Lyme disease is often associated with humans being bitten by ticks. Since the disease is transmitted by ticks, it should come as no surprise that dogs can also get it. In humans, the disease can take months to treat, but what about in dogs?
Lyme disease manifests in a number of different ways in dogs, but there are symptoms that you should be aware of so you can watch out for them. We will also discuss treatment options and other aspects of the disease in this article. If you believe that your dog has Lyme disease, you should seek veterinary treatment right away.
Signs Your Dog Has Lyme Disease
Ticks can cause all kinds of problems for dogs, but Lyme disease is one of the most serious. When a dog is infected with Lyme disease, you may notice that they are lethargic and running a fever. Other symptoms include joint pain and loss of appetite. Leg and body pain may also be present, and swollen lymph nodes are also a possibility. These symptoms may cause your dog to be more still than normal or walk with a stiff, painful gait.
Symptoms may seem to vanish only to reappear later. Lyme disease has many long-term effects, and it is a difficult disease to diagnose because the symptoms don’t stand out in any way. To diagnose Lyme disease, your veterinarian will ask you about the possibility of tick exposure and watch any symptoms, as well as complete diagnostic testing. Once your dog has been properly diagnosed, your veterinarian will provide you with treatment options.
Since all dog breeds are susceptible to Lyme disease, it is a good idea to use flea and tick preventatives year-round, especially if you take your dog hunting or on other outdoor adventures. In addition, it is a good idea to get your pooch vaccinated against Lyme disease.
- Noticable tick bites
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and sore joints
History of Dogs Living Through Lyme Disease
In the past, it may have been difficult for dogs to survive Lyme disease due to the inability to diagnose the disease. Now, there are numerous tests for vets to use to determine whether or not your pooch has Lyme disease. Fortunately, this means that fewer dogs die from Lyme disease now.
To prevent Lyme disease, you can have your dog vaccinated and use flea and tick preventatives. If your dog does contract Lyme disease, however, they are likely to exhibit the symptoms listed above. These symptoms are caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium in the bite of an infected tick.
Since ticks can live in many outdoor settings, it is important to be diligent about prevention and removal of any ticks. It takes more than two days for ticks to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to their hosts, so if you think your pet may have been exposed to ticks, you should check them out and remove any ticks that you do find.
Luckily for dogs, modern medicine has made diagnosing and treating Lyme disease much easier than it was just a couple decades ago. With different treatments available, more dogs make a full recovery after contracting the disease, but it can also cause further health complications.
Science Behind Dogs Getting Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is more common in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwestern areas of the United States. Deer ticks are known to transmit the disease. Caused by bacteria, Lyme disease causes an infection which leads to fever, joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and more.
Since the tick needs to stay attached to the host for at least 50 hours to transmit the disease, it is important to regularly check your pet for ticks if they have been exposed. You should also know how to properly remove a tick from your pet’s body. Once your pet has been exposed to Lyme disease, you should start to see the symptoms come and go for days at a time.
Dealing with a Lyme Disease Diagnosis
When a dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, quick treatment is important, because Lyme disease can lead to further health complications such as joint, heart, kidney, and nervous system problems. The long-term effects of Lyme disease can be just as dangerous, or even more dangerous, than the disease itself.
Treatment of Lyme disease generally includes a round of antibiotics and possibly other medications to help relieve joint pain or other symptoms. Antibiotics for Lyme disease may be required for up to a month, while many other diseases or infections require antibiotics for just a few days.
Relapses are common for Lyme disease, so pet owners of dogs who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease should always be on the lookout for signs of Lyme disease symptoms.
If you live in one of the areas where Lyme disease is most common, speak to your veterinarian about the Lyme disease vaccine. While there is a vaccine, it isn’t usually included in the group of typical vaccines dogs are given. You will also want to keep up with booster shots for Lyme disease. The vaccine may not be an option for all dogs, so be sure to discuss it with your veterinarian.
If you plan on traveling with your dog to an area where Lyme disease is common, you may also want to consider the vaccine. Since ticks migrate and move around, you can request a Lyme disease test if you see your dog presenting any of the symptoms listed above.
A few tips for preventing Lyme disease include:
- Regularly check your dog for ticks and remove any pests immediately
- Use reliable tick preventatives to kill and repel ticks
- Avoid areas where ticks are likely to reside such as wooded areas or areas of tall grass
- Alert your veterinarian to possible exposure to ticks
How to Help Your Dog Recover from Lyme Disease:
Thoroughly follow all treatment plans from your veterinarian.
Keep your dog up-to-date on tick preventatives.