Lyme disease is the most tick-transmitted disease in the United States, spreading throughout the United States and Europe. Dogs, especially younger dogs, are more often at risk and symptoms can lead to severe kidney and nervous system damage. It is important to know what the symptoms of Lyme disease and how best to protect yourself and your pets.
The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, causes Lyme Disease. The bacteria lives in deer, mice, and other mammals. The deer tick contracts the bacteria after feeding on an affected host and then spreads it to others. Dogs are the most frequently affected, but Borrelia burgdorferi can also affect horses, cattle, cats and even humans. Though you cannot contract Lyme Disease from your pet. Lyme Disease can be passed to your dog after 1-3 days of the tick being attached.
Only 5-10% of affected dogs show symptoms, and they can range from mild to severe. It is important to have a veterinarian diagnose and treat your dog to prevent worse symptoms.
*Lameness and Inflammation. Your dog may walk stiffly with an arched back. Another common symptom is swollen joints and being sensitive to touch. This usually lasts 3-4 days but can reoccur weeks later. It is important to have a veterinarian distinguish this from arthritis.
*Lack of appetite.
*More serious complications are possible, like kidney failure and heart or nervous system damage. Kidney disease is more common in Shetland sheepdogs, Bernese Mountain dogs, Labrador retrievers, and Golden retrievers.
Lyme disease can be diagnosed by a trained and licensed veterinarian. There many different tests to determine Lyme Disease, some may include X-rays, blood tests, fecal examination, urine analysis, or collecting fluid from affected joints.
Treatment includes antibiotics and possibly an anti-inflammatory or pain reliever if needed. The dog is usually treated as an outpatient unless more serious conditions arise, like kidney or nervous system damage. The length of treatment is on average four weeks. In some cases, the antibiotics don't kill off the bacteria and symptoms may return. It is important to watch your pet for symptoms to prevent any future kidney damage.
There are several different methods to prevent Lyme Disease. You can remove the ticks from your dog by hand. You must do this daily or after any possible exposure. There are also sprays or collars to repel ticks. Another recommended method, especially in areas with a high concentration of Lyme disease, is a vaccine. Please contact your veterinarian for further information on Lyme vaccines and the prevention of Lyme disease.