Lyme Disease in Dogs: High Risk Areas in the US

However slight, there is always a possibility that any dog can catch any disease no matter where he lives. However, certain areas do present a higher risk than others depending on the disease-- such is the case with Lyme disease in dogs.

High Risk Areas for Lyme Disease in the US

Lyme disease is prevalent in the northeastern part of the United States, near the Great Lakes, and in northern California. Moderate risk areas include areas along the west coast and the southern states located east of Texas.

About Lyme Disease In Dogs

Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burdorferi. Borrelia burdorferi was first recognized in the United States in 1975 after a mysterious outbreak of rheumatoid arthritis in young children in the town of Lyme, Connecticut. It was discovered that the bacteria was being transmitted from person to person by a tick. Today, Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne illness in the country. Three strains of Borrelia exist, including: Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia afzelii.

Borrelia burdorferi invades the blood and tissues of infected mammals and birds. It is believed that the natural reservoir of Borrelia is the white-footed mouse. Ticks transfer the bacteria to the white-tailed deer, humans, and other warm-blooded animals after feasting on blood from an infected animal.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include arthritis, swelling of the joints, a fever of 102-105, loss of appetite, painful lameness, and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease can also cause ear problems and affect the nervous system and kidneys.

Lyme Disease Treatment Options

The vast majority of dogs with Lyme disease may have a fever and poor appetite. The vet will diagnose the disease based on clinical symptoms, blood tests, and risk of exposure. The disease can be treated with antibiotics. If detected early, dogs will experience relief from symptoms within 24 hours. In advanced cases, it may take several days to several weeks for symptoms to subside.

Lyme Disease Prevention

The single most effective way to prevent Lyme disease to have your dog vaccinated. Vaccines should be administered between 9-12 weeks of age, then repeated three weeks later by your vet. Annual re-vaccination is necessary to prevent infection. Without vaccinations, it can be difficult to keep ticks away from your pet in high-risk areas. However, it is not impossible. Regular grooming to detect infected ticks and prompt removal will help minimize the risk of contracting the disease as well as the use of products that repel or kill ticks. Products that contain permethrin, amitraz or fipronyl are safe for dogs and help prevent ticks.