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Lyme Disease in Dogs: Treatment & Cure

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Treatment & Cure

Lyme disease affects both humans and pets in North America. It is transmitted by ticks and often causes long-lasting symptoms like joint pain in people. In this article, our veterinarians in Stockton will talk about the signs and treatment of Lyme disease in dogs.

What Is Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Lyme disease can affect both dogs and humans in the United States, but the infection rates vary from state to state. The regions with the highest number of Lyme disease cases in dogs are the Upper Midwest, Pacific Coast, and northeast areas of the country.

Dogs can get Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected tick. Ticks, including those carrying Lyme disease, are commonly found in grassy and wooded areas like farm fields and forests.

Ticks do not jump or fly, but they wait for their prey by resting on the tips of shrubs, grasses, and leaves. They extend their front legs and wait for direct contact with animals or people. When an animal or person passes by, the tick latches onto their fur or skin.

Lyme disease is not contagious between dogs or humans. However, if an infected tick has been on one dog, it can transfer to another dog or a person, thereby spreading the disease.

Signs of Lyme Disease in Dogs 

Dogs can have Lyme disease without any noticeable symptoms, but some dogs may experience various painful symptoms. If your dog has Lyme disease, they might show one or more of these symptoms.

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Decreased appetite and depression
  • Swollen, inflamed joints
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • High fever
  • General lethargy or discomfort
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness

If you notice your dog suffering from any of the symptoms above, contact your vet to book an examination.

Left untreated, the effects of Lyme disease in dogs can be serious or even life-threatening. The condition may lead to serious heart problems, neurological issues, and kidney failure in dogs.

How Lyme Disease is Diagnosed in Dogs

If your vet believes that your pet could be suffering from Lyme disease they will review a full medical history of your dog's 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 several diagnostic tests which may include, blood tests (C6 Test and Quant C6 tests), urine analysis, fecal exam, and X-rays. If painful joints are one of your pup's symptoms, your vet may draw fluid from the affected joints to be analyzed. 

Treating Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease in dogs is typically treated with a four-week course of an antibiotic called doxycycline. If your dog has painful joints, the vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the pain. In most cases, this treatment resolves the symptoms of Lyme disease. However, in some cases, the infection may persist, requiring prolonged medication.

Your vet will provide specific recommendations for treating Lyme disease in dogs, which may include additional therapies tailored to your dog's symptoms.

Unfortunately, antibiotic treatment is not always completely effective in curing Lyme disease in dogs. Some dogs treated with doxycycline for months may still have positive antibody levels in the future. The infection can hide in the body for years, leading to future health problems. Early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of successful treatment.

Lyme disease can cause serious chronic health problems in dogs, such as kidney, heart, or neurological issues. The most common is irreversible kidney failure called glomerulonephritis, which significantly impacts a pet's quality of life and lifespan.

Preventing 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.

When your dog walks in areas where ticks might be hiding, it's a good idea to check your pet's skin after you get home. Removing ticks quickly is important to lower the risk of disease transmission.

However, removing ticks isn't as simple as it seems. Contact your vet to learn how to remove ticks from your dog properly. Your vet might ask you to keep the tick for testing.

Keep in mind that Lyme disease is more severe in humans than in dogs. Regularly check your skin for ticks if you walk in areas with tall grass or shrubs. If you find a tick attached to your skin, contact your doctor for advice on removal. Lyme disease in humans can cause many painful chronic symptoms.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you looking to protect your dog against ticks and Lyme disease? Contact our Stockton vets to book an appointment.

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