Lyme Disease in Dogs

April 11, 2017
Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is a relatively new disease in the United States. First recognized in dogs in 1985, this tick-borne infectious disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacteria often carried by deer, the primary carrier of the disease.

Where is Lyme disease found?

While Lyme disease has been diagnosed in people from all 50 states, Lyme disease is found in high numbers along the East Coast and Upper Midwest. All of the areas where Lyme disease is present are areas with high human and pet populations, thus increasing the number of people and animals that can be potentially exposed.

How is Lyme disease transmitted?

For a tick to transmit B. burgdorferi, or Lyme Disease, it must be attached to the host for about 48 hours. If a tick is removed before the 48 hour period, transmission of the bacteria will not occur. Consequently, if a tick carrying B. burgdorferi attaches to a dog for more than 48 hours, the dog still may not contract the disease. Studies indicate that only approximately 10% of dogs that are exposed to the bacteria actually contract the disease. There is no evidence that dogs pose a risk to other members of a home. The only risk comes from when an infected tick doesn’t ingest a full meal, detaches from the animal...and then could possibly reattach to a human and cause an infection.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?

Canine symptoms of Lyme disease present differently than symptoms in people. The illness may surface post-bite after 2-5 months in dogs. (Cats rarely develop Lyme disease.) The most common symptoms in dogs may include a fever between 103 and 105 degrees, loss of appetite, joint and lymph node swelling and general fatigue.

How is the disease diagnosed in dogs?

A standard blood test will detect if antibodies are present as a result of an infection of Lyme disease. While some dogs may receive a positive test result and have been previously exposed...their bodies may have fought off the infection on their own. Thus, the combination of a test result in conjunction with other information is critical for a proper diagnosis. This other information includes an understanding of the canine’s history of tick exposure, signs and symptoms typical to the disease, anitibodies against B. burgdorferi, and prompt response to antibiotics.

How is Lyme disease treated?

The vast majority of infected dogs respond quickly and effectively to antibiotic therapy. Pain relievers may offer additional relief when joint and lymph node swelling are present.

What is the best prevention for Lyme disease?

The best prevention for an owner to offer their pet is tick control and vaccination. Ticks carry many other diseases besides Lyme disease, and by preventing the attachment of ticks, we can in-turn prevent all of their diseases.

Animal Clinic of Woodruff now offers Bravecto & Nexgard for tick prevention and control. We also recommend and offer vaccinations against Lyme disease. If you suspect your dog may have been bitten, schedule an appointment with Animal Clinic of Woodruff right away.

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