Overview of Lyme Disease in Dogs
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and can transmit to your dog through the bite of a tick. At least 4 species of tick can carry this disease-producing organism. After a bite, the tick transmits the organism into the bloodstream of your dog. Then the bacteria travel to many parts of the body and localize in the specific organs and locations like joints. The most common type of tick that carries the bacteria is known as the black-legged tick or deer tick.
Lyme disease has been reported in every state of the United States. The prevalence of this disease in dogs varies according to the geographical distribution of the tick population. The highest proportion of deer tick has been found in the Ontario state. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease cases increases as double during the past 20 years, to around 30000/year 1.
What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
Though Lyme disease is a common canine disease, only 5-10% of affected dogs show symptoms. Most of the dogs produce no symptoms but acts as a carrier of Lyme disease. The most common symptoms in dogs include 2:
- High fever
- Loss of appetite
- Recurrent lameness
- Stiffness, discomfort, or joint pain
- Swelling of joints
Other signs of this condition may include depression, difficulty breathing, enlarged lymph node, and sensitivity to touch. The affected dog produces a characteristic bulls-eye rash at the biting within 3 to 7 days. The above symptoms can lead to kidney failure and rarely affect the cardiovascular and neurological systems.
How to Diagnose this Lyme Disease?
Diagnosis of Lyme disease can be made by a combination of history, clinical signs, and clinical tests. As soon as you see the typical symptoms of this disease in your dog, please consult with your veterinarian for further steps. Your veterinarian may perform a blood test to be sure about this disease. Other clinical tests include urinalysis, complete blood cell count, serology, X-ray imaging, etc. After confirmation, your veterinarian may go for a suitable treatment plan.
What is the Treatment for Lyme Disease?
Treatment of Lyme disease should include long-term antibiotics such as doxycycline, followed by amoxicillin, then azithromycin. This treatment should continue for at least 30 days. Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications as supportive therapy to relieve some symptoms. You can take suggestions from your veterinarian to select the best drug for your dog.
Removal of the tick is the best option to prevent Lyme disease in your dog. Examine your dog for ticks after each walk. You can take your dog to the vet for a regular examination for ticks. A regular bath with medicated shampoo can prevent this condition. Finally, you can get your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease to make your dog healthy and playful.
- Littman MP, Gerber B, Goldstein RE, Labato MA, Lappin MR, Moore GE. ACVIM consensus update on Lyme borreliosis in dogs and cats. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2018;32(3):887–903. doi:10.1111/jvim.15085
- Little SE, Heise SR, Blagburn BL, Callister SM, Mead PS. Lyme borreliosis in dogs and humans in the USA. Trends in Parasitology. 2010;26(4):213–218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pt.2010.01.006. doi:10.1016/j.pt.2010.01.006