Lyme disease, is caused by the bacteria: Borrelia burgdorferi. It is an infection spread through the bite of the common tick. Dogs and humans are the most common species affected in the United States.
In humans, a typical infection indicator is a large red “target” or “bulls-eye” shaped rash around the site where the tick has taken its blood meal. In dogs, this sign is usually missed since most dogs have a full body coat of thick fur. This can cause an issue of missed diagnosis and improper treatment of Lyme’s disease.
Some of the symptoms of Lyme’s disease include skin rashes, meningitis, encephalitis, joint swelling and pain, paralysis and rarely death in some cases.
The most commons signs in your dog will likely be lethargy and lameness (limping). In dogs, long-term infection can lead to severe kidney disease and arthritis. Recent studies have shown that Lyme’s disease is highly prevalent in the Bay Area so be aware and take steps to keep yourself and your pets tick free.
The best way to prevent Lyme’s disease is by keeping dogs and people away from ticks. With no tick bites, there is no Lyme’s disease. Unfortunately, this is difficult for a lot of pet owners as the local area is full of amazing wilderness that both humans and dogs love to explore.
There are several types of tick prevention products available through your veterinarian, such as Vectra 3D. We also have access to a Lyme’s disease vaccine that can help fight off any of the B. burdorferi bacteria.
Detection and diagnosis
There are several tests available through your veterinarian that can tell you if your dog has been infected. The most commonly used is known as a 4Dx SNAP test. This test detects the presence of not only the Lyme disease bacteria, but heartworm infection and two other bacteria that are transmitted by ticks (anaplasma phagocytophilum and ehrlichia canis).
It can take a long time to rid the blood and body of lyme disease. Mutiple tests over a long period of time (up to several years) may be needed after treatment.
Hopefully you and your pet will never need to know the treatments for these diseases. The best medicine is always prevention. So if you enjoy the summer outdoors and like to hike with your dog, please be safe and take the proper precautions.