Many of us have heard about Lyme Disease in terms of being fearful of catching it from the bite of a tick. This happens to be a sickness that dogs can also contract from tick bites and they will have some of the same symptoms that humans do, and it may impact them in different ways. Let’s explore some facts about Lyme Disease in dogs. For additional information, don’t forget to check out Tindog for all of your dog-related questions.

A tick on skin

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a multi-systemic illness. In other words, it affects many different organs at the same time.

For humans, the symptoms are flu-like and can include:

  •     Fever
  •     Headache
  •     Extreme Fatigue
  •     Rashes (Only found in 50% of patients)
  •     Red Ear Lobes
  •     Jaw Pain
  •     Neck & Back Pain
  •     Joint Pain & Swelling, Bone Pain

You may find that the symptoms dogs feel and experience are similar, yet they can’t tell us how they feel. We have to take our queues from their behavior. Common symptoms for dogs with Lyme Disease include: 

  •     Fever
  •     Loss of appetite
  •     Reduced energy
  •     Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  •     Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain
  •     Swelling of joints
  •     Stiff walk with an arched back.
  •     Sensitivity to touch.
  •     Difficulty breathing.
  •     Lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen.
  •     Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare.
  •     Nervous system complications (rare)

As you can see, you might need to be more of a sleuth when it comes to the symptoms of your dog. Also, it should be pointed out that if left untreated, these symptoms can lead to kidney failure in dogs. This is a truly horrible way to lose your best pal, so be vigilant. Know what his normal appetite is, be cautious of any limping that is unexplained, and check them regularly for ticks, even if they are on preventions.

To make a determination of Lyme Disease for your dog, a veterinarian will perform two blood tests. These are the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. These check for antibodies that are present when Lyme Disease is present in the body.

Can Lyme Disease Be Treated?

Lyme Disease is not a death sentence if it is caught and treated in time. Treatment typically consists of a 30-day regimen of antibiotics. In the majority of cases, this is enough to beat the illness but some dogs may need longer treatment, depending on the extent of the disease.

Your veterinarian may also wish to prescribe other medications to help with persistent joint aches and fatigue while your pet’s body is fighting the illness. In general, it takes one to two months for your pet to recover from Lyme Disease.

If your pet is not the only one in your household, it’s safe to say that your other pets may have been exposed as well. You should have them all tested to make sure that you are treating them if they are infected as well. Remember that the sooner you treat Lyme Disease, the better the recovery.

A tick on a plant

The Best Way to Prevent Lyme Disease

Keep your pet protected from ticks. Use veterinarian-recommended tick products that deter ticks and fleas and kill them when they bite. You should also check your dogs regularly for ticks. 

The sooner you pull off a tick, the less likely that your dog will become gravely ill. The longer the saliva of the tick is introduced to the dog, the more likely Lyme Disease is contracted, also, the more likely that secondary issues will result.

When you treat your yard, with products made to control ticks, and treat your pet as well, the odds are in your favor of never having to deal with Lyme Disease. It is still possible that a tick will make it through all of your barries, however. It’s important that you perform regular tick checks and have a tool handy for removing them as quickly as possible.

Vaccination for Lyme Disease

There is now a Lyme Disease vaccination available for your dog and if you live in an area where ticks are especially problematic, it might be highly recommended by your veterinarian.

The vaccine helps to prevent the disease, which is bacterially transmitted by the saliva of the deer tick. If you live near woods and tall grasses, you’re in their habitat and should consider the vaccination. It’s simply one more way in which you can prevent issues for your dog and keep them healthy.

Some dogs may have a sensitivity to the vaccine. Swelling at injection site or hives may happen. Please, speak with your veterinarian about the potential side effects and weigh your options appropriately for your pet.

There are differing points of view on the efficacy of the vaccine and whether it is necessary or even wise for dogs. This is a decision best made by you for your pet. It’s always wise to ask questions and seek more information on anything new and we suggest that you do the same. 

Is It Always Fatal?

The short answer to this question is no. Usually, the dogs that don’t die from kidney failure will be left with severe arthritis that will leave them sore and somewhat lame for the rest of their lives.

Lyme Disease that is treated as soon as possible will often have little to no effect that is lasting for your dog. This is why it is important that you seek help in the event that you know they’ve been bitten and start to show any symptoms from the list above. Remember that your dog cannot speak so you must be his voice.

Taking the appropriate action can be the difference between living or dying, and in some cases whether he lives out his life in pain or not. Always use your flea and tick prevention and if you’ve got any questions at all, speak to your regular veterinarian for advice.