Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a disease that affects both humans and animals. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported it as a vector-borne disease. It is transmitted by tick bites, and it is very difficult to detect this disease in dogs.
Once the bacteria that cause Lyme disease to enter the bloodstream, it will travel to many parts of the body, eventually localizing to the joints or kidneys. This disease can cause serious illness and sometimes death in dogs.
If you want to know what is Lyme disease in dogs? How does Lyme disease in dogs occur? How is it diagnosed, and what is its treatment, then read this article to the end.
How is Lyme disease transmitted?
The common tick that transmits Lyme disease is the deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick. The deer tick is found throughout the world and is most common in European countries. The deer tick is a carrier of a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, it is a spiral-shaped, worm-like bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
The deer tick is found primarily in grassy or wooded areas and occasionally around rivers, oceans, and lakes. Lyme disease is transmitted to animals when deer ticks bite dogs during outdoor activities, such as camping or walking, or while playing in the park.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
The signs of Lyme disease are very difficult to detect in animals. However, in humans, this disease develops a bull’s-eye shaped rash at the site of the tick bite in three to thirty days. But these signs of a rash are not found in dogs and cats. In fact, it is very rare in cats.
However, the common sign that appears in dogs is that affected dogs may appear to walk on the eggshell. Dogs affected by Lyme disease are taken to the vet because they stopped eating and feel pain in the body.
Also, dogs with Lyme disease have a high fever and also begin to limp. This painful limp appears immediately after the onset of the disease and can pass from one leg to the other. This limp may disappear after a few days and may reappear after a few weeks or months.
Some pets show no signs of Lyme disease for more than a year and remain infected for the entire time, and when any signs finally appear, the disease may have spread throughout the body. Signs that appear when Lyme disease affects the whole body are vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, weight loss, and kidney failure. The form of the disease in which the kidney is affected is not common, but it can cause the death of your pet.
Diagnosis And Indicators
When a dog with swollen joints, lameness, and fever presents to the vet, it can be diagnosed as Lyme disease. However, these signs are not a clear indicator of Lyme disease. Your vet will perform certain blood tests to determine the conformation of this disease.
The first test that can be easily performed in the clinic with special equipment is the antibody test. The test can easily detect antibodies that are formed as a result of exposure to bacteria. Sometimes the test can appear falsely negative if the dog has an infection but has not yet formed the antibodies or if the antibodies are not enough to cause a positive reaction.
Some veterinarians recommend not doing this test earlier than 4 weeks after the tick bite. If dogs remain infected for a longer period of time, they may also not have enough antibodies to be detected by the test. That is why a positive test is considered significant. A QC6 test is performed after this test, and this test can evaluate the numerical level of antibodies as confirmation.
Other tests such as PCR (polymerase chain reaction), joint fluid analysis, ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), and culture are performed with different levels of sensitivity to confirm the disease. General urine and blood tests are often done to assess protein loss in the urine and normal kidney function.
Treatment For Lymes Disease In Dogs
Treatment usually begins immediately after the diagnosis of the disease. A course of antibiotics is carried out for almost four weeks and is essential for all affected dogs. In most cases, a rapid response is seen in diseases of the joints and extremities.
In some animals, the infection can persist even after the first course of antibiotics, so the second course of treatment is performed. Additional treatment is also done to help affected organs and systems, especially when the disease affects the heart, kidney, or nervous system. If the dog experiences a chronic joint problem, he will suffer from joint pain for life due to damage caused by bacteria.
Lymes Disease Prevention
Special preventive measures are taken to prevent disease. The tick prevention program plays an important role. Some highly effective products such as oral, aerosol, or spot products are used for the prevention of ticks in dogs.
These preventative measures must be carried out consistently in order to control the ticks for life. There are also some vaccines available that can prevent infection in dogs. These vaccines work best when given to dogs before exposure to Lyme disease.
The booster shot is also recommended if you live in an area where Lyme disease is very common. If you find ticks on your dog’s body, remove them immediately, this will help prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Lyme disease is zoonotic, but dogs are not the direct source of human transmission. When dogs come home with the infected tick, they will infect another person or animal only if the infected tick is transferred to that person.
Dogs are routinely checked for ticks if they go outdoor, especially when running through bushes and tall grass during the summer, spring, or fall. If you find any ticks on your dog’s body, remove them with fine-tipped tweezers. These forceps help grasp the head of the tick, and the tick is pulled out directly. As you pull the tick, make sure not to squeeze its body.
Canine Lyme disease is a complicated and confusing disease, but you can protect your puppy from this disease by following protective measures and vaccination programs.