Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. In today's post, our Seattle vets share information about Lyme disease in dogs: what it is, symptoms to watch for, and the treatment options that are available.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by deer ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease. Ticks become infected with this problematic bacteria when they feed on infected animals such as deer, birds and mice. In turn, this infection is passed to our pets when the infected tick bites them.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs can include anything from general discomfort to malaise or depression, lack of appetite, or even lameness due to painful inflamed joints. Some of our four-legged friends with Lyme disease may also experience fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
If your pup is showing symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your vet to schedule an examination for your dog.
During the appointment, your vet will ask a number of questions to gain a detailed understanding of your pet's medical history, then complete a battery of tests which may include urine analysis, fecal exam, x-rays and blood tests. Fluid may also be drawn from your pet's affected joints, then analyzed for signs of Lyme disease.
What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?
When diagnosed with Lyme disease, pets are usually treated on an outpatient basis. Treatment for Lyme disease in dogs will typically involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease is causing your dog pain or discomfort.
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
At Northgate Veterinary Clinic our vets believe that preventing a disease is far better than treatment. To minimize your dog's risk of contracting Lyme disease, avoid walking your dog in places where ticks can thrive such as fields with long grass, areas of scrubland, and wooded area. Sprays, monthly products and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Your veterinarian may recommend that your dog be vaccinated against Lyme if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common.
Check your dog regularly for ticks, and promptly remove any ticks you find in order to help prevent Lyme and other diseases spreading. Though dogs will not directly infect people, they could carry infected ticks into the house, which may then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.