Tick Lyme Disease in Dogs
There are many dangerous unknowns lurking outside that your furry canine family member can unfortunately be exposed to. One danger that stands out frequently and can be a common problem for your dog is ticks. Ticks are a type of insect that normally range from 3 to 5 mm in length. They survive by attaching themselves to mammals, birds and other animals and biting through the skin to feed on the animals blood. Ticks are notorious for carrying all kinds of bloodborne illnesses, none more prevalent than lyme disease. Also known as Lyme borreliosis, Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that can be transmitted to humans, dogs and other animals by certain species of ticks. The bacteria inside the tick enters into the animal’s bloodstream through their bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to various parts of the body causing problems in organs, joints and overall illness.
Ticks are often found in tall grasses, thick brush, marshes, and woods. Ticks will attach themselves to the very tips of grass blades waiting patiently for an unsuspecting dog to stroll by. The tick will then latch onto the dog's fur and bury itself until it finds some skin to bite. A tick normally only transmit diseases once it has been attached to a dog for a period of 24 to 48 hours.
What are the symptoms of lyme disease in dogs?
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced energy
- Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
- Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain
- Swelling of joints
How to diagnose and treat lyme disease in dogs?
The best means of avoiding lyme disease is to remove ticks as soon as they are found. If your dog tends to go outside a lot or you live near wooded areas, as an owner you should perform daily inspections on your dog. To remove a tick from your dog, you should use fine-point tweezers, and avoid tearing the tick which will spread possible infections into the bite area. Spread your dog's fur, then grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull straight upward, in a slow, steady motion. If you are unable to remove the tick, consult with a veterinarian for help.
To confirm if your dog has lyme disease, you should visit your local veterinarian as they will need to perform a few tests in order to provide an accurate diagnosis. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. For treatment, your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics for at least 30 days. This often resolves symptoms quickly, but in some cases, the infection will persist and prolonged medication may be needed. Treatment can also include other therapies aimed at resolving or relieving specific symptoms.
How to prevent tick bites and lyme disease all together?
As an owner, it's your responsibility to inspect your dog and yourself daily for ticks after walks through woods or grassy areas. Common places to look on dogs are: the feet, lips, around the eyes, ears, and under the tail. Removing a tick at the first sight significantly reduces the risks of your dog contracting lyme disease. The faster you’re able to find and remove ticks the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam. Prevent ticks from jumping on your dog with one of the many flea and tick prevention products available at your local pet store. Make sure to speak with your veterinarian to find the best and most appropriate solution for your dog.
Even as a homeowner you can take steps to prevent ticks by keeping your grass mowed as short as possible and avoid excessive bushes and shrubs building up on your property. Lastly, the best way to prevent lyme disease is to get your dog vaccinated. Vaccination can prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease all together, however it might not be appropriate for all dogs so make sure to discuss with your veterinarian first.
Read more about common dog diseases: Petcomfort.com/common_dog_diseases/