Vet Blog

Lyme Disease In Dogs: What You Need To Know

March 05, 2019
  1. What is Lyme Disease? A tick-borne disease of dogs and humans caused by the rickettsial organism Borrelia burgdorferi.
  2. How is it transmitted? Ixodes ticks are the vector in the United States (a type of deer tick).
  3. What are the signs in dogs? The signs develop within 2-5 months and can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints, shifting-leg lameness. A very small number of infected dogs can develop kidney failure, which is usually fatal. Lyme disease can also affect the eyes, heart, and possibly the central nervous system (not well documented in dogs).
  4. How is Lyme Disease diagnosed? Blood counts may show anemia, low platelets, and low white blood cells. The biochemical profile may show low blood proteins, high kidney values, and other abnormalities. There are tests for Lyme disease that can be done in the clinic or at the laboratory. Definitive diagnosis may require skin or joint tissue ("PCR" testing) or a culture.
  5. Where does it occur? In the US Lyme Disease occurs mainly in the northwest and upper Midwest, but the prevalence is increasing in other regions.
  6. What is the treatment? The drug of choice is the antibiotic doxycycline. Some dogs may require anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and some may require intensive treatment (especially if they develop kidney disease).
  7. How is Lyme Disease Prevented? The mainstay of prevention is TICK CONTROL. There is a vaccine available. It is administered initially as 2-vaccines 3 weeks apart and then annually.

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