Diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease in Dogs

The chronic lyme disease in dogs occurs as a result of a tick bite. A tick bite can transmit a number of diseases, but most commonly, the dog gets infected with the lyme disease. The lyme disease is a result of an infection with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The diagnosis of the chronic lyme disease in dogs can be done judging by the symptoms of the dog and by running a few tests.

Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms

The chronic lyme disease can occur only if the dog gets bitten by a tick that carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and the tick is attached to the dog’s skin for at least 4 to 6 hours, the time needed for the tick to transfer the bacteria into the dog’s body and the bacteria to enter the blood stream.

The symptoms of the lyme disease won’t appear immediately after the time. In some cases, it may take up to 3 months for symptoms to occur. Consequently, you may not suspect that the dog is ill until you see a few symptoms such as:

  • Elevated fever
  • Lameness affecting the limbs, but may come and go
  • Limping due to lameness, but not all limbs may be affected
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes all over the body
  • Joint pain and swelling (often, the dog will be suspected to have arthritis due to these symptoms)
  • Swelling of muscles and muscle aches
  • General state of weakness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to sun or artificial light

These symptoms don’t necessarily point to chronic lyme disease and may often be mistaken for arthritis or a different type of infection, so additional tests should be performed to detect the problem.

Examination and Tests

The vet will examine the pet that displays symptoms that point to chronic lyme disease and will also ask you if the pet has been exposed to areas where ticks may be present (i.e. bushy areas). Remember that the infestation may have happened a few months ago, so let the vet know if the pet has been exposed to tick areas.

The blood tests will reveal if there are any antibodies that are produced when the Borrelia burgdorferi are present in the dog’s blood. However, the blood test can show a false positive, especially if the dog has been vaccinated recently. The lyme disease vaccine contains the antibodies that are also secreted when the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria are present in the blood stream. For this reason, an additional blood test will be needed: the C6 antibody test, which can differentiate between antibodies produced by the dog’s body as a result of an infestation with bacteria or the antibodies are present due to a vaccination.

Treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease

The chronic lyme disease should be treated with a cure of antibiotics, which may be 2 to 4 weeks.

Pain killers for the muscle and joint pain are also needed.