Chronic Lyme Disease Treatments for Dogs

Learn possible Lyme disease treatments for infected dogs. Prevention of ticks is the only way to keep your dog from developing Lyme disease. If your dog contracts the disease, it's important to know what treatments are available.

Understanding how Lyme Disease Is Contracted

Lyme disease occurs when a deer tick bites and remains embedded in your dog's skin for at least 24 to 48 hours. Lyme disease is a bacteria found in small mammals, particularly white-footed mice. When a deer tick larva feeds off an infected mouse, the tick ingests the bacteria. Upon feasting on another mammal, such as a deer or human, the bacteria enter the host's bloodstream. It does take up to 48 hours for the bacteria to enter the host's body.

Even if a dog is bitten by an infected tick, there is a slight chance the bacteria will never infect that dog. Still, the best prevention is to check your dog for ticks when he comes indoors. Use a tick removal tool to remove any ticks before enough time has passed for the Lyme disease bacteria to enter the host.

Symptoms of Advanced Lyme Disease

In the early stages, few dogs show any symptoms. Typically, the symptoms come and go in cycles as the disease progresses and include:

  • Fever

  • Lack of appetite

  • Limping

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Lyme disease treatments in the earliest stages are the most effective course of action. Antibiotics, typically Amoxicillan, are usually given for a full month. If the Lyme disease returns following this round of medications, a second course is ordered.

Symptoms of advanced Lyme disease include:

  • Extreme joint and muscle pain

  • Weakness

By the time a dog is showing obvious signs of pain, Lyme disease has progressed to the advanced stage. Now the disease must be treated more aggressively.

Common Lyme Disease Treatments

Dogs in the mid-stage of Lyme disease receive an antibiotic known as Doxycycline. This antibiotic is given once or twice a day orally. You cannot give Doxycycline to a puppy, however. If the veterinarian thinks the disease may not have quite reached the advanced stage, expect your dog to be given Doxycycline to get started. If the drug has no effect, stronger medications will be used.

Dogs in the advanced stages of Lyme disease are usually given Ceftriaxone. This powerful antibiotic is usually given in the form of an IV because of damage to the cardiac and neurological systems.

For the severe joint and muscle pain, aspirin is recommended by many veterinarians as Lyme disease treatments. The aspirin relieves the pain allowing the dog to heal more quickly. Anti-inflammatory medications are often used with the aspirin to help alleviate any pain caused by swelling.

Some dogs with advanced Lyme disease will never beat the disease entirely. You may need to keep aspirin on hand to relieve frequent joint pain.

Side Effects of Ceftriaxone

If your pet is given Ceftriaxone, watch for the following side effects.

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

In addition to these common side effects, some dogs develop large concentrations of calcium salt in their gallbladders when given a large dose. Muscle pain in the IV or injection site are also known side effects of this Lyme disease treatment.