Diagnosing Lyme Disease In Dogs
In order to properly diagnose Lyme disease, vets will perform two types of blood tests that can indicate whether or not your dog is infected.
The antibody test will detect the presence of not just bacterium, but also specific antibodies that are formed in the dogs body in reaction of the bacterium. If the test comes back positive, then your dog has in fact been exposed to the bacterium. There is a possibility of it coming back as a false positive, though. This occurs when the dog doesnt have a high enough level of antibodies in their system. Therefore, the test is unable to pick up on them.
Another test that vets conduct is a polymerase chain reaction test, a specific DNA test that confirms the presence of the disease-causing bacteria. Unlike the first test, this test looks directly for the presence of disease-causing bacteria rather than just looking for antibodies.
How To Diagnose Lyme Disease In Dogs
Diagnosis of Lyme disease can be done by your veterinarian taking a complete history of the dog and by running some basic blood work. History would indicate physical symptoms and possibly exposure to a tick bite, if it were in fact noticed.
However, simple diagnosis isnt as easy as it sounds and veterinarians are aware that the results aren’t always accurate. The two most popular types of tests for Lyme disease are:
There are other tests that may be performed if needed, such as complete blood cell count test, biochemistry test, synovial fluid cytology and culture testing.
The problem with all of these Lyme disease tests is that false negative results can occur in dogs who are suffering from Lyme. Veterinarians know this and often use medical history and other resources for a 5-factor table to draw a more accurate conclusion.
Treating Dog Lyme Disease
If the diagnosis is Lyme disease, your dog will be treated as an outpatient unless their condition is unstable . Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is prescribed for Lyme disease, but other antibiotics are also effective.
Treatment usually takes at least 4 weeks, and longer courses may be necessary in some cases. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory if your dog is especially uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, antibiotic treatment does not always completely eliminate the infection from Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Symptoms may resolve but then return at a later date, and the development of kidney disease in the future is always a concern.
Administering the antibiotics properly to your dog reduces the likelihood of chronic consequences.
Improvement in sudden inflammation of the joints caused by Borrelia should be seen after 3-5 days of antibiotic treatment. If there is no improvement within 3-5 days, your veterinarian will want to reevaluate your dog.
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How Often After Treatment Should Dog Be Retested
Preferably, a retest is performed after 6 months from the C6 antibody test. There are various treatments available for dogs with Lyme disease. There are dogs that are asymptomatic and might not show biological or hematologic changes. While they seem fine on the outside, they must still be monitored closely for the development of clinical signs or proteinuria.
Diagnosing And Treating Canine Lyme Disease
Testing for Lyme involves two blood tests called the C6 test and the Quant C6 test, A preliminary blood test used to detect protein antibodies in the animals blood, the C6 test determines whether a Lyme infection exists. Antibodies are detectable from three to five weeks after an animal is bitten. In addition, C6 tests are offered as one part of a testing package that can detect other tick-borne infections. When C6 tests are positive, the Quant C6 test is then ordered to find out if antibody levels are elevated enough to justify starting treatment for an active Lyme disease infection.
Blood tests for Lyme disease determine red and white blood cell counts. A low red cell count and high white cell count may indicate the presence of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. A veterinarian will also perform a thorough check of your dogs skin to determine if any ticks are still attached and alive. If Lyme disease is suspected, your dog will be placed on a regimen of antibiotics to eradicate Lyme disease bacteria.
Veterinarians may also want to do additional tests such as:
- Blood chemistries to evaluate pancreatic, liver and kidney functioning
- Quantitative bacteria antibody screenings to monitor treatment response
- Electrolyte assessment to ensure your dog isnt dehydrated
- ECG tests to detect abnormal heart rhythms
- Urine tests to evaluate kidney functioning
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Can Vaccinated Dog Get Lyme Disease
The vaccine doesnt make your dog immune to Lyme disease. Though it provides an extra layer of protection to help them fight the bacteria carrying this disease. Lyme disease vaccines provide additional protection to dogs from the bacterial infection brought by deer ticks. These vaccines are grouped into core and non-core.
With a core vaccine, it is suggested for all dogs, regardless of breed, and usually includes canine parvovirus, distemper, rabies, and dog hepatitis.
For the noncore vaccine, this is recommended as per the exposure risk of dogs as a result of their lifestyle and geographic location.
Between the two groups, Lyme vaccine belongs to Noncore. In the US, the reports of infection for Lyme disease keep on growing. This is why it becomes a vital consideration among dog owners to have their dogs vaccinated.
What Is The Prognosis Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Like other dog health issues, there are a few factors that determine your pets prognosis. The prognosis depends on the time of detection of the disease, Dr. Muller says. In the case of early treatment without manifest symptoms, the prognosis is good. However, if clinical symptoms are already present that have caused damage to the kidneys, heart, and nervous system, then the prognosis is poor.
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Tick Borne Diseases In Dogs: How To Spot And Prevent These Potentially Dangerous Diseases
Many people think that ticks can only affect humans, but, in fact, dogs are more commonly used as a host than humans. Not only can ticks be shocking and disturbing to find feeding on your pet, but they can also pass serious diseases.
Here at Prairie View Animal Hospital we use the 4dx test to screen our dogs annually for an immune respose to three common tick-bourne diseases, lyme, ehrlichia, and anaplasma. Unfortunately, all three diseases have been diagnosed in patients in our hospital just this year.
Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Dogs often carry Lyme disease without showing any symptoms at all . That said, other dogs can suffer from a range of painful symptoms. If your dog has contracted Lyme disease, they may show one or more of the following symptoms.
- Breathing difficulties
If your pooch is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet to book an examination.
If left untreated, the effects of Lyme disease in dogs can be serious or even life-threatening. Untreated the condition can lead to kidney failure, serious heart problems and neurological issues in dogs.
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Summary Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease is transmitted via tick bites, and can cause lameness, swollen joints and even kidney failure. While it can be treated if the case is not too severe, prevention is best. The best way to prevent an infection is to reduce your dogs exposure to ticks and stay up-to-date on monthly preventatives and Lyme vaccinations.
Lyme Disease In Dogs: Causes Treatment And Prevention
There are certain health conditions that are specific to dog breeds. For example, flat-faced dogs are prone to suffering from breathing complications. Then again, there are general health problems that could affect any dog breed. One of these is Lyme disease in dogs.
Contents of the article
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How Can You Prevent A Dog From Becoming Infected With Lyme Disease
The best method of preventing Lyme disease is to avoid tick-infested areas, especially in the spring when the young ticks are most active.
When returning from a tick-infested area, do a thorough search for ticks on yourself and your animals. Ticks should be removed carefully with tweezers, pinching the tick near the point they enter the skin.
There are also many highly effective veterinary products that will kill ticks on your dog before they can transmit the bacteria. Early removal of ticks reduces the chance of transmission.
A vaccine has been approved for use in dogs for Lyme disease prevention, but most authors of veterinary articles on Lyme disease do not recommend vaccinating dogs in non-endemic areas. Not all authors agree on how effective the vaccine is in preventing Lyme disease or whether it should be given in endemic regions. For more information about tick control products or Lyme disease, consult your veterinarian.
Warning Signs Of Untreated Lyme Disease In Dogs
Both humans and dogs are susceptible to a bacterial illness known as Lyme disease. The illness, which is transmitted by certain species of ticks, can create a number of health complications throughout the body, especially when left undiagnosed and untreated.
Identifying the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can be more complicated than with humans, though, due to the different ways the illness may affect your pet’s health and produce symptoms. But identifying Lyme disease is crucial to getting your dog effective treatment for this condition. Avoiding doing so may lead to rare but serious health complications that may affect your dog’s quality of life or even put their life at risk. Take a few minutes to educate yourself on the common Lyme symptoms in dogs, and what you can do to treat and prevent this condition.
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Causes Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by B. burgdorferi bacteria spread by tick bites, and environment and lifestyle can contribute to exposure.
- Tick bites: A bite from an infected tick, likely the black-legged deer tick , is the only way a dog can contract Lyme disease since not all ticks carry the bacteria. A tick acquires the B. burgdorferi bacteria when feeding on infected mice or other small animals and then transmits it to dogs. It takes one to two days for an attached tick to transmit the bacteria to its host, making prompt tick removal essential to curbing Lyme disease.
- Environment: Ticks are more prevalent in wooded, grassy areas, especially in the Northeast, Northwest, and upper Midwest. Ticks are most active when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and when the humidity is at least 85 percent.
- Lifestyle: Dogs with very active, outdoor lifestyles are more likely to encounter ticks and possibly contract Lyme disease.
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.
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Does Immediate Treatment After Bite Negate Lyme Disease
Sadly, immediate treatment doesnt negate Lyme disease. The treatment must not be solely based on the tick bite. Perhaps, you may think that ticks are the main source of Lyme disease. Actually, they are not. Truth is, the infection rate of ticks would vary as well on their location.
Say that the tick was infected, then it is essential to perform treatment right away. Though the tick should feed for a minimum of 1 day on its host for it to successfully transmit the Borrelia burgdorferi virus.
But if antibody levels are present, then the treatment can be performed almost immediately. In this stage, the treatment works effectively in negating Lyme disease in dogs.
The 7 Telltale Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
1. The first symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is often loss of appetite, which may be accompanied by lethargy or shaking. Dogs with Lyme disease may stop eating because they feel ill and have generally reduced energy levels. These symptoms may come and go, but if they persist for over a week, or if it happens suddenly and without warning, make sure to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. It’s a sign that an infection has become serious.
2. Fever isone of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, it’s also one of the first things a vet will check for. A fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern, but keep in mind that not all dogs with a fever have Lyme disease. Other illnesses can cause fevers too, so get tested for both before coming to any conclusions about what may be wrong with your dog.
3. The most common symptom of Lyme disease in both humans and dogs is lameness or joint pain, accompanied by swelling or soreness on the affected limb. This is because the bacteria enters the body through the bloodstream and makes its way to the joints, where it causes inflammation and pain. Symptoms usually only appear in one or two limbs at first, often switching between front and back legs.
4. General discomfort or malaise is a common Lyme disease symptom. If you notice your dogs acting more lethargic, and look uncomfortable when they would normally be happy, call your veterinarian.
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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.
How Do Dogs Act With Ticks
If you start seeing the following symptoms, your dog may have a tick somewhere on their body: Licking and chewing: Your dog may lick and chew at a particular area on its body where the tick is located. Red, inflamed skin: Sometimes, the skin around the embedded tick can become swollen, inflamed, and red.
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Recovery And Management Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
You can expect to see improvement in mild cases of Lyme disease in dogs 3 to 5 days into antibiotic therapy. Severe cases may take longer and can be fatal if kidney damage is too advanced.
Antibiotics do not always eliminate Lyme disease. Dogs infected with Lyme disease will be prone to recurrence of the infection in the future, but antibiotics can be used again to treat the condition.
Owners can help manage their dogs condition by complying with their veterinarians advice and following the instructions on the medication. Learning to recognize the signs of Lyme disease will also help owners get their dogs started on medication as soon as possible to prevent serious side effects in the future.
Lyme Disease: A Pet Owner’s Guide
Lyme disease is an illness that affects both animals and humans what is known as a zoonotic disease and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Transmitted through tick bites, the disease can be difficult to detect and can cause serious and recurring health problems. Therefore, it is best to prevent infection by taking appropriate measures to prevent tick bites and, for dogs, possibly vaccinating against the disease.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease a worm-like, spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi is carried and transmitted primarily by the tiny black-legged tick known as the deer tick. Deer ticks are found in forests or grassy, wooded, marshy areas near rivers, lakes or oceans. People or animals may be bitten by deer ticks during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, or even while spending time in their back yards.
Named after numerous cases were identified in Lyme, Conn., in 1975, the disease has since been reported in humans and animals across the United States and around the world. Within the U.S., it appears primarily in specific areas including the southern New England states eastern Mid-Atlantic states the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota and on the West Coast, particularly northern California. The CDC maintains a map detailing confirmed cases of Lyme disease throughout the years.
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