How Do You Know? Top 5 Signs of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Most people shudder at the idea of ticks, but that doesn’t stop us from hiking, camping, picnicking, or working in the yard. Even though these 8-legged pests are sneaky, insidious, and hungry for blood, we still enjoy the great outdoors – and so do our dogs. After all, who hasn’t seen a dog rolling around the grass with utter abandon? Frolicking and exploring are a canine’s birthright, but Lyme disease in dogs remains a serious concern. As such, The Pet Experts of Springbrook Animal Care Center offer the top 5 clinical signs of Lyme disease so you can seek help immediately.
Ouch? Not So Much
Ticks lie in wait for their prey to approach. Using carbon dioxide sensors, they position themselves to maximize attachment. Once on a paw, leg, hip, or neck, ticks dig in for a feast of blood. The bite itself may not trigger a strong reaction from your dog, and clinical signs typically don’t appear for 2-5 months.
However, if a tick falls off after gorging itself, there’s a strong possibility of the head staying lodged beneath the skin. When this happens, inflammation and infection can occur at the site of the bite.
A Look at Lyme
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deposited into the bloodstream by infected ticks, the bacteria travel throughout the body and cause problems in various organs and systems. Generally speaking, Lyme isn’t transferred immediately; it can take 1-2 days, making it imperative to remove ticks as soon as you know your dog has one.
Lyme Disease in Dogs
Ticks are found in heavily wooded areas, marshes, tall grass, weeds, and leaf piles. They can appear at any time of year and aren’t killed by frost.
Unfortunately, due to their prevalence and a dog’s high risk of exposure, Lyme disease in dogs is common. The most common symptoms include:
- Lameness/stiffness/discomfort when moving
- Lack of energy
- Swelling of joints and associated pain
- Loss of appetite
If ignored, these clinical signs can result in kidney failure, cardiac issues, and neurological problems.
What You Can Do
Lyme disease in dogs can be tested with blood work. We also closely examine dogs to ascertain their connected symptoms. Treatment includes antibiotics over the course of several weeks, rest, and other supportive therapies aimed at reducing pain and inflammation.
To prevent Lyme disease in dogs, we recommend the following:
- Maintain year-round parasite prevention medication. The Pet Experts recommend Bravecto, Nexgard, and Revolution (bonus: they also guard against fleas, ticks, heartworm-carrying mosquitoes, various worms, and mites!).
- Always inspect your pet’s body and coat for any signs of ticks following time spent in the woods, yard, or anywhere outdoors.
- Groom your pet every day.
- Keep long grass trimmed around the yard, and remove any elements where ticks would thrive.
- Wear long pants when outside, and always check yourself before entering the home (you may, unwittingly, bring a tick home to your dog).
- Remove a tick promptly (ask us the proper way to do this).
- Have your pet screened for any tick-borne illnesses during their next wellness exam.
- Protect your dog with the Lyme disease vaccination.
The Pet Experts are always here for you and your dog. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about Lyme disease in dogs.