Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that is commonly transmitted to an animal host by a tick (usually the 'Black Legged Tick', Deer Tick, Taiga Tick, and Sheep Tick) that has bitten an infected animal such as a deer or rodent. When one of these ticks bites your dog, the infection enters the bloodstream and spread to body tissues. Without proper treatment, it can cause devastating effects to your dog's health.
Here is what you need to know about Lyme Disease to help protect your dog.
How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted In Dogs?
Ticks love to hide in long grass, bushes, roadsides, and along trails. They aren't picky; therefore, if your dog happens to wander through these areas, they will gladly 'jump aboard' to feast on and consequently infecting your dog with the Lyme Disease. However, it is good to note that an infected tick must be latched onto the host for more than 24 hours for infection to occur.
Dogs living in areas like the Eastern states are at the highest risk of contracting Lyme Disease. These states are
- North Dakota
- New York
- East coast
- Arizona and
Ways to Tell If Your Dog Has Been Bitten
The ears, armpits, and between the toes are some of the most preferred areas that ticks feast on as they're quite warm and make good hiding places. Therefore, the best ways to tell if your dog has been infected is to feel through these spots on your dog’s fur keenly for any small bumps. You can spot anything from the size of a pinhead to the size of grain, depending on the duration the tick has been in contact with your canine.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease In Dogs
According to a research by Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health, Lyme disease symptoms can be severe or moderately acute arthritis. They usually appear within two and six months, but sometimes may extend and show up after a year.
Severe symptoms, although very rare, may include damage to the dog’s brain and nervous system, heart irregularities, and kidney problems. However, it’s common to experience arthritis-like symptoms such as
- Sudden lameness: Mostly affects one of the front legs, but can also affect other legs.
- Loss of appetite: Your dog can be reluctant to eat and as a result loses a significant amount of weight.
- Lethargy: Your dog will have painful joints, making it reluctant to walk, uninterested in playing, drowsiness or slow to respond
- Swollen Lymph nodes: May occur due to reaction to the bacteria in the dog's body
- Fever: Your canine may experience high fever, usually between 103- 105 oF
- Tender or swollen joints: Severe inflammation in the affected leg/s
- Unexplained rash: When your dog is bitten, a rash that resembles a ‘Bullseye’ may develop.
Treatment for Dogs with Lyme Disease
Lyme disease treatment includes administration of Doxycycline, a form of the antibiotic tetracycline, usually for three to four or more weeks. This will resolve the problem, but if symptoms persist, an extended treatment may be required. Other medication can include therapies meant to resolve or relieve specific symptoms.
Preventing Dog Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease, like most diseases, is easier to prevent than it is to treat. So, how do you protect your dog from Lyme disease? The best method is to keep the ticks off your dog! Here are ways to do precisely that
- Tick Control: Tick control is probably the most significant thing an owner can do to prevent Lyme disease in their dog. To do this, always clear tall grasses and brush around your home and at the edge of lawns. You can also use tick repellents, fence, or plant tick-resistant plants.
- Stay Indoors: During peak tick season, it may be best to stay indoors. Get yourself a DoggieLawn for your dog to go potty on. This indoor dog potty is real grass so your dog is naturally attracted to pee on it.
- Always keep your dog clean: Bathing your dog after a walk or hike with a shampoo that contains medicated ingredients will kill ticks on contact and make your dog look nice, healthy, and glossy. For a great experience, ensure you have a dog bathroom for convenience and comfort.
- Inspect your dog's fur after a walk: When on a stroll, keep off tall grass or wooded areas where ticks are likely to be active. When back home, always check through your dog's fur and if you happen to see a tick, remove them right away using your hand or a pair of tweezers.
- Vaccination: If you often take your dog camping or walking in bushy areas, it's important to ask your vet about the best vaccine to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases.
- Infected Pet: If you happen to have an infected dog, keep them in an isolated room and call a vet immediately. This will help prevent infected tick/s from moving to other pets in your home. Besides, ensure high standards of cleanliness and hygiene by having dog potty grass, such as a DoggieLawn in place.
Preventing Lyme Disease in dogs is not an easy task. However, you can use a combination of these preventive methods to reduce the risk of your dog becoming sick. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations on a variety of sprays, collars, and spot-on topical products that kill and repel ticks.