Lyme Disease in Dogs
Camping, a simple stroll through a wooded area or even play time at the park all contribute to setting off an alarm in our heads that there may be a tick on us. Our worst fear when exiting a heavy wooded area is finding a red bulls-eye somewhere on our bodies. Lyme disease is the most common tick-transmitted disease worldwide and it occurs frequently in our area. This illness is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi that is carried inside the tick and is transferred through the bite of this insect to other living organisms. When the bacterium has entered the bloodstream, it will then travel to different parts of the body, causing bodily harm to certain organs such as the joints. Although humans have a visual aid to help indicate possible infection with Lyme Disease, it is a little trickier to identify it in our canine companions. Approximately 5-10% of dogs that have become infected show symptoms that they contracted the disease, making it extremely difficult as a pet owner to distinguish this infection. The most common physical symptom that pet owners can notice on their dogs is a developed lameness in their dog’s legs, due to inflammation of their joints.
The black-legged tick, also known as the “deer tick”, serves as the carrier for Lyme disease. The insect itself does not have the disease biologically composed within its system; it only acts as the middleman in carrying disease from organism to organism through its bite.
Lameness is the most common physical symptom developed by dogs that have become infected with Lyme disease. This lameness can last from as little as three to four days. However, due to the prevalent nature of the disease recur days to weeks later in the same or other legs.
In some cases, Lyme disease sometimes leads to glomerulonephritis inflammation (inflammation of the kidneys) accompanied by a deficit in the primary function of the organ – to filter blood. When this type of damage takes way, kidney failure can follow shortly after. Physical symptoms can become obvious for dogs that are experiencing kidney failure for they will vomit, have a lack of appetite, urinate more, and have excessive thirst alongside weight loss.
Other symptoms include:
• A stiffness in gait
• Difficulty breathing
• Sensitivity to touch
• Lack of Appetite
• Swollen lymph nodes
At World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals, we recommend all dogs be tested annually for Lyme Disease. This is a simple blood test – requiring only a few drops – and can be done while you wait at our office; results are ready in 10 minutes.
An Ounce of Prevention
Using monthly Flea & Tick Prevention all year long can help to kill ticks and fleas before they transmit disease.
These medications are designed to kill pests and not meant to prevent disease so for the best prevention ask your veterinarian about a Lyme Disease Vaccination for Your Dogs. The vaccine is given twice the first year (3-4 weeks apart) after that an annual vaccination is needed to maintain your dogs’ immunity.
If you suspect your dog has Lyme Disease, or they are showing any symptoms schedule an appointment right away.