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Symptoms and Treatment of Lyme Disease in Dogs

19 July 2016

Lyme disease in dogs is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia Burgdorferi and it was first found in 1984. The bacteria are passed on by ticks and the main tick is known as the Ixodes which can affect dogs just like it can affect humans.

Each year the number of cases increase and the fact that the climate is changing and people are moving countries is resulting ticks spreading meaning the disease is being carried further. Lyme disease can develop quickly once a dog becomes infected and it can also be passed on just as quickly.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms only develop in a small number of dogs and unlike Lyme disease in humans the disease is not simple to spot in dogs as it can take a long period of time to develop. However, the main symptoms are fever, anorexia, loss of appetite, lameness, joint pain, swelling, damaged kidneys.

Treating the disease

Antibiotic therapy can be used to treat the disease and this begins with a one month course. The most common antibiotic used is doxycycline and this has an added bonus of also treating any other infections that may be present in the dog at the same time. It helps to reduce inflammation, is cheap and the duration of a month is recommended because it is likely the dog would have had the disease for some time before it is recognised.

However, studies suggest that using antibiotics over a long term is no more beneficial than using them over a shorter term and it is still possible for the bacteria to remain in the tissue of the body after the course has ended. The result of this treatment differs from dog to dog and the disease can still be present a year after treatment. If there is damage to the kidneys then additional treatment may be required such as additional medication to help the kidney function along with a new diet.

How to prevent the disease

There are vaccines available to help prevent the disease but how well they work is not particularly clear. In many cases, experts are not fully supportive of offering the vaccine but using the help and guidance of your vet should help you to make a decision. How common the disease is in your area could determine whether it is suitable for your dog to be given the vaccine. However, the vaccine sometimes offers a form of treatment that can be given with the antibiotics, but there is no real clear evidence that it makes any difference to the recovery time.

Control and detection of the disease in its early stages is the best way forward and this is why dog owners should be aware of ticks.

Controlling and removing ticks

Controlling ticks is one way of reducing the risk of the disease but it is also wise to understand that ticks can carry other diseases. Removing ticks, using treatments such as Advantix 100 will reduce the risks and is the best move for your dog because if it’s removed within 24 hours of becoming attached to your dog the infection can be stopped.

Ticks can often be found in leaf litter, branches and long grass, so avoiding their habitat is a good place to start. You can also use some household flea sprays to remove them from the home (such as the Acclaim Household Flea Spray). With that in mind, regular checks will help you to reduce the risk and keep on top of any problems.

For more information about prevention or dealing with Lyme disease, please contact medicines4pets

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