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How to Spot Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs

in dogs, Lyme disease is highly transmitted in the states of the Midwest, North Atlantic, and Pacific coast, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that affects small dogs more than adults. One of the most common symptoms is leg recurrence or joint pain, which can be confused with arthritis. Although fairly easy to treat, Lyme disease can become fatal if not diagnosed. Some dogs are tested positive for Lyme disease without clinical symptoms; some veterinarians may advise against treatment in these cases.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in a dog?
Lyme disease, unfortunately, is a fairly common disease. Typical symptoms in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Swelling of joints
  • Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  • Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain

How are dogs tested for Lyme disease?
Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnosis. For dogs, a blood test for a diagnosis of Lyme disease is called a C6 test and a Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.

The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called “C6”. The presence of antibodies indicates an active Lyme infection. C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after a dog bite with a dog and can be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.

The next step is to take a Quant C6 test. This, along with urine analysis, will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.

Transmission of Lyme Disease
A dog who contracts Lyme disease is bitten by an infected tick, with the tick left intact on the dog’s body for between 12 and 48 hours. Potential for Lyme disease can be reduced by keeping dogs out of tick-infested areas such as high brush and weedy regions and using pet-safe tick repellents and collars. Your vet may recommend vaccination to protect against the disease. Regularly check your dog for ticks when he’s been outside. If you find any, remove the tick, keeping the head intact, and wash the area with an antibacterial agent.

Lyme Disease Symptoms
Clinical symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear for as long as five months after an infecting bite. Symptoms include inflamed joints and lameness, which can shift from one leg to another and may disappear and reappear over several days or weeks. Joints may be stiff, warm, or inflamed and tender to the touch. Your dog might experience swollen lymph nodes near the site of the tick bite and may have a fever. Your pup may be lethargic, have trouble breathing, walk with a stiffly arched back, and in some cases, experience seizures.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Your vet will conduct a complete physical exam as well as ask questions about your dog’s recent activity, location, symptoms, and behaviors. He will look for the tick bite site and remove any residual part of the tick still in the wound. Blood and urine analysis and joint fluid testing will help confirm a diagnosis of Lyme disease. In most cases, your dog can be treated at home with antibiotics. In some cases, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for pain. Complications of Lyme disease involving other organ systems may require hospitalization.

Complications of Lyme Disease
Left untreated, Lyme disease can damage your dog’s kidneys and in rare instances, impact his nervous system or heart. Larger breed dogs are more prone to these complications. Symptoms of advanced kidney problems include vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss and swelling from fluid retention. In severe cases, your dog may have residual joint inflammation even after the disease has been treated successfully.