Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that is primarily spread by deer ticks. Dogs can contract lyme disease from the bite of an infected tick. Most cases of lyme disease occur in the Northeastern and Upper Midwestern parts of the USA, but there have been reported cases in all 50 states.
Symptoms of lyme disease in dogs are swelling of the joints, joint pain, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. Infected dogs will usually walk with a stiff or limping gate and feel sensitive to your touch. Severe cases can experience kidney disease or neurological problems. It usually takes a few months for symptoms to develop, but if you suspect that your dog has lyme disease you should have them examined by your veterinarian. The vet can prescribe antibiotics to help treat the bacteria, but in many cases it is very difficult to fully eradicate the bacteria. Regular vet visits are recommended for lyme disease positive dogs to ensure that the disease has not spread to the kidneys.
Adult deer ticks lay eggs in the fall and the larvae are dormant over the winter and mature into nymphs, then adults in the spring. Winters with long periods of cold will help kill the tick larvae and yield fewer ticks the following summer. Ticks in both the nymph and adult phase can bite mammals, spreading the bacteria. When ticks feed they latch onto the skin of their host and very slowly suck their blood. The tick needs to be attached for two days in order for the bacteria to pass to the host. Regular tick checks after your dog has been outdoors and lyme disease vaccines can help prevent infection. If you find a tick on your dog make sure to carefully remove the entire tick with tweezers or a “tick twister” devise. They burrow their heads into the dog’s skin to feed, so you need to make sure that the head is not left behind when you pull it off of the dog.
A serological survey of tick-borne pathogens in dogs in North America and the Caribbean as assess by anaplasma phagocytophilum, A. platys, ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeensis, E. ewingii, and borrelia burgdorferi species-specific peptides.