Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Testing, Treatment, and Prevention
Similar to human beings, dogs are also infected by various forms of illness and diseases. The life span of a dog is anywhere between 7 to 18 years. Maximum care should be taken at every stage of a dog growth to prevent any illness, whether it is major or minor
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease in dog is caused by a form of bacteria named Borella Burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans by the black legged deer tick insect. This deer tick itself is infected from mice or deer which these ticks feed on. It is a skin disease. It starts with redness in the skins and then slowly spreads. Fever, headache, joint pains, neck ache, tiredness etc are the symptoms. The tick is a black coloured insect.
How it is caused In Dogs?
Lyme disease in dogs is transmitted in the same way in dogs as it is in human beings. The deer tick is the infector for this type of dog illness through its bite to the dog. This tick or insect is found in tall grasses, marshes, thick Bushes, Muddy land etc. where the pet dog goes out for a walk. Once attached to the dog for about 24 or 48 hours, this deer tick can transmit the disease. In the dogs, similar to humans, it takes the form of a bacterial illness. Another word for this disease is the Borreliosis.
Which body parts of the dogs are affected?
Once it is infected, it gets into the bloodstream of the dog and then into the other parts of the dog. Over a period of time, it starts causing body problems in organs like joints, hip and can lead to illness and even kidney related problems for dog. In some of the rare cases, Lyme disease in dogs can affect the heart and the nervous system. This depends on the depth to which it is affected and how fast the treatment is given to the affected dog at the early stage itself.
Another thing to be noted is that Lyme disease in dogs does not spread from animal to animal or from animal to human beings or through food.
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What types of Dogs get this illness or disease?
The younger dogs have more chances of getting this disease than the aged dogs. The ticks can get attached to any type of dog or breed. Some breeds like Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Burmese mountain dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs have more chances of getting kidney related problems from the Lyme disease in dogs and sometimes it can also be fatal.
What is the season or is any there any specific time for this disease?
The deer tick insect can latch on to the dogs and pass the disease at any time of the year. But it is more visible during summer time because during winter time, these insects go underneath and do not come out much. However even during a warm day in winter season they can come out and get attached to dogs.
Which part of the world the Lyme disease in dogs is more widespread?
Although it exists in all the countries of the world, it is more visible in countries like USA, Canada and Western Europe.
What is the Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?
Dogs purebred and mixed breed which are affected by this illness have repeated lameness or difficulty in walking due to inflammation of the joints. In some cases this lameness problems last for only a few days but comes back after few days or sometimes even weeks. The lameness can be in the same leg or in a different one. This is known as “shifting leg lameness”. The joints will start to become swollen and painful.
Some of the other main symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs include – touch sensitivity, difficulty in breathing, increased sitting and lying down, fever – body temperature of the dog goes beyond 102.5 F , and lack of appetite, increased intake of water – also called polydipsia ,
Swelling of the superficial lymph nodes which is very near to the point of tick bite, intolerance to daily exercise, lethargy.
Heart abnormalities and nervous system complications – although both of these will be rare.
Symptoms due to Kidney failure includes– vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive fluid build-up, increasing lack of appetite.
How is Lyme disease in dogs tested and detected?
If there is suspicion of the Lyme disease in the pet dog, then it is best to take it to nearest veterinarian doctor for testing. There are two types of blood test –
The first is the antibody test which checks for the presence of Antibody which checks for the level of antibodies in the dog due its exposure to the Borella Burgdorferi bacteria. Recently infected dogs and dogs infected for a long time may not show sufficient level of antibodies for the test to be declared positive.
The second blood test is known as polymerase chain reaction which looks for the presence of the same bacterium. Negative test can happen if the disease causing bacteria is present in the joints but not in the blood cells that was tested.
What is the treatment suggested?
If the there is a positive test for Lyme Disease in Dogs, then such dogs are normally treated as outpatients. The most common antibiotic used to treat all breed dogs for this illness is Doxy cycline. Other medicines may also be used as per advice of the veterinary doctor. The treatment time is normally 4 weeks but can take longer also. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers are given if the joint pains are very high.
What are the best prevention steps?
Check the dog every time after it is taken for its daily walk since there it is from outside that the tick insect latches on to the dog. Check the feet, lips, eyes, ears, tail.
Remove the tick from the dog body immediately using a tweezers. It should be done properly and no tick should be left in the body.
It is better to buy Veterinary approved flea and tick preparations from the shops.
Keep the grass lawns inside the house short. It is better to avoid taking the dog out in areas having tall grass, bushes, woody and marshy areas.