Diagnosing Canine Lyme Disease

Canine Lyme disease is caused by a parasite called Borrelia burgdorferi. Dogs who contract this disease are subject to a number of illnesses including joint pain, fever and kidney disease. It is important to learn more about Lyme disease and its characteristics to become better able to diagnose canine Lyme disease in your dogs. 

How Canine Lyme Disease Is Passed

Lyme disease is passed to canines by a bite from a deer tick or Western black-legged tick. Though it is commonly said that a tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours for the disease to be passed, immediate removal or disposal of the tick, and careful monitoring for symptoms is strongly advised. 

Symptoms of Canine Lyme Disease

A dog infected with Lyme disease may not experience symptoms for a very long time, if at all. Many dogs host the organism without ever becoming ill, however effects of Lyme disease vary and may take months to become apparent. The most common symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain or arthritis.

Additionally, Lyme disease may cause the immune system to weaken and affect the kidneys leading severe kidney damage. Heart disease and disorders of the nervous systems are also rare, but possible symptoms of canine Lyme disease. 

It is also important to note that unlike humans, dogs do not develop rash or redness around the infected area of a tick bite.

Treatment of Canine Lyme Disease

When symptoms of canine Lyme disease are discovered early, there are several tests that can be administered to determine infection. Basic antibiotic treatment can be used for healing, and is often very effective. Occasionally, antibiotics do not actually rid the dog of the infection, but are successful in clearing up symptoms. If the dog appears to have recurring symptoms, the antibiotic treatment should be repeated as many times as necessary.

Canine Lyme Disease Prevention

It is apparent that the best way to avoid canine Lyme disease infection is through prevention. There are several options available to help prevent the spread and infection of Lyme disease in dogs.

Become aware of the level of risk for Lyme disease in your area, and remain cautious when you or your dog engage in outdoor activities in those areas. Check often for ticks and reduce your risk by wearing tick repellent and treating animals and areas surrounding your home. If a tick is spotted either on yourself or your dog, notice whether or not it is flat or engorged and full of blood. Remember, the tick must have time to spread the bacteria before you or your dog can become infected.