Lyme Disease in Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment & Guidelines
Lyme disease in dogs is one of the most common infections that can occur anywhere irrespective of the weather or other conditions. Lyme disease is carried by ticks, but they are not the actual causative organism. Instead, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is responsible for the infection.
The bacterium gets into the tick, and the tick latches on to the dog’s skin through a bite and transmits the bacterium into the bloodstream. After it enters the bloodstream of the dog, it targets the joints and organs.
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Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs
General symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:
Specific symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs does not start to show until about two to five months after initial infection from the tick host. There are three stages of the Lyme infection in dogs with some particular symptoms attached to each stage:
Acute Lyme Disease
At this stage, your dog would start by showing symptoms of fever, lose interest in favorite activities, and be unmotivated to move or go on walks. You would also notice a reduction in their appetite – the dog may stop finishing its usual ration or not touch the food at all. The dog can also have swollen lymph nodes and painful joints that would feel warm when you touch it. Your dog might drag one leg when it is walking.
Subacute Lyme Disease
At this stage, the movement restriction would be advanced, and your dog would be able to walk barely. There can be a pain in some joints or all the joints.
Chronic Lyme Disease
This is the last stage, and the infection would start affecting major organs such as the kidney, liver, and the brain.
Testing for Lyme Disease in Dogs
Testing for Lyme disease in dogs can be tricky, depending on the stage of the infection. Usually, your vet will perform a blood test to check for antibodies created by the bacterium. If antibodies are present, it means that your dog has Lyme disease.
However, this test is not entirely foolproof as dogs that have just been recently infected may not have enough antibodies to show up in the trial. The same also goes for dogs in the end stage that may not have enough antibodies to give a positive result.
The other type of test looks for the specific DNA of the causative bacterium. That can also come up with a false negative as the particular cells used may not contain the bacteria while it may be present in other joints.
Treatment is targeted at reducing the symptoms
Prevention is always better than cure, and you should consider ways to prevent your dog from getting Lyme’s disease:
Looking for ticks on your dog is not just necessary for your dog’s health as humans can also contract Lyme disease if an infectious tick bites you. Hence, the tick brought in by your dog can easily get on your skin.
When you look out for your dog and prevent it from getting Lyme’s disease, you are also looking out for your health.