With cases occurring in all states, Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted by the tiny deer tick. Hard to spot, it inflicts a bite that causes fever, usually lack of energy, followed by joint pain. Pain can become so severe dogs are unable to walk within three days. Antibiotics can cure Lyme if caught early and avoid long-term complications. The majority of dogs respond to treatment within a few days to a week.
If a tick is removed from the dog soon enough, the dog will not become ill. The tick must remain attached to the host for at least 48 hours for the bacteria to be transmitted. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria is carried to several parts of the dog's body. A dog may not exhibit symptoms of Lyme disease until weeks or even months after contracting the disease.
Although ticks attack humans, dogs are their favorite host. Besides being painful, ticks carry many diseases threatening a dog's health. Ticks are parasites that suck blood from their hosts. Without warning, a tick can latch onto any part of a dog's body. The common dog tick varies from quite small, less than a fraction of an inch, although visible, to extremely large. When engorged, they're like a big grayish-green blob. Ticks are flat, shaped as teardrops in a two-part body inside a dark-brown leathery skeleton. The head is the tip of the teardrop, consisting of simple eyes and a mouth. Ticks attach their heads to the skin of a dog to suck out blood. The rest of the tick's body is expandable and contains the internal organs. When examining your dog for ticks, check all parts of its body, including around the eyes and inside its ears. By removing a tick within 24 hours of infestation, you can reduce the chances of disease.
Although the signs of canine Lyme disease may vary, high fever ranging between 103 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit is usually one of the characteristic symptoms. It should be noted that some dogs may have a mild fever or none at all, yet still suffer from the disease, so a fever is not the only indicator of illness.
Infected dogs are often lethargic and may exhibit signs of lameness. The main symptoms of Lyme disease include swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints, painful legs, loss of appetite and depression. The dog may experience a loss of appetite and may refuse to eat at all. A dog that is not eating or drinking may become dehydrated, which only adds to the existing health problems.
An infected dog usually experiences swelling in the joints and possibly swollen lymph nodes. Dogs do not typically get the characteristic rash associated with Lyme disease in humans. The absence of a rash should not be used as an indicator to whether the dog could be infected with Lyme disease. The symptoms of Lyme disease differ in humans and canines.
A test known as 4DX SNAP is very accurate in detecting Lyme disease in dogs. The disease is fairly easy to treat when detected early. The dog is treated with a penicillin based antibiotic. The antibiotic is given for a minimum of two weeks, but usually for one month.
Although it is uncommon, a dog may develop kidney disease which could be fatal, following Lyme disease infection. It is also possible for a dog to develop heart or nervous system problems. Dogs that have been previously disease can become infected again. The best course of prevention is to have your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. Although some vaccinated dogs can still contract the disease, the vaccine makes infection less likely. Topical treatments such as Vectra 3D or Parastar Plus should also be used in the prevention of canine Lyme disease.