When To Get Your Dog Tested for Lyme Disease
If you live in an area where Lyme Disease is common you may be concerned not only for yourself and your family but also for your dog. That is a legitimate concern. Dogs do get Lyme disease. When they do they need treatment as soon as possible to get the best outcome. Late treatment is not as effective and can result in years of ongoing pain for your dog.
Since our pets can’t talk to us we often have to read their behavior to make judgements regarding their health. In the excerpt below, there is a good explanation of symptoms you could see in your dog if they have Lyme Disease and how it is commonly treated. If your dog has been bitten by a tick be sure to remove it carefully, immediately and pay a visit to your vet to have them tested.
What are the clinical signs?
Many people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. If this occurs, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage.
Symptoms of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people. The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. Because the other symptoms of the disease may be delayed or go unrecognized and because the symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, Lyme disease in animals is often not considered until other diseases have been eliminated.
Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were “walking on eggshells.”
Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later. Some pets are infected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. By this time, the disease may be widespread throughout the body.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are two blood tests that may be used for confirmation.
The first is an antibody test. This test does not detect the actual spirochete in the blood but does detect the presence of antibodies created by exposure to the organism. A test can be falsely negative if the dog is infected but has not yet formed antibodies, or if it never forms enough antibodies to cause a positive reaction. This may occur in animals with suppressed immune systems. Some dogs that have been infected for long periods of time may no longer have enough antibodies present to be detected by the test. Therefore, a positive test is meaningful, but a negative is not.
– via VCA Animal Hospitals
Treatment and Prevention of Canine Lyme Disease
What happens if tests show your dog has Lyme Disease? How will your vet treat your pet? Perhaps the most important question is how can you prevent your dog from ever getting Lyme Disease? Answers to these questions and more are below to help you.
Canine Lyme disease is a complicated and often confusing disease.
How is canine Lyme disease treated?
The clinical signs of Lyme disease are treated with antibiotics, and often the symptoms will resolve within 3 days of therapy. A tetracycline antibiotic called doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is used to treat Lyme disease. It is often chosen over other potentially effective antibiotics because it is likely to be better at treating additional bacteria that may have co-infected the pet (it is thought in hot-spot Lyme areas that 50% of ticks that are infected with Lyme bacteria are also infected with another worrisome bacteria called Anaplasma phagocicytophilium (formerly called Ehrlichia equi).
Is therapy 100% effective?
Unfortunately, the answer is likely no. Some dogs that are treated with months or even years of doxycycline still show positive antibody levels in the future. Despite treatment, the infection can “hide” out in the body for years and always has the potential to cause future problems. Newer evidence shows, however, that treatment with antibiotics, especially closer to the time of infection, may lower the antibody levels faster than they would fall without treatment. Recent preliminary evidence indicates that lowering the antibody levels may reduce the risk of developing kidney failure in the future.
How do I prevent Lyme infections to my pet?
It takes time for an infected deer tick to transmit Lyme bacteria to a pet. Normally infection will not happen any sooner than 48-72 hours from the beginning of a blood meal. While daily tick removal would theoretically be the best at reducing risk of Lyme disease, this is very impractical in most dogs, especially the furrier breeds, as most stages of the deer tick are so small that we wouldn’t even notice them on our own skin. (If you do find ticks on your pet, it is always advised to use gloves during removal as there is some potential for transmission to you from the tick.)
Application of a tick control product.
Since the highly infective nymph stages of the tick can transmit the disease after only about 5 warm days in the spring and infections can extend through the fall into the winter, we recommend applying a tick prevention product once monthly from March through November.
Vaccination for Lyme disease.
We have a highly effective Lyme vaccine that can be given to pets 9 weeks and older. Although some studies indicate our Lyme vaccine is nearly 100% efficacious, we also recommend using a tick prevention product as outlined above. Used together, we think this is the best way to protect your pet from Lyme infections and disease.
– via www.wagsandwhiskers.com
Have you had your pet vacinated for Lyme Disease?