Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. Today, our Huntersville vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment of Lyme disease in dogs, and what you should do if you suspect that your pooch has Lyme.
Where are ticks carrying Lyme Disease found?
In dogs, Lyme disease has been diagnosed across all states, however infection rates vary. The highest numbers of Lyme disease in dogs are reported in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and the Pacific coast.
Ticks are most often found in areas with long grass, shrubs, farm fields, or wooded areas. These parasites can't fly or jump. Instead, they find their prey by resting on the tips of grasses, shrubs, and leaves with their first legs outstretched waiting for direct contact with animals or people. As your dog brushes past, the tick latches on.
Whenever your dog has been walking through areas where ticks may be lurking, it is a good idea to check for ticks once you get home. Removing ticks isn't as straight forward as you might think. If you spot a tick on your pooch contact your vet for instructions on how to safely remove the tick from your dog's skin.
We also recommend checking your own skin for ticks. Lyme disease is much more severe in humans than it is in dogs! Contact your doctor for advice on removing ticks if you discover that a tick has latched on to your skin.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?
Often dogs are able to carry Lyme disease without showing symptoms, however the most common signs of Lyme disease in dogs are:
- 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 showing signs of Lyme disease, contact your vet to book an examination. Left untreated, in dogs the symptoms of Lyme disease can progress to kidney failure and even be fatal in severe cases. Serious cardiac and neurological effects may also result from an untreated Lyme disease infection.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed in dogs?
If your vet suspects that your dog may have Lyme disease, they will review a full medical history of your dog health, then perform a number of tests which may include, blood tests (C6 Test and Quant C6 tests), urine analysis, x-rays and a fecal exam. Your vet may also draw fluid from your dog's affected joints to be analysed.
How is Lyme disease treated in dogs?
Dogs that are diagnosed with Lyme disease will typically be treated with a course of antibiotics lasting for 4 weeks or longer. If your pup seems to be especially sore your vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help ease their joint pain.
Is Lyme disease preventable?
To help prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease, keep your pet on a tick prevention medication year round, and speak to your vet about vaccinating your dog against Lyme. Also avoid walking through long grass or brushing against shrubs while on walks, and check your dog daily for ticks.