Lyme disease is a common tick-transmitted disease seen in people and pets across the US. While many dogs carry Lyme without showing symptoms, other dogs can suffer from a range of debilitating side effects due to this disease. Our Memphis vets share some of the causes, symptoms, and treatment for Lyme disease in dogs.
Where is my dog likely to encounter ticks carrying Lyme?
Lyme disease in dogs has been diagnosed across all states, however infection rates vary from one state to another. The highest numbers of Lyme disease in dogs are reported in the Upper Midwest, Pacific coast and Northeast regions of the United States.
Dogs contract Lyme disease by being bitten by an infected tick. Ticks of all kinds, including those carrying Lyme are most often found in wooded and grassy areas including farm fields. Ticks don't fly or jump. Instead, they find their prey by resting on the tips of grasses, shrubs, and leaves with their front legs outstretched waiting for direct contact with animals or people. As your dog brushes past, the tick simply grabs hold and latches on.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?
Dogs often carry Lyme disease without showing any symptoms at all. Nonetheless, other dogs can suffer from a range of painful or uncomfortable symptoms. Lyme disease symptoms in dogs can include.
- Lameness due to inflamed joints
- Generalized stiffness
- Sensitivity to touch
- Swollen joints
- General malaise or discomfort
- Lack of appetite and depression
- Difficulty breathing
If your dog is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet to book an examination. Untreated, Lyme disease can progress to kidney failure and can even become life-threatening severe cases. Serious cardiac and neurological effects can result from an untreated Lyme disease infection.
How is Lyme disease in dogs diagnosed?
If your vet believes that your pet could be suffering from Lyme disease they will review a full medical history of your dog health, discuss with you any instances when your dog may have come into contact with ticks, examine your pet's body for ticks, then perform a number of tests which may include, blood tests (C6 Test and Quant C6 tests), urine analysis, fecal exam and x-rays. If painful joints is one of your pup's symptoms, your vet may draw fluid from the affected joints to be analysed.
Can Lyme disease in dogs be treated?
Dogs with Lyme disease are typically treated with a course of antibiotics lasting for four weeks or more. Pets suffering from especially painful joints may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve pain.
Is there a way to prevent Lyme disease in dogs?
One way to help prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease is to keep your pet on a tick prevention medication year round, and speak to your vet about vaccinating your dog against Lyme. It's also a good idea to avoid walking through long grass or brushing against shrubs while on walks, and check your dog daily for ticks.
Any time that your dog has been walking through areas where ticks may be lurking, it is a good idea to check your pet for ticks when you get home. That said, removing ticks isn't as straight forward as you may think. Contact your vet for instruction on how to properly remove ticks from your dog. (Your vet may request that you keep the tick for testing).
Lyme disease is much more severe in humans than it is in dogs! If you walk in areas with long grass or shrubs be sure to check your skin regularly for ticks. Contact your doctor for advice on removing ticks if you find one latched on to your skin.
Is your dog displaying symptoms of Lyme disease? Contact our vets at Stage Road Animal Hospital in Memphis. Our compassionate vets have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in pets.
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