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Dog Lyme Disease

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Lyme disease is an infectious disease that can be passed on by ticks. These ticks are the main carriers of a bacterium, B. burgdoferi, that can infect and harm dogs.


History of the Disease

Lyme disease was first diagnosed in 1975, but it is thought to have existed throughout wildlife for many years before that. Since then, Lyme disease has become more prevalent. There was a lot of deforestation when the early settlers came, so, before 1900, the deer and tick population were greatly decreased. And, with conservation and reforestation, the deer, ticks, and their associated disease came back as well.

Lyme disease in dogs and humans has also become more prevalent due to rising awareness of the disease. With more people knowing about the disease, there have been more reported cases of it.

Lyme disease affects dogs all over the nation, but some researchers believe that the disease spreads from areas where Lyme disease is consistently present in humans and other animals. Areas that have higher populations of humans and dogs are more likely to be exposed to Lyme disease.

Disease Transmission

Lyme disease is transmitted from the bite of an infected tick. For a dog to become infected, the tick must be attached to a dog for approximately 48 hours. If a tick falls off, detaches, or dies before then, the bacteria will not be transmitted. Even then, only about 10% of dogs that are bitten by the parasite will actually contract Lyme disease.

The disease can only be transmitted from the infected tick, so an infected dog does not pose any type of threat to others directly. But, if a tick doesn't get a full meal and it is detached, it will seek another host that it can possibly infect.

Signs and Symptoms

Dogs that have contracted Lyme disease do exhibit some symptoms, but they are very different from the symptoms of humans. Usually, clinical symptoms from Lyme disease in dogs occur between 2 to 5 months after the tick bite. The most common symptoms found in dogs include: lameness, lethargy, loss of appetite, swelling of the joints, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Other symptoms of Lyme disease, such as Dog Kidney Disease, have been observed, but this is very rare.

Lyme Disease rash in a 'bulls-eye' shape.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a dog is suspected to have Lyme disease, it needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible. A simple blood test done by a veterinarian will show if the dog has been infected. A dog may test positive for being exposed to the bacteria. But, as stated before, not every dog will become infected.

Once a dog is diagnosed, treatment must start as soon as possible. The most common way to treat Lyme disease in dogs is through the use of antibiotics. These antibiotics should be used for a minimum of two weeks. But, most veterinarians strongly suggest use of the antibiotics for at least 30 days. This is because the dog may not be fully rid of the bacteria even though they aren't showing any symptoms. If a dog is taken off of the antibiotics before the bacterium is gone, the disease could relapse.

Lyme disease is a disease that can be harmful to all dogs, but it can be prevented quite easily. Regular visits to a vet, along with routine vaccinations are the best way to prevent Lyme disease, even if the dog is bit by ticks. To protect the dog from ticks altogether, tick control/insecticide can be the best way to prevent Lyme disease.
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