Lyme disease constitutes the most prevalent disease spread via tick bites. Both animals and humans are susceptible to the spirochete known as Borrelia burgdorferi that is at the root of the condition.
The extent of the manifestations you should anticipate in your canine friend varies a great deal, depending on the race, the immune system of the dog and the age. You should also know that the age variable influences the chances of contracting Lyme disease in the first place. Studies have shown that young puppies are more susceptible to developing the condition than adult dogs.
Where is Lyme condition most widespread?
Dog cases of Lyme disease have mostly been reported in Europe and the United States. The geographical locations where the condition is frequently encountered in canines are the coasts of the Atlantic, the Pacific oceans and the Midwestern countries. However, it is important to note that all ticks are living organisms that adapt and that their eggs can be carried by unaware hosts. Therefore, even if you don’t live in the aforementioned regions, your dog is not automatically 100% safe.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
As previously mentioned, there are a number of symptoms that may or may not manifest; it mainly depends on variables like the dog’s overall health and immune system, breed and age.
The limb lameness is among the most frequently encountered one. Your dog might start walking with a limp because the bacteria cause the articulations in the legs to inflame. The inflammation could become acute, in the sense that it persists for a few days and disappears, only to recur a couple of weeks later. The inflammation is commonly associated with swelling and abnormal warmth in the joint area. Take note that the lameness does not necessarily affect the same leg on subsequent manifestations.
Kidney disease, or more specifically glomerulonephritis, constitutes another risk for Lyme disease infected canines. The kidney affliction left untreated results in full-blown kidney failure and the associated symptoms: vomit, diarrhea, loss of appetite and fluid buildups.
Other signs that your canine friend might be suffering from Lyme disease include:
- Excessive sensitivity to touching
- Difficulties breathing properly
- Fever episodes
- Swollen lymph nodes developed in the proximity of the tick’s bite
- Abnormal cardiac rhythm (relatively infrequent in dogs)
What does the treatment imply?
When the veterinarian diagnoses your dog with a Lyme disease infection, a treatment consisting of antibiotics administered as outpatient will be required. In very rare cases when the health of the animal is at risk or when the condition has been left untreated for an extended period, the dog will have to be kept under surveillance at the veterinarian’s facility. The duration of the antibiotics treatment doesn’t generally exceed 4 weeks. Take note that certain symptoms, like joint pain, may persist although the spirochete is destroyed.
Can Lyme disease be prevented?
The best way to avoid a Lyme disease infection is to steer clear of locations with a high population of ticks. Furthermore, remember to thoroughly brush your dog’s coat after walking it through environments where ticks might be prevalent. Any ticks you find in the process should be carefully removed by hand. Topical tick repellants, sprays, and collars can also be found on the market, but it’s advisable to consult your vet prior to using them.