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Lyme Disease in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

Katelyn Son

By

Medically reviewed by

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Not many people are familiar with Lyme disease, and the harm that it can cause. For many pet owners, it is not something they worry about, because only five percent of the dogs suffer from the terrible disease. In most occurrences, the dog is diagnosed positive for the antibodies.

If your canine friend displays signs of Lyme disease then you should have them checked. The most common sign for a pet owner is to see their pet limp. Once your pet starts limping without any physical damage, this may be an indication of Lyme disease.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease in Dogs

The name Lyme comes from Old Lyme, Connecticut. A city where this disease was first reported and described by the medical community.  The disease itself has been around for much longer, but most people could not specify it. The prevalence of this illness in humans and dogs continued to increase every year. Since there is no vaccine yet, there is no ultimate cure for this condition. 

This is because the symptoms of this disease are rather inconsistent and the organism that causes it is entirely difficult to detect. Solving the Lyme disease history was like putting the missing pieces of the puzzle together to find some type of correlation. 

Today, we have a better understanding of this condition. Doctors know that the cause of Lyme disease comes from bacteria. The name of this bacterium is “Borrelia” in scientific terminology from the Borrelia genus of bacteria

The more graceful name of this disease is Lyme Borreliosis. The species, “Borrelia Burgdorferi” has been the culprit for Lyme disease in the past. However, as time progressed, experts found other species that cause the disease apart from the “Borrelia Burgdorferi”

In a much broader sense, you can refer to the rest of the diseases as, “Borrelia Burgdorferi”.  This bacterium thrives in the northern hemisphere, and on moderate climate. Furthermore, the only natural way this bacteria enters your bloodstream is by ticks

Lyme Nephropathy

Another name for Lyme disease is Lyme Nephropathy and is usually fatal for a dog since it affects the dog’s kidneys. To be certain, you cannot tell whether the kidney disease symptom has a close relation to Lyme since experts have conducted enough experiments to reproduce the effects.

The exact process and mechanism by which Lyme damages the kidneys and causes kidney failure do not have a complete understanding within the scientific community. Some people claim that this kidney damage is not a result of the disease, instead, it is also a faulty immunity  response of the dog. 

Moreover, some people believe that Lyme disease is also responsible for cardiac-related conditions in dogs.  Lyme disease will also lead to damage to the dog’s lymph nodes, muscles, eyes, kidneys, brain, and heart. Thus, Lyme disease can also be a result of kidney failure.

Fortunately, these diseases are very rare in dogs. When you talk about symptoms, you have to consider that Lyme disease symptoms can take months and years to develop after infection. Once you start noticing the signs of infections in dogs, you will begin to experience them face a range of different symptoms.

What is a Tick?

  • tick is a parasite that is 3 to 5 mm in size. They are so small that it can be hard to spot them immediately.
  • They are the most common trouble for pets, especially the ones that roam outside more often.
  • They feed on animals’ blood. Often time they go unnoticed because of their small size and painless bites.  
  • There are also different types of ticks. A deer tick is a common kind in the United States. 

How to Prevent Dogs from Having Ticks

Prevent dogs from ticks

While it is healthy to bring your dog out often to play, keeping them indoors most of the time is still the best way to avoid ticks. After a fun walk outside, thoroughly check them for any signs of ticks or itching as the longer a tick stays attached to your dog, the higher risk of developing a disease.

Ticks attach to grass, shrubs, etc. and latch on to nearby animals so it would be best to maintain a clean environment to avoid harboring ticks.

Other Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Dogs are more resilient against Lyme disease than other animals. According to an experimental study, only a few percentage of pet dogs that test positive for this disease develop symptoms.

Dog Lyme disease can also result in intermittent arthritis, similar to humans, and rarely results in a kidney infection. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain in Joints and leg 
  • Signs of rash in areas such as the leg or the limb 
  • Signs of fever and illness
  • Joint pain or 
  • Leg discomfort 

All of these symptoms are indicative of a tick bite.

Lameness 

One of the biggest symptoms includes lameness. Lameness results in the abnormal movement of the animal.  According to a veterinarian, lameness is most commonly present in horses. 

It is the neurological dysfunction of the pet, due to infection, that you can also call  a nervous system disease.  If your dog is walking awkwardly and has a disproportionate stance, this is a sign of lameness and possible Lyme infection.

Your dog will also likely develop a high temperature, due to a fever and a loss in appetite which will lead to  weight loss. If any of these signs of illness are evident in your dog, then you must consult a veterinarian. 

Diagnosing and Treating your Dog

Diagnosing a dog with Lyme disease

Diagnosing your dog for Lyme disease requires the veterinarian to run an antibody test. This test takes a closer look at the body’s immunity. The response of the immune system is measurable by the test. 

The experts can see whether the antibody for Lyme disease is present for making a correct diagnosis. This will show that the dog’s body has been fighting the disease. If the blood reports show a high volume of antibodies then your veterinarian can make a diagnosis. Once the experts confirm the presence of the infection, they will then start the treatment.

Fortunately, the treatment of Lyme disease is straightforward and includes taking antibiotics and painkillers. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available. Scientists continue to work on developing a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease. 

Using CBD Oil in your Dog’s Treatment Plan  

There is anecdotal evidence that suggest CBD is a holistic solution that can improve your dog’s overall mood and increase their appetite. The increase in appetite is important because Lyme disease in dogs can reduce their appetite. Although CBD oil is not a treatment for Lyme disease in dogs, it can help stimulate appetite and can help mitigate any pain or discomfort your dog may be feeling. If your dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease you should speak with your trusted veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan that suits your dog. 

Our Final Thoughts  

Lyme disease in dogs is a dreadful illness that causes plenty of suffering for the dog. Thankfully, modern medicine and holistic treatments are advancing to make the lives of our pets better. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does lameness last in dogs?

It will last as long as the inflammation stays in their system. 

Can a tick make your dog limp?

Yes, a tick that is host to the infectious bacteria will possible disrupt the furry companions normal walking stance.