Lyme disease can be very serious in humans, but it can also negatively impact dogs. Many people are not aware that their dog can get Lyme Disease, and this can be one of the most frequently incorrectly diagnosed illnesses in dogs. Knowing more about this illness can be really important for pet owners to help with early diagnosis.
Lyme Disease can also cause a variety of symptoms, which can make it tough to diagnose the condition. Every dog will have a different experience with the progression of the disease, which can make it hard to predict the progress of your dog’s condition over time once they have been diagnosed.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
There can be a wide array of symptoms that can be related to Lyme Disease. There are some common markers for this disease but not every dog will show these symptoms. The most common symptoms of Lyme Disease are:
- Joint swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Hypersensitivity to touch
- Neurologic symptoms
Lyme Disease symptoms typically only show up within 2-5 months after your pet is infected. Some animals will not have any notable symptoms for years, however. Your dog’s immune system might be able to fight this condition with some success, which can lead to many years of Lyme Disease being effectively in remission.
How Do Dogs Get Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is carried by ticks, but not every tick is a carrier. This means that your geographic location and blind luck might have a lot to do with your dog’s chances of being infected. Ticks that have been found on your dog can be sent to the lab to be tested for Lyme Disease, which can help with early treatment of your dog’s condition. The best way to prevent Lyme Disease is to keep your dog out of tall grass or wooded areas where ticks like to hang out. Prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to Lyme Disease.
How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?
This condition can be tough to diagnose. Veterinarians will often look for the common symptoms and, if they are present, a serologic test that can show Lyme Disease when processed. Frustratingly, some animals will still test negative for Lyme Disease even when they have it. Lyme Disease diagnosis can be very difficult overall, and many animals are not correctly diagnosed until their condition is quite advanced.
Can Lyme Disease be Prevented?
If you are worried about Lyme Disease in your area, you can actually vaccinate your dog for this condition. You will need to keep this vaccine current for it to be effective for your dog. Antibody response to this vaccine can vary, so your dog might not get the full protection that you were hoping for from its vaccinations. However, this is a much more beneficial plan than hoping for the best, and your dog will be much better protected when vaccinated.
Do Dogs Recover from Lyme Disease?
Dogs can recover from Lyme Disease, but it can take a while to see improvements in their condition. In cases with neurological symptoms, the damage that has been done by the condition may be irreversible. Just like there is a variety of ways that the condition itself can show symptoms, there is variability in the success of treatment for this condition. This is one of the most frustrating conditions to treat dogs for, as the results of treatment can vary so wildly.
Can Dogs That Have Been Vaccinated for Lyme Disease Still Get It?
Sadly, dogs that have been vaccinated might still get Lyme Disease. Vaccination can help your dog to have antibodies that recognize the threat, however, and this can make it much more likely that their immune system will fight off the Lyme Disease. This is a great way to help prevent the most serious symptoms of this condition, even if you can’t 100% prevent your dog from being infected.
Will My Pet Need to be Retested Frequently?
If your pet has contracted Lyme Disease, there might be reasons that your vet will want to retest them to see if they are improving or not. Dogs that have not been diagnosed will need to be tested annually for Lyme Disease as well as antibodies if you want to be sure that you are keeping their vaccine schedule up to date and effective. There can be a wide range of benefit levels to using vaccinations in dogs, so you might want to see what your dog’s antibodies are doing before you vaccinate each year.
Lyme Disease is Best to be Avoided in Dogs
Lyme Disease can be a very hard condition to treat, and it is always best to prevent your dog from getting it by limiting exposure to ticks. You can also vaccinate your dog if you want another layer of protection from this disease. There are some parts of the US where ticks are common, and Lyme Disease can be much harder to prevent in these parts of the country. However, any part of the world with wooded areas and tall grass can expose your pet to ticks that might have Lyme Disease. This is a particularly common risk for those who like to take their dogs hiking or camping or for those who go hunting with their dogs.
The best way to manage Lyme Disease is to prevent it from happening. Your dog will thank you for making sure that they do not get this illness, and you will save thousands of dollars on treatment for Lyme Disease effects. Pets can experience a wide range of severity in this condition, and your dog might hardly have any symptoms, while another dog might be very sick almost right away. Lyme Disease is one of the most frustrating conditions that can impact your pet, and you should be sure that you try to avoid your dog contracting this condition.
West Ashley Veterinary Clinic in Charleston, SC offers a full range of veterinary services to keep your pets happy and healthy through all stages of life!