The most frequent tick-borne disease in the United States is Lyme disease. It can cause arthritis, renal illness, nervous system issues, and heart difficulties in dogs, people, and other animals. To avoid long-term problems, prompt treatment is critical. Fortunately, there are techniques to keep pets safe from Lyme disease.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. While the tick is eating, bacteria enter the animal's body and move through the tissue to the joint, producing acute arthritis. The bacterium might harm the animal's kidneys, neurological system, or heart if it is not treated.
Lyme disease is named after the Connecticut town of Lyme, where it was originally discovered in 1975. Lyme disease has since been documented in every state in the United States, as well as many other regions of the world. It is most frequent in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast areas of the United States.
Lyme disease is more typically diagnosed in children and elderly persons. Lyme disease is common in dogs, horses, and cattle among domestic animals. Lyme disease may affect cats, although it is unusual.
Signs of Lyme Disease in Dogs
The signs of Lyme disease vary from case to case. No signs may be seen, especially at first. When signs do appear, they may be vague and can easily be mistaken for another health problem.
Fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes, and painful or swollen joints that cause lameness are the most typical indicators of Lyme disease in dogs. The lameness may come and go, and it may affect various limbs. Because of joint discomfort, some dogs will be hesitant to move.
Lyme disease will impact the kidneys if not treated, causing vomiting, increased thirst and urine, and a lack of appetite. Kidney failure in dogs can make them very unwell and they may not respond to therapy.
Nervous system disorders are more frequent in humans, but they may also affect dogs, including facial paralysis and seizures. Secondary heart disease is uncommon, although it can induce breathing problems and collapse.
Lyme disease symptoms in dogs differ significantly from those in people. A Lyme disease infection can cause significant and possibly long-lasting symptoms in people. Only approximately 10% of dogs infected with B. burgdorferi may experience symptoms that necessitate treatment.
Cause of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease, which is spread through tick bites. When a tick feeds on infected mice or other small animals, it becomes infected with the bacterium. When the tick bites another animal, the bacteria is transferred. An attached tick takes one to two days to spread germs to the host. To avoid the transmission of Lyme disease, ticks must be removed as soon as possible.
Lyme disease is spread by four different insect species, but the black-legged tick, often known as the deer tick, is the most common ( Ixodes scapularis ). This little tick prefers tall grasses, shrubs, and forested environments. When a tick detects a host, it climbs on it and attaches its mouthparts to begin a blood feast. Ticks are most active in the spring and fall, but they can be found throughout the year.
Lyme disease cannot be transferred directly between animals or people; it must be spread through a tick bite. Ticks, on the other hand, can enter the home on pets and leap onto humans or other pets.
Lyme disease in dogs is diagnosed using a combination of clinical indicators, history, and test data. Although there is no particular test for Lyme disease, assays to assess B. burgdorferi antigens in the blood are available. Antigens show that the dog was exposed to the bacterium at some point, but they do not necessarily suggest that the dog has Lyme disease.
The veterinarian will most likely do a battery of tests to rule out other health issues and see if the bacterium has impacted the kidneys or other organs and systems. This might involve blood and urine testing, X-rays, and joint fluid collection and analysis.
Antibiotics are usually given to dogs with Lyme disease for several weeks. The majority of dogs' problems resolve quickly after taking antibiotics. Treatment may not entirely eradicate the germs, but it can result in the absence of symptoms.
Dogs with kidney disease will require a longer course of antibiotics along with additional medications and treatments to manage the kidney disease.
Dogs with nervous system or heart problems may need to be referred to a veterinary specialist for advanced diagnostics and treatments.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections can be prevented by controlling ticks. Ticks should be checked for on a daily basis and removed as soon as possible. This is especially critical during tick season (spring and autumn) and after your dog has spent time in pest-infested regions. Keep your yard's grass and bushes trimmed so ticks have fewer hiding spots. If you live in a region where ticks are common, you should treat your yard for ticks.
Tick repellents are effective in preventing ticks from attaching to pets. Tick-killing chemicals are used in several flea-control treatments. Ask your veterinarian about the best tick management alternatives for your dog, and be sure to use these products according to your vet's instructions.
If you reside in an area where Lyme disease is frequent, your veterinarian may suggest a Lyme disease immunization. Because few dogs develop signs of Lyme disease, and those that do tend to react well to treatment, many veterinary professionals do not suggest regular immunization. Tick preventatives cannot be replaced by vaccination.
Vaccination is only successful in dogs that have never been exposed to B. burgdorferi. Vaccination before exposure, on the other hand, can assist dogs from contracting Lyme disease and becoming carriers of the bacterium (spreading it to ticks that can then transmit it to other animals).
Vaccinations are usually given to dogs at the age of 12 weeks, with a booster two to four weeks later. Re-vaccination is required every year to maintain immunity. Each year, the vaccination should be given before to tick season.