is advisable to monitor the vaccine response annually to ensure the animal develops sufficient antibodies in response to vaccination. Vaccine antibodies can be quantified with the Lyme Multiplex assay as early as two weeks following vaccination or anytime afterwards.
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Can My Dog Recover From Lyme Disease
Provided the disease is detected and treated effectively early enough, with the course of antibiotics signs of Lyme disease typically resolve within the first 3 days.
However, the organism that causes Lyme disease is very good at hiding and while treatment is typically successful in eliminating clinical signs, dogs that test positive for Lyme disease will remain positive for years, if not forever. If your dog tests positive but is not sick, your veterinarian will tell you whether they recommend treating at that time.
Though most dogs infected with Lyme disease will develop arthritis, the silent killer is the Lyme organism and antibodies produced after exposure, which can damage the filter in the kidneys. The impact of this form of the disease on the kidneys can easily go unnoticed until it is too late. If your vet determines that the kidneys have been affected, this can be treated and monitored before severe renal problems arise.
Lyme Disease Treatment For Dogs
Fortunately, treatment of most cases of canine Lyme disease is very simple: a three- to four-week course of antibiotics. Even if the dog has had signs of disease for quite some time, she should respond very quickly, within the first 48 hours of starting antibiotic therapy, and recovery will in the great majority of cases be complete. There will generally be no residual effects of the illness.
The one Lyme-related situation for which administration of antibiotics wont work is if the infection is associated with kidney damage . It isnt certain that the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease are what cause the kidney syndrome. It may be a different pathogen transmitted with tick bites. But in very rare cases, a dog will die from kidney complications having to do with a tick borne infection. Dr. Stone at Tufts is one of the veterinarians conducting research into the problem and how to treat it successfully. Specifically, he is investigating a different bacteria associated with tick bites, Babesia microti, as the possible cause of Lyme nephritis. According to Dr. Stone, the association of kidney failure and Lyme disease is incompletely understood, and much more work needs to be done.
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What To Expect At The Vets Office
If your pet has been diagnosed with uncomplicated Lyme disease, this is what you can expect to happen at your veterinarians office.
- Depending on the type of test used to screen for Lyme disease, a confirmatory test may be necessary.
- Urine protein screening — In general, only dogs who have symptoms of Lyme disease or protein in their urine should be treated with antibiotics.
- Dogs with protein in their urine should have regularly scheduled rechecks to monitor their condition.
Treatment For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Veterinarians treat dogs with Lyme disease through a combination of medical therapy and supportive care. A 4-to 6-week course of antibiotics will be prescribed for dogs with clinical signs of Lyme disease, as well as for dogs that have a high antibody level, even if they are asymptomatic. Many owners see improvement within a few days. However, a second round of antibiotics is often required, as the infection may persist through the first round of treatment.
Severe cases of Lyme disease will acquire additional therapy to treat affected kidneys, heart, or nerves, along with supportive care like intravenous fluids. Re-checking blood work is recommended six months after completing antibiotic therapy to determine if treatment has been successful.
There is some debate within the veterinary community as to whether dogs should be treated if they test positive for Lyme disease but are asymptomatic and have a low antibody level. Your veterinarian will speak to you about different options so that you can come up with the best treatment plan for your dog.
Lyme disease can stay in your dogs body even with antibiotics. In these cases, the disease often flares up when a dogs immune system is suppressed or weakened, such as during periods of stress. The same antibiotic can be used to treat repeated recurrences of Lyme disease. Unlike other types of infections, the lingering infection is not a direct result of antibiotic resistance.
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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.
Reason #: Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a serious infection that is spread in dogs through tick bites. Symptoms often include swollen and painful limbs, which will affect the way your dog moves. If your dogs limping is followed by other symptoms such as a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a loss of appetite, contact your vet immediately.
You should also get your dog checked out for Lyme disease if he suffers from recurring lameness. The limp occurs due to joint inflammation. It normally goes away after a few days, only to appear again days or even weeks later.
Also Check: How To Know If A Tick Has Lyme Disease
What Causes Lyme Disease In Dogs
Dogs contract Lyme disease through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks contain the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a type of organism known as a spirochete.
There are at least four species of ticks in the world known to carry Lyme disease:
In the United States, the most common source of transmission is the Deer Tick or Black-Legged Tick, scientifically known as Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast and Ixodes scapularis on the East Coast. In Europe, the Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus ticks carry Lyme disease.
These ticks are tiny, which can make them hard to see or feel on your dog, and all stages of the tick can carry and spread the disease, although adult ticks tend to be the most infectious. It typically takes 24 to 48 hours after attaching to a host for the tick to spread the Lyme-causing bacteria, although transmission of disease can sometimes occur much more rapidly.
Certain areas are more prone to ticks than others. Wooded or grassy areas and areas with large tick populations pose the highest risk of infection. Ticks tend to be most active in the spring and fall when they are actively seeking hosts, which increases the risk of Lyme transmission. However, recent evidence indicates that ticks are also active in winter, as long as the temperature is above freezing.
Limping Caused By Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a serious tick-borne illness in our canine friends.
Diagnosis can be difficult due to the vague symptoms it causes, as well as the long incubation period from infection to symptom development.
Ticks with Lyme disease are most common in forested areas where mice and deer can be found, but they can also show up in more urban areas.
Some of the many symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:
- Limping typically moving from one leg to the other
If you see that your dog is limping on a back leg one day and on a front leg another day, this is a always a symptom you should share with your veterinarian.
If your vet is able to diagnose your pup with Lyme disease, many cases can be treated with antibiotic therapy.
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Common Misconceptions About Lyme Disease:
1. If a dog tests positive for Lyme disease, it means she has it.
2. Dogs are much more likely than people to become ill from Lyme disease.
3. A dog infected with Lyme disease will tend to start showing symptoms within a month, and sometimes within the first 18 hours.
4. Dogs can transmit Lyme disease to people.
5. Lyme disease strikes only in warm weather.
A lot of times, a dog will test positive for Lyme disease, and her owners get nervous that their pet is sick and needs treatment, but the dog is fine. How can that be?
Its because testing positive for Lyme simply means that antibodies to the illness have been detected in the dogs blood. It does not mean that the animals body is actually being affected by the disease. How can that be?
The fact that a dog can test positive for Lyme disease yet not actually have it in a way that matters has led to a lot of nervous owners, and sometimes, even veterinarians who have over-treated. To clear up the misconceptions, heres what you need to know.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease
The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees, especially cedar trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect an approaching animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.
“Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent.”
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Everything You Need To Know About Lyme Disease In Dogs
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Lyme disease is a fairly common illness in dogs, just as it is in humans. And cases continue to rise in both species every year. Despite widely available preventative measures for dogs, the Companion Animal Parasite Council reported that confirmed cases in the U.S. rose over 43% between 2017 and 2021.
Heres everything you need to know about spotting the symptoms, preventing, diagnosing, and treating this expensive tick-borne illness. Symptoms can take months to develop so its important to keep an eye on your pup long after a tick bite.
Dog Limping: Symptoms Causes And Treatments
By Katelyn Son | Updated November 10, 2022
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Dogs are hyperactive bundles of joy, always hopping and bouncing around. Therefore, if your dog is limping and perceives moving and using its legs as a challenge rather than an enjoyable activity, you need to call your trusted veterinarian and schedule an appointment ASAP.
Dog limping is a distressing condition for both you and your dog. Considering the vast number of reasons that can lead to limping and their diversity in terms of severity, the limping problem is not a thing you should ignore.
The sooner you deal with it, the sooner your dog will be back to its old self doing shenanigans on all four legs.
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Limping Because Of Problems With The Joint
One of the most common reasons why your dog may be limping is due to joint problems.
There is a wide range of joint issues that can lead to limping, including hip or elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis, luxating patellas, and intervertebral disk disease.
Your dog may begin limping all of a sudden, for instance, if a luxating patella pops out, or the limping may come on gradually.
Sometimes your dog may be limping, but not showing any other signs of pain.
This is particularly likely with luxating patella since of the joint may slip out, causing your dog to limp for a couple of steps but not change their gait or seem bothered.
Depending on whats going on with your dogs joints, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, physical therapy, or a joint supplement like glucosamine or chondroitin.