Lyme Disease in Dogs - How to Prevent Infection
Also known as Lyme borreliosis, Lyme disease is a bacterial disease canines are susceptible to. It is transmitted by a certain species of infected ticks that contain a bacterium called Borrelia burgdoferi.
Once this bacterium is within the bloodstream, it can quickly compromise organ health and ultimately make your pet extremely ill. At Grange Co-op, we recognize pets are more than that, they’re family and they deserve to be taken care of as such. We have a range of tick control products to help prevent this devastating disease from taking hold.
Signs of Lyme Disease in Dogs
It is not uncommon for dogs to contract Lyme disease unbeknownst to the owner’s knowledge. Here are some of the common signs of Lyme disease to look for:
Most dogs who contract Lyme disease subsequently show symptoms of a light fever. Taking your pet to the vet, a temperature check is standard procedure. A temp-check can also be administered at home as well.
Grange Co-op carries digital thermometers and lubricants safe and specifically made for pets. Add lubricant to the thermometer, press the button to activate it, and insert the end in the dog’s rectum. Insert it only a centimeter in and make sure someone is holding your pet steady at all times.
The experience is far from comfortable, but if your pet is sick knowing if they are experiencing a fever can provide you with the information needed to properly care for them. If your pet’s temperature reading is above 102°C, Lyme disease could be a possibility and it is important to contact your veterinarian for professional advice.
Loss of appetite is another symptom of Lyme disease. Similar to how you would feel when experiencing the flu, when sick, it’s difficult to find joy in eating. If your pet has a fever and is also refusing food and favored treats, contact your veterinarian for professional advice and next steps.
Swollen joints symptoms are often not as obvious as the ones mentioned previously, but it is a specific symptom that is common in Lyme disease. Because the bacteria targets connective tissue after entering the body, Lyme disease attacks the cartilage that lines your pet’s joints. With time, the area will start to swell, especially near the site of the tick bite. As the disease progresses, so does the swelling.
At a glance, it may be undeterminable if your dog has swollen joints. It’s important to feel for them, taking each limb in your hands and pressing down on the joints gently. Swollen joints are often described as soft and squishy, even warm to the touch. Hold a normal joint in one hand and an apparently swollen one in the other to determine the difference.
Lameness In More Than One Limb
Lameness that compromises one leg over another is often referred to as ‘shifting leg lameness’ and can be frustrating to detect. If your dog exhibits this symptom, he may favor one limb over another only to switch it up later.
This happens when Lyme disease progresses through the dog’s system and attacks the cartilage in several joints at once. The condition causes non-erosive polyarthritis, almost a sort of ‘Lyme arthritis’. In this case, the cartilage doesn’t wear down because of age which is common in osteoarthritis. Instead, the bacteria just causes severe inflammation in several joints at once.
Health Complications Of Untreated Lyme Disease In Dogs
Untreated Lyme disease can lead to serious health complications in your canine companion. It can do permanent damage to your dog’s heart, kidneys and nervous system, ultimately causing many uncomfortable symptoms and health issues for your pet. If your pet frequently experiences seizures or facial tics, it may have Lyme disease. Even if the symptoms are not life-threatening, they can severely affect your dog’s quality of life and long-term health.
How To Prevent Canine Lyme Disease
A vet can conduct tests to determine if your dog has chronic Lyme disease or not. This includes a blood test checking for the presence of antibodies associated with the disease.
The sooner the disease is caught, generally, the better the prognosis. However, unfortunately, it can take weeks for the antibodies to show up in a blood test. While early treatment is key, a test that is conducted in the first few weeks may not help the vet determine if your pet has Lyme disease or not.
Because of this, a blood test may be combined with a physical examination of the dog as well. If both tests come out positive for the disease, the vet may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria that caused the disease.
Alternatively, if there is a heightened prevalence and risk of exposure/infection in your area, a vet may recommend a Lyme vaccination to decrease the chance of future infection. Grange Co-op carries a do-it-yourself Lyme vaccine, ideal for hunting, working and outdoor dogs. Spectra™ 10 + Lyme vaccine is a combination of immunogenic, attenuated strains of CDV, CAV2, CPIV, and CPV type 2b, propagated in cell line tissue cultures. For questions or concerns around vaccinating your pet, always contact your veterinarian for professional advice.
Besides vaccinating your dog, there are a number of other preventive measures one can take. This can include tick medication, but before applying it, a physical examination of their fur is also important. Ticks can latch onto their skin and the longer they are attached, the more at risk your pet is of contracting Lyme disease. Prompt identification and removal can prevent this.
If addressed early enough, the disease does not pose a significant threat to your pet’s health. Knowledge and awareness of the aforementioned symptoms of Lyme disease, in addition to taking your pet to the veterinarian if there are suspect symptoms, are all ways to prevent Lyme disease.
At Grange Co-op we offer a range of pet care products to help keep diseases at bay and ensure a healthy pet. For more information, visit our pet blog or talk to a Grange Pet Expert in-store for ways to keep your canine happy and healthy.