How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Lyme Disease?

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lyme disease

While there are many diseases humans can get that dogs can’t get (and vice versa), Lyme disease is not one of them. Ticks pose as much a risk to our pets as they do to us. Luckily, our dogs at least can benefit from flea and tick preventative care. But what if your dog isn’t treated by this medicine, or it wasn’t applied correctly? A dog’s body is a playground for ticks, which take advantage of all that hair to cling onto. While you may not roll in the ground all that often, your dog likely does, making him extremely vulnerable to ticks. Although not every tick bite means Lyme disease, it does increase the risk. How can you tell if your dog has Lyme disease? Check out the list below:

  • Lameness: Dogs that suffer from Lyme disease often suffer from recurrent lameness of limbs. This is due to an inflammation of the joints. Other dogs can suffer from acute lameness for a few days in one leg. It’ll then go away, only to return (either to the same leg or to another leg – known as shifting-leg lameness).

  • Stiff walk: Your dog’s body is uncomfortable if he has Lyme disease, so he may walk about with an arched back and a stiff gait.

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lower energy levels: This can be directly related to an overall depression demonstrated by your dog

  • Sensitive to your touch

 

There are some more serious symptoms of Lyme disease as well, including kidney problems, which, when left untreated, can lead to glomerulonephritis, which will essentially lead to total kidney failure. Typically, however, kidney failure is a rare side effect.

What happens if I think my dog has Lyme disease?

If you think your dog has Lyme disease (because of these symptoms or because you saw a tick/tick bite on him) then you want to take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Your vet will do some blood work, as well as a urinalysis, and potentially will draw fluid from any affected joints. The presence of bacteria, parasites and fungi in the bloodstream will help your vet come to a conclusion.

If your dog is affected, don’t fret. Unless the symptoms are severe, treatment doesn’t need to involve extensive stays at an animal hospital. You’ll provide your dog with antibiotics subscribed by your vet, and keep your dog warm, dry, and calm for a period of a month as the antibiotics work through the body. Eventually the bacteria will work its way out of the body.

However, just because the bacteria are gone does not mean that the symptoms will subside. For some dogs, the symptoms (namely long-term joint pain) will always exist, but these dogs can still leave full and happy lives.

Prevention

As mentioned before, the use of monthly flea and tick medicine (all year round) is a great way to prevent ticks from even biting your dog. You can also keep your dog away from tick-infested areas, and groom your pet daily. Lastly, you may want to talk to your dog about giving you’re a Lyme vaccination, particularly if your dog is in the woods often.