Even though Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world, only 5–10 percent of affected dogs will have symptoms. When a canine does get Lyme disease, one of the most dominant clinical features is inflammation of the joints which causes lameness. Depression and lack of appetite may also be apparent, with more critical scenarios including kidney damage and even heart or nervous system disease.
Transmission of Lyme disease in the United States is more prevalent in places like the upper Midwestern states, the Pacific coastal states and the Atlantic seaboard. Canines such as Bernese Mountain dogs, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and Shetland sheepdogs are more susceptible to Lyme disease. Younger dogs are also more affected than older dogs.
What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?
As previously mentioned, lameness is one of the main signs of Lyme disease in dogs. This problem can be recurring and either in the same leg or in different legs. Additionally, one or more joints may be swollen, warm and painful.
Certain canines can also experience kidney issues which can lead to kidney failure, which is evidenced in a dog experiencing signs such as vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, increased thirst and urination and abnormal fluid buildups.
Additional symptoms include:
• Lack of appetite
• Sensitive to touch
• Stiff walk with arched back
• Difficulty breathing
How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed in Dogs?
A history of your dog’s health will be evaluated, which should include symptoms and possible incidents that might have caused Lyme disease. From there, your vet will perform some tests which include a complete blood cell count, urinalysis, blood chemistry tests, fecal examinations, X-rays and other tests that are specific to Lyme disease.
Arthritis has many causes, and one of the things the vet will do will be to focus on differentiating a case of arthritis caused by Lyme disease versus other inflammatory arthritic disorders including degenerative joint disease or trauma. Another cause of symptoms that will be considered are immune-mediated diseases.
How is Lyme Disease in Dogs Treated?
If Lyme disease is confirmed in your dog, they will then be treated as an outpatient unless they have a stable condition. There are many different kinds of effective antibiotics, however Doxycycline is the most common. Four weeks is the recommended length of treatment, however there may be longer courses in certain cases. If your dog experiences discomfort, an anti-inflammatory may be prescribed.
Antibiotics do not always eliminate infection, and symptoms can resolve but then return at a later date. Kidney disease development in the future is always a possibility.
At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from Lyme disease, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact us at our following locations: