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Lyme Disease in Dogs, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Lyme disease in dogs? What are the symptoms of Lyme disease? How to cure a dog with Lyme disease? How to prevent dogs from getting Lyme disease? Can I catch Lyme disease from my dog? Learn more about Lyme disease, how it is spread, and how to prevent your dog from getting this disease.

Many dog owners, and especially those who live in, or near wooded, or natural areas, are somewhat aware of a serious disease known as Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is a relatively new disease, first being recognized in 1975 in the city of Lyme, Connecticut.  It was not known in dogs until the mid 1980's.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria of the Borella type, but is spread by ticks. The ticks that spread Lyme disease normally live on deer, and as such are found in areas where white-tailed deer are common. The ticks typically must be attached to the dog for at least 12 hours in order for transmission to be a risk.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease – May differ from dog to dog

  • Lameness, often in different legs from day to day
  • Dog may walk with a stiff, or arched, back
  • Joints may be swollen, the dog may react in pain when the joints are touched
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Bullseye type rash around the bite area
  • Kidney problems – which may trigger other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, increased thirst/urination

Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Diagnosis of Lyme disease is done with the help of a veterinarian who will want to know the dog's history. You should also note if you had found a tick on your dog, or not, as well as where the tick was.

Generally treatment for Lyme disease, unless there are problems with the kidneys or heart, is usually done on the dog as an out-patient. In other words the dog does not remain at the veterinarian's office. As Lyme disease is bacterial in nature the treatment involves antibiotics. The dog should be kept comfortable and not exercised hard, rather it should be encouraged to rest. The dog should be kept warm.

The treatment for Lyme Disease may take as long as four weeks and there is no guarantee it will work. Some symptoms, such as inflamed joints, usually start to go away after only a few days.

Prevention of Lyme Disease

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is by using treatments to prevent ticks on dogs. Not all of these are safe, or effective, so it is best to speak to your veterinarian and avoid buying the over the counter flea and tick medications.

When walking your dog avoid tall grasses or wooded areas, always check your dog after a walk and remove any ticks (and destroy them) you find. Ticks could be anywhere on the dog but would most likely be on the head, neck, legs, and stomach, they may be very small when the first attach to the dog. Ticks are normally brown and black in color, but their abdomen becomes large and gray after feeding.

Regular grooming, and keeping hair trimmed neatly, can help prevent ticks from going undetected.

Farm dogs are often at risk, as it is not uncommon for deer to come into farm yards for hay. Many farmers keep free range chickens, ducks, or guinea fowl, to reduce the numbers of ticks in the area.

Note that Lyme disease can occur in other animals too, it has been found in cats, dogs, horses, and people. You cannot catch it from your dog, only from an infected tick.

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Comments (2)

This is a very timely piece! Thank you.

Ranked #3 in Pet Health

great article as always

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