Treating Dogs with Lyme Disease

Lyme disease in dogs is usually caused by a deer tick that passes the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into the dog's bloodstream by attaching itself to the dog. In order for a dog to become infected with a Lyme disease, the tick usually must remain attached to the dog for 48 hours or more. Lyme disease is a relatively new disease phenomenon and is affecting dogs and humans in almost every state in the country. The disease can be transmitted from the dog to humans and can lead to a painful death for the dog-if not quickly diagnosed and treated properly.

Common Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Most symptoms associated with Lyme disease will begin to show themselves within a day or two after infection. Therefore, here's a list of common symptoms associated with the onset of Lyme disease:

  • High fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inflamed or swollen joints
  • Laziness or Lethargy

If you begin to notice that your dog has these symptoms, you should take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Once you have taken your dog to the veterinarian, he will probably make a diagnosis of the problem by:

  • reviewing your dog's recent travel history to try to determine if your dog has been in an endemic area where he could have been exposed to a deer tick;
  • performing a physical exam to look for a typical clinical signs and symptoms;
  • drawing blood from your dog in order to perform a blood test that checks for Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.

Treatments for Dogs with Lyme Disease

There are several different treatment methods that are practiced within the United States for Lyme disease in dogs. Furthermore, depending on the veterinarian that you choose to visit, he may choose to use a single type of therapy or treatment or a combination of treatments. Therefore, here is a list of common treatments for Lyme disease in dogs:

Antimicrobial Therapy- This type of therapy is becoming more and more popular in the United States and involves the process of introducing a different type of bacteria into the bloodstream of your dog to attack the Lyme disease causing bacteria. Generally speaking, the dog's condition should improve within 48 hours or so. However, with larger dogs the recovery period could be a little longer.

Antibiotic Treatments - There are many good antibiotics that can help combat Lyme disease. In fact, many of the antibiotics used for dogs with Lyme disease are the same as the antibiotics used in humans. For example, common antibiotics like doxycycline, cephalexin, amoxicillin and tetracycline are frequently used to treat Lyme disease with much success. These types of antibiotics generally need to be given to the dog orally every 12 to 24 hours and may be given orally or mixed with the dog's food.

You should be aware, however, that antibiotic therapy does not kill or eliminate the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that is responsible for causing Lyme disease, but it does suppress the bacteria so that Lyme disease symptoms can subside. While this alleviates the pain and symptoms and the dog, the bacteria will usually remain latent or dormant in the dogs body for many years thereafter.

Prognosis for Dogs with Lyme Disease

Usually, the prognosis for dogs with Lyme disease is very good, and most dogs make a full recovery. Moreover, dogs that are treated for Lyme disease in the earliest stages of disease generally begin to show improvement in as little as 2 to 3 days. However, it is important to always keep your dog on the treatment regimen for the full term of the prescribed therapy. You should also know that even if a treatment is successful, Lyme disease can recur. If it does recur, the dog needs to be placed back on antibiotics as soon as possible.

As with all types of diseases, prevention is the key to keeping your dog healthy and free from Lyme disease. You should always use an insect repellent on your dog and be sure to groom your dog as often as possible. Furthermore, there are vaccinations for Lyme disease, but there is a lot of controversy over whether or not the vaccination actually protects the dog from the disease or not. Regardless, taking the time to always check your dogs for tick-may save your dog's life.