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Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Do you have any idea that Lyme disease in dogs is indeed possible? A certain degree of risk is always involved when it comes to this illness but your pet can still enjoy all the pleasures of life just fine. As long as they are properly diagnosed, your dog can still be free of the illness. 

Like humans, there are a lot of symptoms that can signal the presence of this disease in dogs. The common manifestation of Lyme disease in dogs is pain and inflammation experienced by the animal. Other symptoms include skin infections, lethargy, loss of appetite, and coordination problems.

Although there is no particular antibiotic medication available for this infection, antibiotics can also be administered for the treatment of other conditions. An oral antibiotic can also be given as a prophylactic therapy for preventing the tick from becoming active and for reducing the odds of your dog being infected by ticks later on in its life. Corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory agent, can also be used for the treatment of these symptoms.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium invades the nervous system of the host animal. Once this occurs, neurological dysfunction occurs and causes

  • muscle and joint stiffness
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness
  • depression
  • cognitive decline.

Lyme disease typically follows other joint problems such as tendonitis, muscle inflammation of the heart. The symptoms do not usually manifest until the second week after contracting the infection.

There are several ways to diagnose whether your dog has been infected with Borrelia burgdorferi: blood test culture and microscopic examination of tissues.

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. Lyme disease is one of the most difficult to treat. It is important to get your pet treatment early before it is too late. Lyme disease has killed thousands of dogs worldwide, and can be devastating to your pet's health and well being if not treated properly.

How Lyme Disease Is Transmitted?

How Lyme Disease Is Transmitted?

The question "How is Lyme disease spread?" is asked most often by people who are bitten by infected ticks but do not have signs or symptoms of the illness.

Lyme disease is transmitted through a tick's bite, which is why it is called " Lyme." Lyme disease is more prevalent in the western US and parts of Canada, where deer are frequently hunted.

Lyme disease can be caused by several different species of ticks, including black-legged ticks and deer tick, but it is primarily transmitted to humans by the black-legged tick, which is easier to transmit because of its small size. The name "Lyme" comes from a town in Connecticut called "Lyme Disease," where a local epidemic of lyme disease occurred in 1975.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burg Dorferi transmitted by the bite of a black-legged tick contaminated with the bacteria. Avoiding direct contact with the tick is the goal in conjunction with the following steps: Repellents, clothing care, and self-checks:

During seasons when deer are hunted, tick infestations are common. If you are frequently exposed to ticks, you should wear shirts made from 100% cotton that cover the entire body, use a wide-brimmed hat to prevent access to your scalp, and remove all visible ticks after the bite has been cured.

To help prevent transmitting the disease to other people, make sure that any where you may touch or rub your hands is washed thoroughly. Ticks usually live in areas that are damp or dark, making them capable of living in close proximity to humans for several weeks before they are noticed. 

Although antibiotics are available to treat lyme disease, most patients experience recurrence within a few weeks of their initial treatment.

This usually occurs because the body's immune system is not strong enough to fight off the infection. If you are experiencing repeated bites, have a rash, or are experiencing joint pain or swelling, contact your doctor immediately for confirmation that you are infected with Lyme disease. Lyme disease symptoms are usually similar to those of other tick-borne infections, so it is wise to be tested if you think you may have been infected.

Treating Dog Lyme Disease

Treating Dog Lyme Disease

Treating dog Lyme disease is difficult, but definitely not impossible. You will need to visit a licensed veterinarian for treatment. Lyme disease in dogs can cause severe neurological damage and even death if not treated promptly. It is important to understand that ticks are the actual carrier of the infection and they will never leave your dog's side unattended. 

It has been suggested that you give your dog antibiotics in order to treat any signs or symptoms of lyme disease, but these are not usually prescribed for lyme disease. A veterinarian's first recommendation will be to put your dog on an antibiotic before starting any treatment process. If antibiotics are not prescribed for your dog, they may be available by prescription from your veterinarian.

Treating dog Lyme disease, like treating common antibiotic resistant diseases, means that your dog will be hospitalized for a time. Usually this will be a minimum of three days. Once your dog is discharged home, the doctor will ask that your pet remain at their home for seven to ten days depending on the severity of the infection. This period is called an elastosis. It is good to know that the common antibiotic used in humans, tetracycline, is also available by prescription for treating dog lyme disease, but this is more often prescribed for more severe cases.

The antibiotics will be administered intravenously via a catheter inserted into the blood stream. Your veterinarian may choose to mix one dose with a teaspoonful of salt or other hygienic preference. Treating dog Lyme disease will require that the antibiotic be taken consistently over a period of time. If your pet has only mild symptoms, your dog may run a full course of treatment and be released from the hospital within one to two days. However, if your pet has moderate to severe kidney failure or arthritis, your dog will be treated as an outpatient until their condition has stabilized.

During the course of treatment for dog Lyme disease, your dog's doctor will want to perform a Lyme test. This is done by taking a sample of the bacteria from your dog's bloodstream. The saliva from your pet will test for spirochete DNA which helps determine if the bacteria is a Borrelia burgdorferi or not. A conclusive test results in positive identification and the appropriate antibiotic will be prescribed to kill the infection. 

Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Preventing Lyme disease in dogs is the best way to avoid an expensive series of treatments that could potentially weaken your dog and even cause life-threatening issues. This can be one of the most difficult diseases to contract and has been around for close to 100 years now, so it's easy to assume that there is no cure. However, this simply isn't true and Lyme disease is much more common than many people realize. There are some common symptoms, but they also vary depending on where your dog has been and what type of environment he's found himself in. Here are some ways to prevent your dog from contracting this terrible illness.

Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs begins with recognizing the symptoms. The first two common ones include joint stiffness, extreme fever, and swelling. If you notice any of these, it's important to head to the vet immediately. Lyme disease thrives in tick habitat, so keeping your pet free of ticks for at least four weeks is essential.

After checking for the initial signs of the disease, your veterinarian will do a blood test and culture to make sure your pet isn't suffering from another infection or just very sensitive to the Lyme bacteria. If it is determined that your pet has Lyme, you will then need to decide how to treat it. Depending on the severity of symptoms, you might be given medications to help lessen the pain, but you'll also have to undergo some form of antibiotic treatment to help rid the body of the disease. These antibiotics will kill any of the bacteria that has taken up residence in your pet's joints and tissues. Unfortunately, this antibiotic medication isn't always effective and gives your dog a weak immune system to fight off future cases of the illness. 

To prevent the disease from causing long term damage to your dog's joints, you'll also need to take him in for a check-up with his veterinarian regularly. Lyme disease doesn't usually cause severe cases of arthritis or joint inflammation. Most cases only cause redness and swelling of the joints, with less risk to the kidneys. Your veterinarian will ask to do a blood test to see if antibodies to the bacteria are present in your pet's blood. If there is, he will likely prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

If there is a positive result from the blood test, your veterinarian will likely prescribe doxycycline to start treatment. Since doxycycline can cause kidney disease, it is usually given intravenously over four to six weeks. This medication should be given according to the dosage instructions on the bottle.

Some dogs can be exposed to multiple kinds of infected ticks, so it is important that you know where they have been and what the symptoms have been so that you can be more prepared to treat them. Lyme disease occurs most often in very young adult dogs and can be transmitted to humans who come in contact with infected ticks. This usually occurs in parks and recreation areas where there are many adult dogs walking around loose. Pets can also be bitten by larger canines such as bulldogs, rottweilers, and German shepherds. You can prevent this by installing safety latches on all your pets' collars.


Antibiotics are usually the first course of action for most dogs that have contracted lyme. The medication kill the bacteria causing the infection in dogs. However, prolonged treatment with antibiotics may cause the bacterial infection to spread to other parts of the body and may result in more complications. 

Your vet may also recommend a steroids as a treatment regimen for lyme disease in dogs. There are two types of steroids available for treating the infection. Corticosteroids and antimycotics. The steroids available for dogs are usually taken orally. However, if your dog suffers from swelling or severe pain, it is best to apply it topically through a cream or ointment.

The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms in your dog. Usually, this duration will last from two to six weeks. During this period, you should monitor the health of your dog carefully. If there is any sign of improvement, continue with the treatment. However, if your dog shows signs of worsening conditions, contact your vet immediately for advice and follow-up.


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