Lyme disease is a condition which can cause a broad range of problems in your dog. If left untreated, lyme disease in dogs can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, or joints. Most cases of lyme disease occur in the Northeast. However, it can occur in practically any part of the United States.
It was first diagnosed in dogs in 1975 in parts of Connecticut but there is now evidence that lyme disease existed for many years in wildlife. Lyme disease can occur in cats but is very rare.
What causes Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is transmitted to a dog via the bite of a tick which is carrying the bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium is not transferred immediately, since the tick has to stay attached for one or two days to your dog.
What are the symptoms?
There is a range of symptoms your dog can develop, once infected with this disease. Most dogs develop a barely noticeable limp in one of the forelegs. As the disease progresses, this limp becomes more and more noticeable. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, fever higher than 103 degrees and swollen lymph nodes.
The first step in diagnosing your dog with lyme disease is done through a blood test to detect the presence of the bacterium, borrelia burgdorferi.
What treatments are available?
Since lyme disease can cause permanent damage to your dog’s nerves and joints, it is imperative to seek treatment as soon as possible. Depending on the level and severity of the condition, your dog will be treated with the use of antibiotics for at least a few weeks. Aspirin may be administered to dogs who have a lot of joint pain.
What is the Prognosis?
After treatment is administered, most dogs will start feeling much better after a few days. However, lyme disease can re-occur within weeks or months so it’s important to watch your dog closely.